I know, I know, “Creating a Healthy Lifestyle” … you’ve heard it all before.
But allow me to shed some light.
Let’s dig a little deeper into how you can make small, yet significant changes, to create a healthy lifestyle – indefinitely, so you can feel good, have more energy and be the best version of YOU!
Lots of things you do impact your health and quality of life, now and in the future… You can reduce your risk for the most common, costly, and preventable health problems—like heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity—by making healthy choices. The best part is the cascading effect of feeling vibrant and having more energy.
A healthy lifestyle is a work in progress, with peaks and valleys, but hopefully always moving forward toward learning more, making better choices, and living mindfully.
It’s important to not let yourself get overwhelmed. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to begin with big, dramatic, challenging change. Making small changes and incorporating them into your life slowly and incrementally will increase the likelihood that you will stick with the change and want to do more. It becomes a natural evolution of one small change, over time, becoming the new “norm” and then there is room for another new, small change.
Know Your Habits
The regular things you do — from brushing your teeth to having a few drinks each night — are your habits. Repetitive behaviors that make you feel good can affect your brain in ways that create habits that may be hard to change. Habits often become automatic — they happen without much thought.
The first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly. Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.
Maybe you eat too much while watching TV or drink too many glasses of wine while cooking dinner. You can develop ways to disrupt those patterns and create new ones. For instance, eat meals with the TV off or make your wine glass into a wine-spritzers so that you still feel the effects of the wine and enjoy the full glass, but the serving of alcohol is less.
Just becoming more away of your everyday habits is the first step in creating change!
The Power of the Mind
Then, it’s time to start adjusting your MIND. Your mind is powerful!
A lot of people don’t believe that they can learn, master knowledge or change. These are deeply held beliefs, and ultimately, if we do not believe it, we will not achieve it.
So, change your beliefs. It is up to you to do the work of changing them. And when you do, you will be opening up a whole new world—literally! Feed your mind with information that will change your thoughts. The truth is that you have an amazing mind with a capacity for learning, growing, changing and evolving that is beyond your comprehension. You must believe it though. And when you do, you will be unlocking the potential of your mind…and your life.
However, some people can get stuck.
There are so many reasons why your success may be hindered. Perhaps you’re tackling too much at once, being overly hard on yourself, or just not ready or sure of how to take that first step. You may have given up on your health goals too soon or simply not had a well-developed plan of how to commit to healthy habits. This is all normal. The good news is that you can have success once you create the awareness and adjust your mind. That is just the beginning
Getting healthy takes planning, effort and, patience.
And the good news is that there is a way to cut through the noise and create a plan that works!
Here are 7 secrets to make those healthy habits stick so you can lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Start with cognitive goals.
I like to call this a mental workout.
When you set out to improve your health, you often think about action. Eat better, meditate, run more, but the truth is that getting healthy starts in your head.
If you don’t feel ready to take an action step forward, don’t worry. Just focus on “cognitive goals”, where you gather information, think about your options, consider the benefits of change versus staying the same, and map out how you might best integrate new healthy behaviors in your life. In time, you’ll feel ready to take an action step forward, and the cognitive work you’ve done will pay off.
- Shift your focus to the long-term.
Short-term solutions, like 21-day fitness crazes, are designed to jumpstart healthy living and produce rapid results. But they’re often not feasible for the long-term.
The key to getting healthy isn’t having a taste of your ideal self for a few weeks then reverting back to old ways. It’s about creating sustainable change. Consider behaviors you can adopt that you’ll be more likely to stick with over time. This way, your efforts won’t be lost, and you’ll feel the true benefits of change.
- Realize that small steps create big victories.
Contrary to everything you might hear in advertisements, slow and steady wins the race. Small, incremental steps are the best way to move towards your goals with success.
If you’re trying to get more physically active, start with a 10-minute walk around your block a few times a week. If you want to reduce stress, trying meditating for 1-5 minutes. You may think this sounds too easy, but that’s the point. Over time, you can increase your efforts and enjoy the benefit of these healthy activities without feeling that the journey was such a struggle.
- Pick actions that matter.
Every effort to get healthy is meaningful, but some actions help pave the way to better health more directly. Like anything in life. Take the example of parking farther away from the grocery store. Your intent may be to increase the amount you walk per day, but at some point, the benefit plateaus (as you can only park so far away and shop so often).
An alternative strategy is to identify a long-term goal that you want to work toward, such as spending 1 hour at the gym 5 times a week. Then develop steps that you can build upon to reach that goal. A first step may be to join the gym, then add on working out at the gym for 20 minutes twice a week, then 30 minutes three times a week, and so on. These first action steps aren’t just throw-a-ways. They are building blocks to get you closer to your larger goal.
- Don’t rely on your motivation.
Motivation is essential when trying to build healthy habits, but you can’t always depend on it because some of that initial motivation will wear off and you’ll need other systems in place to keep you on track.
The key to getting through low motivation times, is to anticipate and set up strategies in advance to help you cope. Ask for support from friends, family or co-workers, and create backup plans. And, of course, remind yourself that motivation can plummet and that you just need to roll with it and keep going. The motivation will return, especially as you start to feel the benefits of your new behaviors.
- Be accountable to yourself.
People work harder when they feel accountable to someone. Whether it’s a coach, mentor, friend, family member, or work buddy, having others to report to can provide that necessary push you need to get stuff done. But ultimately you are responsible for your behavior.
There is not a more powerful accountability partner than yourself. Rather than relying only on others, set up a system where you regularly track your own progress. Ask yourself what helped you succeed versus what might have caused you to get off track. Reward yourself when things go well but don’t beat yourself up when they don’t. As time goes on, you’ll notice patterns of what hinders your progress and what needs to be in place for you to make healthy choices. While it’s helpful to have accountability partners, recognize that it is you who has the most knowledge and experience to set yourself up for success. I always recommend some sort of journaling in this process.
- Find true happiness.
A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t feel like so much work. If it does, then you’ll likely not stick with your new behaviors for too long.
Rather than taking some generic route to health, figure out what you can do to support a healthy life that also fits your personality, and empowers and excites you. We are all so different – you need to make it fun for you. When you design your life around things you love to do – activities that are uplifting and fun – it will stop requiring so much effort. Once you find the joy in living healthy, that’s when the lifestyle will stick.
Your life is a constant evolving journey. Enjoy the process and all the small improvements along the way!
Share with me what change you are working on! I would love to hear all about it!