How to create healthy habits that actually stick
By Katey Chambers
With the new year quickly approaching, you might be starting to think about your health goals, such as losing weight, eating healthier, starting an exercise routine and/or finding ways to manage your stress. And let’s be honest, these might be the same goals you had at the top of your list last year, am I right?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So what prevented you from reaching your goals? How will this year be different? Sometimes, the difference between success and failure is simply in the approach. The reason most people abandon their resolutions by mid-February is because their goals were too vague, too overwhelming and lacked a realistic plan. The truth is the approach failed, not them. Want to know the secret to actually sticking with (and achieving) your health goals in the New Year? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#1 Get Clear on Your WHY
No more vague goals simply stating, “I want to get healthy.” You need to get really clear on why these goals matter to you, and how you will feel after accomplishing them. Why do you want to live a healthier lifestyle? Why make these changes now? Why is it so important to you? Your WHY should be specific, have purpose and hold personal value. The goal of, “I want to get healthy,” with further self-discovery could become, “I want more energy to play with my kids so that I can be a more present parent”, or “I want to lose weight so that I can eliminate certain medications and not become diabetic.” Knowing your why will help you create habits, fuel your motivation and keep you on track to achieve your goals.
#2 Set Small Goals
If you have a dream of running your first marathon, I don’t think you’d start by tackling twenty miles on day one, right? You’d probably break down the twenty six miles into a realistic training plan where you gradually built up the mileage each week. The trick to not feeling overwhelmed by the bigger goal, and how to set yourself up for long-term success, is to break it down into smaller, attainable goals. Ask yourself what you can do today to help you get one step closer to reaching your goals. With these small wins and daily progress, you’ll always be moving forward. Progress fuels motivation, which drives future success.
#3 Enjoy It
In order for these new healthy habits to become a sustainable part of your lifestyle, you have to enjoy the process, so that they transition seamlessly into your daily life. It might sound obvious, but oftentimes we approach our goals with what we think we should be doing, vs what we enjoy doing. If your goal is to eat healthier, a boring restrictive and flavorless meal plan probably won’t last; but exploring a local farmers market, trying new recipes, or challenging yourself to include a vegetable at every meal could make it more enjoyable. When you enjoy your habits, you’re more likely to make positive choices and create momentum, which builds confidence, leading to results.⠀⠀⠀
#4 Be Consistent
Building new habits is all about consistency. You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to be consistent. Habits take a while to form, but it’s a faster process the more often you do them. So start small, make them easy, and aim to do them everyday. If you want to start exercising, instead of the goal to work out 3x a week for an hour, try doing it everyday for 30 minutes and build off of that. Block time on your calendar and keep to it like you would any appointment. To stay consistent, try to find the same time each day to create a long lasting routine. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#5 Reward Yourself
It’s important to acknowledge your progress and celebrate wins along the way. Too often we view our goals as linear, with an expiration date, and grade ourselves in terms of “succeeded” or “failed”. The reality is: our journey will have ups and downs, bumps along the way, but it’s about progress, not perfection. Having something to look forward to makes creating healthy habits easier when you lack the motivation. Maybe you treat yourself to a cute new gym outfit for your workouts, buy a new kitchen device to make meal prep easier, or schedule a spa treatment to destress. There are plenty of ways to reward yourself, so find what motivates you to stay consistent.
Try this five step approach to turn your health goals into long lasting habits that will lead to a happier, healthier you in the New Year!
Katey Chambers is a health coach and avid writer.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.