Starting and maintaining healthy habits is like juggling. You get better and can add more with practice; and you can’t go on forever without dropping the ball once in awhile. Healthy habits are easiest to start one at a time and let them gradually creep into your life. If we try to instill a dozen new habits overnight, few of them will stick. The way we make these habits “stick” is through repetition and persistence. And while our fitness goals will help us keep our focus and motivation, the real reward is on the journey…not at the finish line.
Below are some ways to add healthy habits into your routine. Start one or two a week…or even a month. Make them small and simple…like adding a set of crunches in the morning…or walking around the block after dinner. Our goal should be to start small habits that we can continue and build upon. The benefits of these small habits will really add up over time and gain momentum of their own. Use the list below to spark some ideas for some ways to add healthy habits in your life:
- Plan Meals Ahead
Look up your
BMR and see approximately how many calories that your body burns a day (not including exercise). Then take a look at what you’re likely to eat the next day…add up all of the calories. Will you burn more than you eat (lose weight)? Eat more than you burn (gain weight)? Are you adding up everything (soda, the morning pastry, the after-work snacks)? When I slip-up on my healthy habits…it’s usually the eating part. I eat healthy meals, but I can easily consume 1000+ calories in unnecessary snacks. When I cut back on the snacking, I see a real difference in my weight and fitness levels. Look ahead and see where a little meal and snack planning can save you some unwanted calories.
- Always Hungry? Fight back with fiber!
Healthy habits don’t need to consist of eating tree bark and honey. There are many delicious foods out there that are much more satisfying than the sugary, starchy foods that surround us in our society. Foods that are high in fiber will not only result in fewer calories, they also leave us full and satisfied for a longer period of time. As with any change, it’ll take some time and determination to make this healthy habit stick. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are kind to not only our figure…but to our overall health, too. Try adding
foods that are high in fiber to your diet and you’ll see some positive differences in your appetite and figure.
- Five Minutes for YOU
The most popular reason not to exercise is “no time”. And while we seem to make time for everyone else around us: family, friends, and co-workers…what about taking care of ourselves? As mentioned above, healthy habits have the highest chance of success if we start them slowly and gradually build upon them. So start with 5 minutes. Take a look at the
Exercise 101 page and pick out a few exercises. Set you alarm clock 5 minutes early and do them before you get your morning shower. That’s it…just 5 minutes. So what can we possibly accomplish in just 5 minutes? A lot! It’s the cumulative affect. For example, one set of push-ups and two sets of crunches may take you 5 minutes each morning. If you do them 5 days a week…that’s over almost 2 hours a month…or 24 hours a year!! It’s not the 5 minutes that’s so important, it’s sticking to the healthy habits that you start and keep going.
Motivation usually comes in waves. I’d say that 50% of the time I get up to run, I have a very strong desire to crawl right back into bed. But it’s the feeling that I know is waiting for me at the end of the run that gets me through the start. If you have that incredible urge to skip a workout routine…try this: Tell yourself that you can walk instead of jog, or that you’ll do just one set of crunches instead of two…cut yourself a mental break. Chances are good that once you start, you’ll do the whole workout…but at least you know that you have the freedom to “bag it” if you really wanted to. Starting is often the hardest part – do everything you can to at least start. Once you get used to that surge of confidence and energy after a workout, you probably won’t skip too many of them…it’s just too good of a feeling to pass up.
- Set Goals
A journey with no destination can easily get off course. So set a goal. Sign up for a walk-a-thon, a running race, or make a self-promise to buy something nice for yourself when you reach your goal weight. All of these goals, milestones, and rewards can help revive our motivation and keep our long-term focus on achieving our vision. In the meantime, we keep the healthy habits going and soon they’ll be habits that are hard to break.
- Don’t beat yourself up!
Many people start health and fitness plans each year, only to end them just weeks later. And while there’s not a lot of statistical data on the true underlying reasons, I would hazard a guess that many people quit when they miss a workout for the first time. We can be so hard ourselves when it comes to failure. Sometimes we expect to accomplish in weeks what in reality should take months or even years. When you drop a healthy habit, forgive yourself…and pick it back up. If you keep a positive attitude and know that you’re allowed to have a down day here and there, you’ll be much more likely to keep those habits for the long-term. Don’t worry if you get knocked down…just get back on your feet!
Use the many tools on this site to help you make a fitness plan that you can live with. The healthy habits that you start now will add up like grains of sand and before you know it you’ll soon be standing on a mountain. Take it one habit at a time…one day at a time and you’ll be real happy with the results. Best of luck, my friends!
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