6 Ways to Make Healthy Habits Stick
Have you ever started a new diet or new exercise routine and somehow a month later it’s out the door and you’re back to where you started? I’ve been there too! So let’s talk about how we can make these changes permanent.
At some point, we all approach the process of personal change. You take the first step in deciding you’re ready to live a healthier life. You’re now making positive changes to your diet and exercise routine, but now we need to learn how to make these changes stick.
1. BE REALISTIC
I see this mistake being made quite often. We think big and have all these big changes we want to make, which is great! But ask yourself, can I realistically do these things long term? Are these goals realistically attainable with the time I have? You have to make sure you set yourself up for success.
If you set an unrealistic goal that is going to be near impossible to meet, when you don’t reach that goal you’re going to feel like a failure. Instead, come up with some realistic goals so we can feel successful and motivated.
Instead of saying I want to lose 20 pounds this month, a more realistic goal would be “I want to maintain a 1-2/lb loss per week”. Instead of saying “I’m going to completely stop drinking wine every night”, say “I’m going to drink wine 3 nights a week instead of 7.” Be realistic and make sure your goals are attainable. Come up with short term goals and long term goals. I like to give myself new short term goals every month to make sure I’m progressing forward towards the big long term goal.
2. FIND YOUR WHY
I frequently am asked “How do you stay so motivated?”. The truth is, I’m rarely motivated. More times than not, I’m showing up to the gym because it’s part of a bigger plan I have for myself, not because I’m motivated to be there. Motivation ebbs and flows and is not something we can rely on.
What’s really important in pushing you forward in your health and fitness goals is finding your “why”. This means you have to make your goals part of a bigger cause that’s worth all the hard work. Your why is more than just “I want to look good” or “I want to lose weight”…dig deeper.
In order to find your why, start by listing some of your most important values in life on a piece of paper. Write down what your passionate about, what brings you happiness. As you start writing these things down, you may start to see how health and fitness can play an important role. Look forward to your future and try to envision what your health, fitness, happiness, and lifestyle will look like. Once you have a strong reason for achieving your goals it will give you that drive and push to continue working towards them.
3. CELEBRATE THE SMALL WINS
It can be really hard to stay consistent when you don’t see immediate results from these new changes you’re making in your diet and/or fitness routine. We can get so stuck on the end result were working towards that we don’t celebrate all of the amazing work and progress we make along the way.
To help those habits stick and to help keep yourself consistent, try having something to look forward to. When you have a successful week or a successful month its okay to reward yourself for those small wins even if you haven’t reached that end goal. This journey will take time and you have to remember to be kind to yourself.
The rewards can be anything from allowing yourself to watch your favorite movie, take a nice bubble bath, go out for a meal with a friend, or even buy yourself something like a new outfit or some fresh flowers. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul, but in order to keep yourself consistent it’s important to celebrate yourself, you deserve it.
4. CREATE SUSTAINABLE BEHAVIOR CHANGE
This one is major! In my opinion, this is one of the biggest reasons why many “diets” fail and why results never last long. Most of the “diets” advertised require you to make huge changes to your lifestyle and cut out food groups. Unfortunately, big changes and food restriction are rarely sustainable. I don’t know about you but I love food and I would like to still be able to enjoy carbs and sugar in moderation, rather than never eat them again. So you need to stop restricting food groups and understand that there is no “good food vs. bad food”, simply more nutrient dense foods and less nutrient dense foods. All food can be enjoyed in moderation. YES I am telling you you can reach your body goals while eating carbs and sugar!
Instead of making drastic changes to your life, start by making small changes. You would make more progress if you could consistently go for a 15 minute walk every day for a year, rather than going for an hour walk every day for 1 month and then quit. Small changes sprinkled with a bit of consistency can make a big impact.
5. KNOW THAT YOU WON'T BE PERFECT
It’s easy to get discouraged when you fall off track or have a bad day. We think “Well I ruined my progress so I might as well…”. But the truth is, if we just brushed it off and got back on track we will continue to move forward towards our goals, and no progress will be lost. We can’t make a ton of progress in one day or even one week, just like we can’t lose a ton of progress in one day or one week.
So my point is to give yourself some grace. Know that no one is perfect and we will all have slip ups. Focus on switching the “all or nothing” mindset to remembering “consistency is key”.
If you’re teaching a child to ride a bike, they aren’t going to succeed on the first try. They will fall, scratch their knee, but they always get back up and try again. Just like anything in life, we will have days where we feel like we failed, but you never fail unless you give up.
6. GET A COACH
A good coach will help you identify negative and positive behavior patterns and develop healthier habits to instill in your life. Not only that, but they should then provide you with a step by step process in how to make sure those healthy habits stick and how to turn new habits into a lifestyle. I use many techniques such as habit stacking to help my clients create new, positive behaviors.
A good coach will provide you with guidance and will lead you down the right path to find success with your goals. A good coach (notice I continue to say good coach) should take out all the guesswork and provide you with a plan to reach your goals. This will give you confidence that you are moving in the right direction and not second guessing your actions.
A good coach also provides you with accountability. When you are only accountable to yourself, it’s going to be easier to cut yourself some slack, let things slide, or get distracted from your goals. However, if you have a coach, you know someone else is sitting in your corner, counting on you to go for that walk, to exercise, to get your meals in. It will help drive you to be better and keep pushing until you reach the finish line.
If you’re ready to create a sustainable & enjoyable lifestyle that fits into your schedule and pushes you forward to reaching your goals then click here.