Making Healthy Habits Last
One big question mark that seems to come up repeatedly is “How can I make healthy habits last?” Sometimes, it can feel pretty overwhelming, right? There’s the eating healthy. And the working out. And then the meal prep. Don’t even get me started on the Pinterest recipe searching! Where do I begin? How do I make the right choices? What are the right choices for me?
I can totally understand that making a healthy change can seem overwhelming, but that’s why I’m here! The key to making healthy habits last is breaking it down into easy, digestible chunks. By breaking it into little piece that you can control, you’ll feel less overwhelmed. And, it’s no surprise - people who feel overwhelmed are the most likely to break their habits. So, let’s break it down, shall we?
Healthy living requires a lifestyle change
You have to want to make a change. That’s the most simple way to put it. If you felt like you were doing everything correctly, you likely wouldn’t be looking to make a change. So, something clear is not working. Well, what is that? Again, I ask you to start with something small.
Do you want to stop drinking?
Do you want to stop snacking?
Do you want to curb your sweet tooth?
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you eating enough? Too much?
Do you need help with portion control?
Are you trying to go to the gym more often?
Which one of these things resonates with you? If more than one of them does, make a star next to it. Which one is the most important to you? Trying to tackle all of those things at once is going to give you a major panic attack because it just feels as though you’re going down a massive checklist. So, instead, focus on ONE THING you’d like to make a change in your daily life. Several of those things might go hand in hand, such as eating too much and snacking too much.
Focus on one and make your next month about that one item. See how you can fit it into your daily life and make that one item a priority. Life doesn’t have to be about overconsumption and restriction, but more so about finding a gentle balance and having grace with yourself for when everything isn’t perfect. But, if you’re looking to make a healthy habit, your lifestyle has to change to include it.
When you feel like you’ve been able to successfully tackle one item in your healthy lifestyle change, you’ll find that you’re naturally drawn to others as well. It creates a trickle-down effect that goes deeper than just the one line item. When you start eating better, you might find that your sleep improves. Drinking less helps prevent your insatiable sweet tooth. From there, you can continue to tweak these healthy habits to make them more routine, and thus, easier.
Step Up Your Self-Care Game
I’ve talked a lot about self-care on the blog over the past year, but it’s so incredibly critical to a healthy lifestyle. If you are not recovering from your workouts, you’ll find that each one is getting progressively harder. Maybe you’re having trouble reaching a new weight, or you’re feeling like you’re plateauing. Even worse, you’re setting yourself up for injury.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you’re in the same boat! Poor sleep and poor diet wreck havoc on your body. If you want to lose weight, your body needs to be in a relaxed mode, not constant adrenal-fatiguing “fight-or-flight” mode.
This is where self-care comes in. You have to treat yourself to “you” time. I’m not talking about spending tons of money on fancy soaps, spa packages, or vacations. If you have the money to be able to treat yourself, then I say do it! But, for some, that might be something that is out of range. You shouldn’t let that stop you, however. Find something that you enjoy and make it part of your routine. Just like the above step, adding self-care into your routine is critical to a healthy lifestyle. This routine, however, is always a little bit more fun, so people are more likely to include it. But, it’s also the first thing that is thrown to the wayside when you get stressed or busy. Self-care routines are often abandoned when it feels “selfish” or “indulgent” when, in fact, it’s exactly the opposite!
Self-care comes in a variety of forms. It could be as simple as reading a good book for a few minutes before bed. Taking a walk at lunchtime to get out of a stuffy office building for some fresh air. Listening to a free meditation podcast. Taking a relaxing bath at night. Preparing yourself a special dinner when you get home. Self-care is about listening to your body and giving it what it needs. Sometimes, self-care is about understanding that your body needs a good night’s sleep more than it needs another workout.
Self-care re-lends itself to the idea of giving yourself grace. You don’t need to earn these minutes or experiences each day, but rather, you need to incorporate them into your daily life and allow yourself to relax, destress, and do your body a favor so that it can continue to work for you every day.
Making Health a priority
Ultimately, in order to make a healthy habit last, you need to make your health a priority. So ask yourself: how can I make this new lifestyle a priority? You’ve addressed what you want to change, now how are you going to do it? Do you want to get more sleep? Then start working toward an earlier bedtime. Can you adjust your work schedule? Your obligations? Do you want to eat healthier? Clean out your pantry from all the excess junk that might be accumulating.
Are you having trouble getting workouts in on your own? Consider hiring a personal trainer or finding an accountability partner to workout with. You can always put your workouts into your planner to set aside that time for a workout. Have kids? Incorporate them into the workout. Taking them to the park or on a walk are small things, but it lends itself to a healthier lifestyle.
Photography by Laurie Adalle Photography