For most of my life, I took the habit of being healthy for granted. I grew up playing competitive sports and practically lived in a gym or a weight room. But one buzzer-beating loss brought all of that to a screeching halt when I was just 18 years old. Like many people, I was quickly lulled into the norm of fast food value menus, oversized drinks, college dorm room menus that consisted of pizza rolls, Top Raman, and any other processed food that was quick and cheap. It didn’t take long before these behaviors landed me in a pretty unhealthy predicament. One personified by poor sleeping habits gained weight and lost confidence. I struggled for years to make my health a priority, I joined gyms and never went, tried ridiculous detoxes that never produced lasting results, and at my most desperate I even considered cosmetic surgery as a quick fix.
It is a well-known fact however that modest amounts of exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate rest are some of the best ways to boost both our physical and mental health. So why is making healthy a habit so difficult? Maybe it’s the lag time between the work and the results? Or our busy schedules or perhaps it’s a genuine lack of knowledge (the gym can be a pretty intimidating place when you have no clue what all those machines are for!). Whatever your reason maybe I’ve got 5 easy steps you can put into practice today to set yourself up for a more consistent journey to a healthier, happier version of yourself!
- A Failure To Plan Is A Plan To Fail
Buy yourself a planner and schedule your workouts like you would any other appointment or obligation. Pick the day, pick the time and pick the activity. You wouldn’t cancel an appointment or commitment you’ve made with someone else, so don’t do it to yourself! you don’t need countless hours in a gym to get a quick sweat in! 30 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week is a great place to start. I find waking up a little earlier before my day has had a chance to hit the ground running is perfect! There tend to be fewer distractions or competing obligations and thanks to the endorphin rush it boost my mood and gets me energized for the day ahead.
- Accountability Is Clutch
Accountability simply means being held responsible for the obtainment of your goals and it’s been shown to dramatically increases the odds that you will consistently do a given activity. But what does accountability look like in practice? Well, it can come in a plethora of forms. Accountability can resemble finding a fit friend and taking the time to foster relationships with people that share common values and health-related goals, joining a fitness boot camp, plugging into an online fitness community, making a friendly bet with a close group of friends on various healthy habits, ranging from losing weight to getting enough hours of sleep at night or hiring a trainer or accountability coach. The latter two suggestions have the potential to ramp up our personal ownership in the achievement of our goals because it puts something, we all value on the line, cold hard cash!
- Remain Flexible
When trying to incorporate new healthy habits into our life it is important to set yourself up for success. This becomes easier when you broaden your view on what healthy looks like and take the time to clarify what healthy means to you personally. Maybe going to the gym 5 days a week seems like a daunting task and one you repeatedly fail at. Hear me loud and clear, THAT’S OKAY! Keep it on your list and move on to a healthy habit that is easier to obtain in the beginning. Health is more than just losing weight and more than making it to the gym. Health can look like creating boundaries in your relationships with others, drinking the recommended amount of water each day, or making rest and meditation a daily priority! The important thing, in the beginning, is that you pick a habit that you feel you can be successful with. Early success in forming healthy habits boosts your confidence and makes it more likely that you will continue on your journey to adding more healthy habits to your repertoire.
- Anchor The Old With The New
A life hacks out of my own personal bag is the practice of anchoring. Anchoring is the act of picking something you love (i.e a fragrance or activity) with a new habit you are working on forming. In practice, this can look like taking a television show you enjoy and only allowing yourself to watch it while you work out or picking a fragrance you love and wearing it only when you’re headed to the gym. Not only does this have the potential to make your new healthy habit a little more enjoyable but on a subconscious level, it reminds you and recommits you to the new habit every time you wear that fragrance or watch that show! Anchoring is a great way to reshape your mindset as well. For instance, picking an affirmation to anchor to ascent is a powerful way to commit yourself consciously and subconsciously to that new belief every time you smell that particular scent!
- Patience Is a Virtue
Many people have heard the saying that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I hate to be the one to break it to you but that’s just simply not the case. That misleading anecdote actually sprang forward from a study based off how long it took recipients of cosmetic surgery to mentally adjust to their new appearance. Not exactly the blueprint for healthy habit formation. In a more relevant study published in the British Journal of General Practice, titled “Making Health Habitual” it was actually revealed that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a new habit to become automatic! So be patient with yourself, stick with it, and know that the unhealthy habits that you’ve had thus far did not develop in 21 days and they won’t be eradicated in 21 days either.
As you dare to embark on a healthier, more fulfilling life give these tips a try and always remember that the name of the game is consistency and the road to success is built on progress, not perfection.
I see you, I’m proud of you and I’m always rooting for you!