How To Not Suck At Building Healthy Habits
How To Not Suck At Building Healthy Habits
On every New Year, you vow that you’re going to start making changes, you might even make a list of what you’re going to do. Here we are, nearly two weeks into the New Year and how are those changes going for you? Have you fallen off the wagon already?
You had good intentions, then something came up, then another thing and here you are 12 days in and nothing to show for it. It’s OK. We can still change.
Why do we suck so much at building healthy habits?
You know how to get in shape. You even know how to eat. Yet, you STILL can’t stick to building healthy habits. WHY?
One reason is that you go all in. You’re gung ho on January 1st. You’re ready, you’re going to drop your bad diet completely and run 5 miles a day and lift weights three times a week. Come on now. If you haven’t exercised in over a year, you and I both know that it’s not going to happen. You might make it for a week. Then, the next week, you decide you’re tired one day and don’t run. Then, you think oh I only need to run four days a week, then it’s three, then its none. Or you go out to eat with friends, and think oh I already ruined today, I’ll just eat whatever I want. And you know exactly where it goes from there.
We are conditioned to receive instant gratification. Heck, we can get Netflix and watch nearly anything we could ever desire without a single commercial. If we want a snack, we go to the gas station and get a candy bar. We want losing weight and getting in shape to be the same way, but it’s not. It’s easy to forget that the 20, 30, 50+ pounds we are overweight took a year, two years or even a lifetime to put on. If we don’t drop 10 lbs in a week, we get discouraged and give up.
It’s time to break that cycle.
Start Small When Building Healthy Habits
Wanna know my secret?
Pick just ONE habit and start there. Make it small. Make it easily achievable. And focus only on that habit for 21 days.
Want to start exercising? Set your goal for 5 minutes a day for 7 days. Anyone can do 5 minutes!
Want to start eating healthy? Set a goal to cook a healthy meal three days this week.
Want to stop drinking soda? Replace half the amount of regular soda that you drink with diet this week.
Keep your goals SMALL and SIMPLE. The smaller and simpler they are the more likely you are to keep them.
Focusing on ONE habit at a time keeps you from getting overwhelmed.
Momentum is What Keeps You Going
Building healthy habits is just like climbing stairs. You take the first step, you can do it. You’ve made it, so you take another step. Guess what? You made that one too. So you take another and so on and so forth. Eventually, you reach the top and you’re Rocky Balboa standing there admiring how far you have come.
If you can rack up the small victories, especially in the beginning, it will become infinitely easier to continue to have more small victories! Never underestimate the power of momentum.
Limit Your Choices
Make your new habit automated. Remove emotion from the equation and limit your choices when it comes to having the ability to opt out of your new healthy habits.
If your goal is to workout every morning, then go to sleep in your workout clothes or keep them right by the bed. As soon as you wake up before you even have time to talk yourself out of it, put on your shoes and go to work. Are you one that keeps hitting snooze? Put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get up to turn it off.
Or maybe, your goal is to exercise every day after work. Pack your gym bag the night before. Throw it in the car when you leave. No needing to go home where you can easily get distracted or end up on the couch watching Rocky Balboa instead of becoming Rocky.
Or if your goal is to eat healthy, don’t give yourself the option to not to. Toss the junk food and start making your lunch the night before. Keep healthy snack options around that will keep you from driving to the convenience store to get a candy bar.
Hold Yourself Accountable
We can all come up with excuses to not to do something. We might even tell ourselves a little white lie so we feel better about not doing it. But, your excuses are what is keeping you from moving forward. What if you didn’t let your excuses be an option any longer. What if you decided right now that you are no longer allowed to use excuses?
Wow, did you feel that? All of a sudden with excuses out of the picture, your decision just got a whole lot easier! It’s no longer an option to do something. It is a requirement. Maybe you need a little willpower boost and you need help. Ask a friend to keep you accountable. Have them text you or message you and remind you that you have a commitment to yourself. Let them know that it’s ok to call you out if you start complaining or trying to make excuses. Start a zero tolerance policy.
Instead of rewards, set up a penalty for not following through. So if you don’t exercise on one of your scheduled days, you have to pay $10 to your spouse/kids/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents/friend. Or every time you eat out when you shouldn’t, you let your kids do your hair before you go to work. (That one would work for me!)
The more painful it is to skip your good new habit, the less likely it is that you will do so. So find a way, ANY WAY to stay accountable. Have your friends help (I’m sure they would love to have a part in an embarrassing story they could tell their children for years to come.)
How will you stay accountable? What are your penalties? I would love for you to share your ideas below!
Stay tuned for Guide to Happiness & Success!
For Part One of Foundations for A Healthy Life: Setting Realistic Health & Fitness Goals
For Part Two of Foundations for A Healthy Life: Mapping Your Way To Weight Loss Success
For Part Three of Foundations for a Healthy Life: Habit Building 101