Half the battle to healthy living is in the approach we take to change and the habits we create. These habits can be just as important as the food we eat and the exercise we do when we’re looking to achieve those health related goals (and all goals for that matter!). Creating new positive habits helps us sustain change, here’s a few tips on how to get started!
Are you ready?
Before you start any to make any changes, have quick think and reflect about where you are in your life and answer these questions; Do you have a lot of work stress at the moment? Challenges in your personal life? Generally feeling overwhelmed? Do you feel now is the right time to take on change? Not having the mental capacity to take on new changes can contribute to reasons why people give up or feel like they ‘can’t do it’. This doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human, and everyone has a limit. Be honest and gentle with yourself. When you’re ready, start by implementing simple and small changes at first and take it slow and steady. It’s really amazing what even the smallest of changes can do.
What is your why?
Next think about ‘why’. Why do you want to achieve that particular goal or make that change? Are you doing it be healthier? Are you doing it to help prevent or reverse health problems? To raise money for a charity close to your heart? To be fitter and able to play with your kids? Whatever the reason. Write it down. Memorise it or keep it on a piece of paper and near you at all times. Because when you feel like giving up, there is no better way to stay motivated than remembering why you started.
Education is key
Understanding the basics of healthy eating is so important when it comes to healthy living, as is making sure you’re getting that information from a reliable source. It’s not time consuming nor difficult, it’s just like researching a hotel before you book it. Look at the weight loss, health and fitness information provided by the NHS live well website https://www.nhs.uk/livewell/Pages/Livewellhub.aspx and from organisations such as British Dietetics Association, World Health Organisation and of course, my website. Take articles written in newspapers with a pinch of salt. Nine times out of ten they’re driven by the most interesting headlines and to get the most website hits. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. If you are struggling to identify the facts from fiction, head here or get in touch where I can of course help you too.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Struggling to commit or to find motivation to make changes in your life? Then plan. Write a todo list so you can tick each item off once you have completed a task or put it in a calendar and set reminders. Maybe even think about your ‘why’ and have this as a reminder. If it’s important to you, prioritise it. People who plan and prepare for the week or even day ahead, are more likely to achieve their goals.
Having a manageable routine seems like an obvious point but this is an important part of healthy living and it also ties into planning tasks and setting goals. Getting into a routine of exercise and healthy eating is a great way of staying on track and ensure consistency. But remember to keep it manageable, realistic and most importantly enjoy it. If you are finding it too difficult or it’s making you feel unhappy or frustrated then stop, review and simplify your routine and goals into more manageable and realistic chunks. Remember, starting with small routine changes (or any changes) at first is always a good idea.
Set goals, not yourself up to fail
Setting goals is a great form of motivation but it can be disheartening when you don’t achieve all of them. This is usually down to the actual goal setting itself and not because you can’t do it. To avoid missing the targets you set, make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable or attainable, realistic and time bound). For example, “I’m going to put less sugar in my tea and coffee from now on.” is not a SMART goal. “I’m going to reduce the sugar I add to my tea and coffee every day by only having one teaspoon instead of two.” is better. The ‘realistic’ part is also essential to ensuring you can achieve them. Think about how you can plan them into your day and about anything that could stop you from achieving them.
Be patient and enjoy the journey
Finally, let’s be real here. Whether it’s losing weight, making dietary changes, getting fitter, training for a race or just generally trying to be the healthiest version of yourself, it is not easy. Give yourself time, be patient and know you are always moving forward and progressing every day. Feelings of guilt and punishment never helped anyone. We know there is no such thing as a quick fix that offers long lasting results. We’re looking for habit and mindset changes that lead to long term sustainability, and in order to sustain anything, we need to be happy and enjoy it. If you don’t feel this way, change it up and try something else. Life is too short!
If you have any questions, need a little extra help with creating new habits or with nutrition in general, please do get in touch!
This blog was written by Ailsa Brogan-Hewitt, a Co-Worker at The Leeming Building.