QUESTION

I’m feeling motivated to eat healthier, exercise more, and think positively.  I have tried to do this before, but then I went back to my old habits.  How do I make healthy habits last the test of time?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a HABIT.”

-Aristotle

ANSWER
Committing to healthier living can be a lifelong challenge for some, but there are a few key strategies to make it easier.  Here are my top five solutions to keep a healthy routine for years to come:
  1. Have a solid plan for success.  For many, it’s easier to slowly incorporate small changes over time.  Start by setting short term goals and be specific.  Focus on what the lifestyle change will be, such as adding fresh fruit to breakfast, switching all white refined grains to whole grains, or taking a walk on your lunch break.  Make sure your plan is practical and sustainable, something that you can do and stick with over the long run.
  2. Be consistent. It’s what you eat the majority of the time that matters the most. Although food and exercise choices may change throughout your lifetime, following the same pattern day to day can help sustain a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Develop a support system. Share your goals and progress with friends and family.  Seek out like-minded people for encouragement and hang out with them more often.  With a strong support network you are more likely to continue your healthy lifestyle.  Something I learned from my education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was the more we talk about what we are going to do, the more likely we will do it. There is a lot of power, intention, and vibration in our voices! So tell your support system your plan!
  4. Monitor your progress.  Keep a food, exercise, or well-being journal.  If you are tech savvy, utilize apps such asmyfitnesspalFitbitHeadspace (to track meditation and mindfulness), Lose It!, or one of my favorites, HabitBull. People who record their daily habits are more aware of the patterns that might be detrimental to their health. I often ask my clients to jot down not only their food choices and amounts but also the time of day, location, and emotional level during their meal or snack. This can help people assess how emotions or time may be controlling their food choices.For example, a client of mine realized she was going six or seven hours in between meals and would majorly overeat because she was so hungry.
  5. Reward yourself.  Build incentives for continuing your healthy lifestyle.  It is possible to treat yourself without eating or buying anything.  Rewards can  be very simple yet fulfilling such as creating a new workout playlist, scrolling through healthy cookbooks for new ideas, taking a nap, give yourself a manicure or pedicure, or visit a free museum.  Keep the emphasis on rewarding your lifestyle changes instead of sabotaging your efforts with rewards such as sweet treats.
Katie Abbott, MS, RDN, INHC

Author Katie Abbott, MS, RDN, INHC

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