A healthy lifestyle can enhance your well-being, boost your mood, and reduce the risk of illness. Despite these well-publicised benefits, sticking to a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming at times (and impossible at others!).
However, there are ways to help you incorporate healthy habits into your life on a long-term basis.
To get started, take a look at these eight strategies to help healthy habits stick:
1. Find your motivation
We all know we should embrace healthy habits, but this doesn’t make them any easier to stick to. Sometimes, the proven scientific benefits of a healthy lifestyle, such as improved cardiovascular function or the reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, aren’t enough to really inspire us. If these benefits aren’t spurring you on, then find something else that does motivate you.
Perhaps you want to drop a dress size, be able to play ball with your kids, or walk up the stairs without getting out of breath? Whatever your reasons for wanting to be a little healthier, use them as your motivation. It doesn’t matter how big or small these incentives are, it’s the fact that they’re genuine and meaningful to you that matters.
2. Practice visualisation
If you can’t envisage something happening, you can’t bring it about, which is why visualisation is such a valuable technique. When you create a detailed image of a healthier, fitter version of yourself in your mind’s eye, it turns a goal into a reality and gives you a glimpse of what your life could be like, which helps to motivate you to keep going when you’re tempted to abandon your healthy habits.
To maximise the impact, make your visualisations as detailed as possible. Picture what you’re wearing, your surroundings, the people nearby, and even what the weather is like. The richer the imagery, the more of an effect it’s going to have.
You can use visualisation at any time but it’s particularly helpful to use this technique when you’re practicing meditation or self-hypnosis. When you can imagine yourself feeling and looking like you do in your mind’s eye, you’ll find it much easier to embrace healthy habits in the long term.
3. Make small changes
When people decide to ‘get healthy’, they often make drastic changes to their lifestyle. From completely cutting out junk food to fasting at the weekends, there are a variety of ways you can make major changes to your day-to-day life. However, these drastic changes can be hard to implement and even harder to stick to.
If you regularly start a new health or fitness regime, only to fall back into old habits within a few days or weeks, this might be why. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on major changes in order to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
In fact, making smaller changes that are easier to stick to could have more benefits in the long run. When you make sustainable modifications, you can reap the long-term benefits they offer. What’s more – you’ll get a confidence boost and a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to see that you’ve made successful changes to your lifestyle.
Whether you decide to drink more water throughout the day, eat an extra piece of fruit or take a short walk, choose small, sustainable habits to get you started.
4. Work with your schedule
Another reason that dramatic lifestyle changes rarely work in the long-term is because people don’t consider the impact it will have on their schedule or vice versa. If you work full-time and are raising a family, for example, you probably don’t have the time to go on a 10km hike three times a week, even if you wanted to!
When you choose healthy habits that are hard to accommodate, it makes them difficult to sustain. As a result, you’ll find that you abandon your newfound habits more quickly, which can lead to a sense of failure and guilt. Of course, these emotions rarely inspire you to try again, which is why so many people struggle to break through when it comes to enjoying a healthier lifestyle.
If you want to find healthy habits you can stick to, choose things that are easy to fit into your current schedule. Sure, you may want to adjust your routine to facilitate more exercise time in the future, but you don’t need to commit to big changes right now. Instead, find healthy habits that your current schedule accommodates, and you’ll discover how easy they are to stick to.
5. Address unresolved issues
An unhealthy lifestyle can often arise because of emotional difficulties or unhappiness. Food can be a source of comfort and it’s typically unhealthy foods that are used in this way. If you regularly eat junk food when you’re feeling down or, conversely, to celebrate something, there’s a good chance that you’re making an emotional attachment to food.
Similarly, if can be hard to keep up with fitness routines or stay motivated when there are unresolved issues bringing us down. As a result, we tend to abandon healthy habits, which can exacerbate any underlying difficulties.
By addressing these issues, however, you can learn how to deal with them in a healthy and structured way. From confiding in family and friends to seeking professional help and attending therapy sessions, such as https://enterhealth.com/outpatient-ocoe/, there are a variety of ways you can address unresolved issues in your life. When you do, you’ll find it easier to make positive changes in other areas, which means it will be easier than ever to incorporate healthy habits into your life and stick with them.
6. Get disciplined
Being motivated is great when it comes to optimising your well-being, but it isn’t always enough. There will be times when your motivation plummets, and this is when you’ll need to dig deep and rely on determination and discipline to help get you through.
When you’re more disciplined, you’ll find it easier to avoid tempting, whether it’s in the form of a sweet treat or carb-laden junk food. Furthermore, you’ll be able to keep up with your fitness routine, even if you aren’t feeling particularly energetic or motivated.
While it’s certainly useful to keep topping up your self-motivation and looking for ways to re-incentivise yourself, don’t overlook the importance of discipline. Accepting that you won’t always feel motivated but learning how to overcome this can be the key to sticking to healthy habits in the long term.
7. Embrace habits you enjoy
If you’ve always thought that you don’t particularly enjoy being healthy or exercising, you just haven’t found the right eating habits or fitness activities for you. With so many options out there, there really is something for everyone, so why waste time doing something you hate?
If you dread going to the gym but love being outdoors, make running and outside exercise classes your go-to fitness activity. If you prefer being social, choose team sports or take part in tennis or golf tournaments.
When it comes to healthy eating, broaden your horizons and try new things, so you can find out which healthy foods you genuinely enjoy. Similarly, try different cooking methods, so you can experiment with different flavours, textures, and dishes. Of course, if you really aren’t a fan of cooking, you could aim to have one raw meal a week to see if this type of eating plan suits you best.
8. Make yourself accountable
There are many things in life that can throw you off balance and threaten your progress but, ultimately, you get to decide how to respond to them. If you have a stressful week at work, for example, it’s easy to rely on junk food to get you through. Alternatively, if you can’t work out due to an injury, it’s the perfect excuse to ease up on your healthy eating habits too.
Conversely, if you’re celebrating a big event, you might be tempted to abandon your healthy eating habits and ‘reward’ yourself or take a week off your fitness routine when you’re going on vacation.
While healthy habits don’t have to be rigid to be effective, be wary of cutting yourself too much slack, particularly if it’s likely to damage your long-term progress. Instead, recognise your ability to control your reactions to external events and make yourself accountable. When you take full responsibility for sticking to healthy habits, or not, you’ll realise just how empowered you are.
Make healthy habits work for you
As you can see, taking a personalised approach to your well-being can make it easier to stick to healthier habits. When you set your own goals, create your own fitness regime and adapt to your schedule, you can develop healthier habits that are actually sustainable and enjoyable.
As you begin to notice changes in how you look and feel, this reinforces your commitment and makes it even easier to stick to your newfound habits. With this sense of accomplishment, as well as your motivation and discipline, you’ll be eager to incorporate even more healthy habits into your lifestyle and reap the benefits they bring.