7 Ways to Jumpstart Healthy Change in Your Life
Often, the biggest hurdle when it comes to our health is behavior change. We all know what we’re supposed to do, so why don’t we do it? It’s true that it isn’t easy to change ingrained habits like trying to find the closest parking spot instead of parking far away, or reaching for a donut instead of an apple. When making changes, it’s important to gradually work towards change instead which improves your chances of making the change stick. Listed below are seven strategies that can help you implement healthy changes in your life, no matter what that specific change may be.
Whether your goal is to manage your weight, develop a physical fitness routine or manage stress, it’s important to set goals so you have milestones to work towards. Often changes related to our health can feel overwhelming, therefore breaking large goals into tiny actions can help you succeed.
Define your starting goal. The last thing you want to do is set yourself up to fail. Take a good look at where you are right now, and set a goal that is the best fit based on where you’re at. You’re more likely to succeed if you set priorities that you can get excited about and that are attainable.
Identify your long-term big goal. Wanting to run a marathon or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, fit back into clothes you love, decrease your dependency on blood pressure medication, or have sustained energy so you can keep up with your kids? This is excellent to identify and will help you keep your eye on the prize as you work through smaller changes. If you’re getting hung up on this, don’t worry. You can still succeed in moving toward your goal through other approaches.
One change at a time. Select the change that you feel like you can do no problem. For example, eating healthier, sticking to exercise or easing stress. Focus on making one choice at a time. When you start practicing this choice like a ritual or habit, you can then add on the next. It’s also not a race. Give yourself as much time as you need for that choice to become something you don’t need to think about.
Commit to yourself. Sorta like a contract, write down your promise to yourself and ask one or two people in your life (that you wouldn’t want to let down) to hold you accountable. For example, your partner or child, a teacher, doctor, boss, or friends. These supporters will be there to encourage you to push through tough situations. Be as specific as possible about the change you want to make and why it matters to you. For example, I’m making a commitment to my health by planning to take a mindful walk, three days a week for 30 minutes each. This will be my first step to a bigger goal, which is doing a stress-reducing activity every day. It also helps me meet another goal of getting 30 minutes of exercise every day. I am doing this because it will help me sleep better, improve my mood, and help me be more patient with important people in my life since I will be managing my stress.
Identify your obstacles. For example, you want to meditate but can’t find the time to do it. Or you want to eat healthier but you find that you don’t have time to pack your lunch in the morning and at night you are starving and your refrigerator and pantry aren’t well stocked.
Plan how you will overcome the obstacles. Next, you will think of ways you can overcome these obstacles. If your obstacle is a time issue, try getting up 30 minutes earlier. If not having time to make lunch is an issue, find healthy easy lunch recipes or mason jar salads that you can put together quickly on Sunday and store in your fridge so you can grab and go all week long. Another thing is to put healthy grab and go foods on your grocery list so you can grab them when you’re on the run or if you need a snack to hold you over until dinner.
Celebrate your wins. Progress is progress no matter how small and it’s important to celebrate that. Think of something you may enjoy to celebrate your win. For example, if you hit most or all of your marks on planned choices for one week, treat yourself to a massage or bath! Try to steer clear of food rewards, since this approach can be counterproductive and can also create a negative relationship with food.