Often times when I tell people I do nutritional consulting they launch into their wonderful plans for healthy living, but how they’ve never actually been able to make any of them happen. This issue is all too common. We all know what we need to do to be healthy – drink water, eat more greens, go to bed at a reasonable hour – but actually doing it can be so difficult! The problem is that so many of us feel that we have to wait until the right moment to get into a healthy routine. Unfortunately, when the time comes around to actually make those healthy changes we overload ourselves with way too many tasks, which sets us up for failure. We’ve got the right intentions, but no structure to support the actual achievement of those goals. The trick is focusing on one goal at a time so that eventually – typically after 30 days of consistency – the ‘healthy action’ stops feeling foreign and becomes routine. Here are some tips to turn those nice ideas into concrete healthy habits.
1. Pick one thing at a time
Choose one thing you want to change and start today. It’s much easier to implement a habit when you’re not trying to juggle multiple new things at once. Choose what you’d like to change, and plan to start today.
2. Remember your motivation
Whether it’s losing weight, sleeping better, having more energy, or improving your relationships, what motivates us is key to change. To keep in touch with your motivation, post reminders in your personal space, make a Pintrest board, or simply write down an affirmation each morning to help you stay focused.
3. Find some accountability
Giving up on something feels so much worse when you have to tell someone about it. Share your goal with a friend, partner or parent, and have them check in with you about it every so often. Knowing that someone else is (gently) keeping tabs on you gives you a much higher likelihood that you will stick to your plan. Hey, you might even inspire them to make changes of their own!
4. Get a buddy
Be the friend who inspires, and extend your good intentions out to others. Getting someone else on board creates a fun challenge for both of you. See who can cut out dairy for the longest. Start going to spin class instead of happy hour. Get up at 7 AM on a Saturday to hike Temescal. Having a partner can make it a lot more fun and can get you to go way beyond your initial expectations of yourself.
5. Do things incrementally
Unless you have the most extreme will power on the planet, trying to cut out sugar, gluten, and dairy all at the same time will be the biggest mishap of your life. Pick one thing you want to address and give yourself limits. If you’re trying to do less meat, try meatless Mondays. Then extend it to Tuesdays and so forth. If you want to cut down on sugar, commit to not eating refined sugar until 2 PM every day. Creating structure will help you know that you still have those indulgences to look forward to, but will prevent you from eating them as much as you would otherwise.
Once you tap into your capacity for healthy change, there’s no stopping you. Commit to one thing today, use these tools, and you’ll see positive shifts in all areas of your life.