When it comes to maintaining healthy habits, one of the reasons we struggle to keep up with good habits is because we often don’t see progress when working towards difficult goals. These goals can be anything from trying to reach a target weight to cutting out sugar. We know that being active every day, decreasing stress, getting more sleep, and eating more plant-based foods are better for us but why do some people struggle with their health goals while others don’t?
I’ve never believed in the all or nothing approach when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. We all learn differently and if past ways didn’t work to achieve your goals, then maybe it’s time to try a new technique. One thing is for sure, you if you want to stop banging your head against the wall and put your goals into motion, you must do the following:
1. Change Your Environment
When you’re accustomed to behaving in a certain way, it’s hard to break habits that aren’t serving you well. In order to change the habit, you need to change the way you are living. For instance, if you are new to working out, get a workout buddy to make you accountable. If you constantly find excuses to not go to the gym, your workout buddy or accountability coach will keep you track. If your habit is late night snacking with unhealthy foods, then take your dog for a walk, rearrange your furniture, clean something, or do something to shift your feeling of what is normal. Constantly interrupt your typical pattern and replace it with something else. This will become your new normal.
2. Accept Setbacks
We’re all human. We all make mistakes, it’s part of life. When it happens, it’s important to remember that this is normal. If you miss a workout regardless of the reason, give yourself permission that it’s ok and that you’ll get back on track again. When people accept that it’s ok to deviate once in a while from a goal behaviour, they are more likely not to repeat it again. If you keep getting down on yourself for getting off track with your goal, setbacks are more likely to happen. The key is to get back on track again.
3. Get Support
I have to say that this is the key element when adapting new habits for most people. When helping people change their eating or workout habits, it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people. People who have gone through the steps already and come through with success.
Most behaviours repeated on a regular basis turn into habits. Your intentions for creating a new habit are important when you start but by when the habit starts to become stronger, the intention lessons. If your goal is to eat more plant-based foods, you know ahead of time that it won’t be easy to maintain the habit in the first few weeks. This is where support comes in. Learn to support yourself in various ways whether it be through healthcare professionals, a life coach, an accountability coach, support groups, or simply using an app. There’s an app for everything now. Try to connect with other people who have gone or who are currently going through the same behaviour change as yourself. You are more likely to relate to someone who is experiencing the same issues as you are. The longer you keep the support going, the more likely you are to change your new behaviour into a habit. Once your new eating or workout habits become routine, you can rely less and less on support as it has now become a healthier way of life.
4. Re-visit Your Goals Constantly
If you wan to change the way you eat or exercise, you have to have a plan in place. Saying that you want to get healthy or lose weight isn’t enough. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. The SMART principle. Saying that you want to lose 20 pounds is too generic. But if you break down the goal into eating plant-based foods twice a week, walking every day for 60 minutes, cutting out pop 3 times a week, cutting out meat 5 times a week, are more behaviour focused. You have more control of these targets when you break them down into small measurable goals.
Sometimes we have set backs when reaching our goals. Other times, we manage to reach them faster than what we thought. Instead of focusing on the end goal, re-visit your goals often to see if you need to alter or change them altogether. Make a list of small goals. There is nothing more rewarding than crossing that task item off of your goal list. It gives you that feeling of satisfaction and wanting to do more. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. If you don’t reach them, it’s ok as long as you are mentally aware of them. Maybe you don’t like the approach you are using so it’s best to keep your goals somewhere visible as a reminder to ‘check-in’ every so often to see if you need to either update them or change them altogether.
5. Get Feedback
Feedback acts as reinforcement to achieve and create new habits. It helps to have someone who is not on your journey to provide feedback on how you’re doing as long as it’s constructive. It’s another set of eyes and ears to help you change your course of action or provide options. When people first start to change their behaviours, positive feedback gives that person a greater sense of commitment towards their goal. People who received feedback on a regular basis have more success to either change a habit faster but also make it easier for you. Find a friend, family member, or support group that can provide you with constant positive feedback to keep you on track to conquer that new health goal.
Eat Well – Move Well – Live Well
Your Compassionate Coach,