New Year’s Resolutions again?

Three steps to to create healthy and sustainable habits to last

Nearly half of the American adult population makes a New Year’s resolution each year. Unfortunately, by the time summer rolls around, not many resolution makers are still on track.
Year after year, top resolutions include losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more, saving more money, and quitting smoking. These are all great goals and are more easily achieved in bite-sized portions. Every day is an opportunity to work on these things and more. In fact, their goals are more likely to be achieved if we work on them every day.

Your goal should be to create healthy self-development and sustainable habits that will last for the long run.

Here are three steps that have helped me personally:

#1 – Find Your “Why”

Each of us is motivated by something different. While one person may want to quit smoking to be a better example for her kids, the next may want to quit smoking because his parents died of lung cancer. Whatever your motivation is, figure it out and stick with it.

Rather than thinking about the negatives of your goal, make an effort to focus on the positives. So, instead of thinking you’re depriving yourself of a piece of cake, remind yourself how energized you feel when you don’t overeat. Take out a piece of paper and write down all the positives. I am also a big believer in getting in the “feeling” of the outcome. Close your eyes and not only visualize the outcome, FEEL it. What are you doing, wearing, who is noticing, what are people saying to you, how do YOU feel? Practice this exercise often, not only when you are setting your intention.

Finding ways to stay focused on the big picture is also important. Creating a vision board you see every day or journaling your progress can help.

#2 – Set a Specific, Manageable Goal

Making a generic statement such as “I’m going to lose weight” won’t work if you can’t track your progress. On the flip side, setting an intention that is too ambitious may just discourage you in the end. There’s no healthy way to lose 25 pounds within the first month of setting the intention. Instead, come up with a goal that is specific, measurable, and reachable.

If you don’t know what this goal looks like, set up an appointment with a certified health coach or functional medicine doctor. They will be able to help you set healthy goals and help you track your progress along the way. Connect with experts who can help you achieve your desired outcome.

Once you establish the goal, time frame, and parameters, be sure to track your DAILY progress and have somewhere to be accountable. A great app for accountability and tracking is Stickk.com.

#3 – Take One Step at a Time

Trying to overhaul your life in a couple days is likely to leave you feeling overwhelmed. Instead, start small and change one behavior at a time.

For example, if you’re trying to clean up your diet, you may want to start first by adding three servings of vegetables each day. Then, start removing unhealthy foods from your diet one at a time. Perhaps you start with removing soda, and then work your way to cutting out most processed foods over the period of a few months.

If you’re trying to exercise more, start with 30 minutes of exercise over a few days a week. Eventually, you’ll want to work your way up to 150 minutes a week. However, you’re more likely to be successful if you pace yourself to get there. Be sure to pick activities you enjoy and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Habit stacking is another great way to make changes stick. I started to incorporate reading my affirmation cards while my coffee was brewing. Here’s a great article on how habit stacking can be implemented daily.

Making lifestyle changes on an on-going basis, rather than at a designated time such as New Year’s or a birthday, is much more effective. Every day is an opportunity to improve and better ourselves.

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