5 Steps To Building Healthier Habits

by | Sep 26, 2014 | Blog, Lifestyle

Chances are, in order to reach your fat loss goals you’re going to have to create some new habits. If only it was as easy as bottling up your good intentions and writing down some goals. It wasn’t so easy for me.

My terrible habits were so deeply engrained in me they felt automatic. Choosing comfort foods on a bad day almost didn’t feel like a choice, it had become instinct. There were days that it felt like my car went on autopilot to the Mexican restaurant after work. I didn’t feel like I was actively “choosing” junk anymore than I chose to fall asleep or yawn. Yes, I know they were choices. But 20+ years of making poor food choices and using food as a drug DOES create a degree of instinct. So if our habits have become automatic, how can we possibly make new ones?

It’s pretty easy to stick to a new routine for a day or two but for lasting fat loss your new habits have to become a part of your everyday life. When I started my weight loss journey I had such a long road ahead and found success by breaking up the necessary lifestyle changes into small, manageable adjustments.

Need to adopt some new, healthy habits? Here’s 5 ways to make sure you can stick to it over the long term!

  1. Understand your current ones
    Are you even aware of how, why and what you eat? That’s really the first step. I suggest keeping a journal of not only what you eat but when you eat it and how you’re feeling before you eat. Beginning to see the patterns around your eating is an absolutely critical part of being able to change them.
  2. Start small
    If you’re living on microwave popcorn, PopTarts and Taco Bell, declaring that you are cutting out all processed foods might be a big leap. It’s a great long-term goal but it might not be the most feasible starting point. Take an honest look at your lifestyle and identify one, small, meaningful area for change. One change I like to recommend is avoiding processed foods before 10am. It removes the pressure to be perfect all day but it starts you out on the right foot and it’s easy to build upon once you get comfortable. If incorporating physical activity is important to you, commit to stretching for 5 minutes first thing in the morning or to taking the stairs at work. This isn’t a race and taking on more than you’re ready to handle is a fast way to fail and get frustrated.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time
    I’m definitely guilty of feeling a surge of motivation and writing out an aggressive, detailed plan to have killer workouts, a super clean diet, an early bedtime, etc, etc. When you’re ready to change your life, you’re ready to change it all, right? That’s totally my MO. However, you’ll be far more successful if you focus on one thing at a time. Make it a part of your life, invest your energy in making it an effortless habit and then tackle the rest. Most of us will claim to be wonderful multitaskers but your focus is finite and if you want to master lasting change, take it one by one.
  4. Practice makes progress
    Once you have identified the small, singular habit you’re going to work to incorporate, practice it at every opportunity. If you come up against a roadblock, embrace it as a great opportunity for practice. Just because you’ve declared walking for 30 minutes each day your new habit doesn’t mean it’s going to be effortless. When your day gets crazy and you feel like there’s no time, don’t respond in frustration. Respond with excitement because your life is giving you an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re willing to put in the work to find a way to reach your goals. Prove to yourself that when things get crazy, you make time for this healthy, new habit. It’s easy when it’s easy, right? We need it to be consistent when it’s NOT easy. That takes practice. When it rains for days on end, don’t throw in the towel and give up on your habit, take advantage of the opportunity to practice your habit and find an indoor track or a shopping mall and get your walk in! It’s going to take consistent practice and commitment to overcoming obstacles. Don’t get frustrated, look for those chances to practice and make progress.
  5.  Hold yourself to a high standard
    We are our own greatest ally and our own greatest enemy. We can be very effective excuse-makers. Commit to holding yourself to a high standard. Commit to living up to the potential you know you have. Don’t give in and don’t give up. Push yourself and expect consistent practice. You don’t have to be perfect but you DO have to be consistent. Creating new habits is easy until it isn’t, right? That’s when you need to keep pushing through and not allow yourself to give up or move on. No one can do it for you. Hold yourself to the standards you know you are capable of.

When you identify one small change and consistently practice it, soon it will be an effortless habit just like brushing your teeth or starting your day with a cup of coffee. The process, however, takes focus and commitment. When you buckle down and focus, you’ll soon be ready to take on more and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to person you want to be.

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