When It Comes to a Healthy Lifestyle, Small Changes Bring Lasting Results
We all want to create healthier habits for ourselves, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming. If you have tried before and gotten derailed, you may be wondering if it’s even worthwhile to start again. Don’t be discouraged! Even if this isn’t your first attempt to replace unhealthy habits with beneficial ones, you can make progress if you set realistic goals, accept small achievements, and build on those achievements step by step.
Resist the temptation to over-commit.
It might seem like a good idea to aim for awe-inspiring goals, such as running a marathon or giving up all processed foods. However, achieving these goals can take a lot of effort and training. Pushing hard for some major overhaul may be exciting initially, but is unlikely to be sustainable, especially if you are limited by work or family requirements, financial constraints, or physical mobility issues. You may not have the time or resources to commit to non-stop training or maintain perfect discipline. Then, if you slip up or fail to check all your boxes, this can bring on feelings of inadequacy. What was meant to be a positive plan for self-improvement has become a cycle of ambition followed by defeat.
Start with baby steps.
The solution to this is simple: start small and stay consistent. Because our brains are wired for instant gratification, we need to set ourselves up for little victories we can feel good about. Even if you only exercise for a short period every day, this still starts a practice that can fit into your routine. You might not be able to have three perfectly nutritious organic meals a day, but if you can manage just one, that’s a start. Eventually, your practices become as habitual as showering or brushing your teeth: you hardly think about the acts but wouldn’t go a day without them.
Build for the future.
While it’s great if you can manage a few weeks of healthy living, the crucial focus has to be on a healthy lifestyle that can last for years. To do that, you will need to build on your good practices. As you become more comfortable with a new lifestyle choice, see whether you can implement it more frequently and with greater intensity. This might mean switching from walking to running or investing in new workout equipment. Or, spend some money on an armband for your smartphone so you can enjoy some music while you exercise. Or, sign up for a gym membership at a fitness center to keep yourself committed and try fun new workout regimens.
Keep it holistic.
Healthy habits involve the whole person. While no, you don’t want to overextend yourself, you don’t want to undermine yourself, either. Pursuing one good habit is a lot harder if you aren’t committed to overall thriving. For instance, it’s difficult to maintain an exercise regimen when your diet keeps you feeling sluggish or unwell. Holistic health also means tending to the well-being of your mind. According to Livestrong.com, mental exercise is especially valuable for seniors. Good activities for keeping the mind fit include word games, card games, and listening to music. Check out software for brain-training such as BrainHQ or Cognifit which can also be beneficial. Consider taking a class to learn a new skill or teaching yourself a new hobby.
Travel is another great option for holistic health. Even if you can’t arrange a vacation to an exciting destination, just mixing up your regular walking routes can help keep your mind engaged while you work out. Look online for additional ways to keep the mind healthy and fit.
Since creating healthy habits is self-care, remember to focus on activities you can enjoy, and don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t meeting your goals as rapidly as you’d like. It might be a good idea to ask loved ones for support, too. Take it slowly and enjoy many years of healthy living.