How to Develop New Healthy Habits
Updated: Dec 8, 2021
I love my younger sister, even when she drives me nuts. She prefers to maintain a diet more like most Americans and she eats anything that appeals to her while maintaining a rather sedentary life. Of course, she is always trying to lose weight and complaining about her lack of energy.
Recently, I was giving her my brotherly advice regarding her lack of exercise, when she said something that threw me for a loop. She said, “you’re just lucky because you like to workout all the time”. “You’re lucky because you like to eat healthy food”.
I had to take a minute before I nicely let her know she was full of it. No one, to my knowledge, naturally likes to workout all the time. Everyone I know likes the taste of brownies and cheeseburgers. Likewise, most people I know like to sleep later than 5:00 in the morning.
The huge difference in healthy people is that they have developed habits that they believe will keep them healthy and living a long life. How do we develop healthy habits that might give us a longer, happier life?
Here are 5 of the best ways to develop new, healthy habits:
When we are working to build a new healthy habit, the key is slow and steady change. Far too often we make a change that is radically different from how we have been doing things. We decide to never eat another cheeseburger. Or we decide to workout every day no matter how sore and tired we are. Radical changes are terribly difficult to keep up for any period of time. Making changes in our habits gradually is a much better way to go. Decide to take casual walks, then graduate to slow jogging a couple times a week, then move to taking a daily, quick trip around the neighborhood mixing in some walking and some jogging. Similarly, with our diets, make changes gradually. Start mixing in more fruits and vegetables with our meals. Stop indulging in sweets more than once a week.
Start developing new habits with a long time horizon. Don’t expect to make astonishing changes overnight. Establish realistic schedules to allow healthy changes to occur. Keep in mind, we are working to make changes that last a lifetime. Be patient with ourselves as we make changes consistent with good health and longevity.
Set realistic goals and write them down. Written goals are a great starting point for action plans. Unwritten goals are just dreams. Write down a realistic goal like, “I will lose 8 pounds this month”. Or, “I will get up 15 minutes earlier each day this week. Nothing life-altering, nothing terribly difficult to achieve. Once we start hitting small goals we can move on to bigger achievements. Build momentum with small wins.
Associate with positive people that have similar goals as we do. Sometimes we have to leave certain friends behind that will drag us down. There will be friends around us that don’t want to see us change and improve our lives. Start spending time with encouraging, goal-achieving people that are taking charge of their lives.
Forgive ourselves for the times we have failed in the past. Leave the baggage of our past and start fresh with healthy habits that are congruent with how we wish to see our lives go. Then move consistently and constantly in the direction of the goals we have set.
Today is a great time to start developing new, healthy habits. Put these 5 ideas into use and we are on our way.