Habits aren’t formed overnight. They’re the result of a series of decisions made over and over again.
Breaking unhealthy habits—and building healthy habits in their place—takes just as much time, alongside the lion’s share of accountability and commitment.
We buy the same foods from the same grocery store, prepare the same recipes over and over, and live within our own familiar routines. But if you’re serious about eating healthier, you need to shake it up, change those bad eating habits, and start thinking differently about your diet and lifestyle.
MAKE THE COMMITMENT
Eating a healthier diet may be intimidating and overwhelming, but once you how good it makes you feel — and how good healthy food can taste — you have a better chance of succeeding.
While the idea of breaking an unhealthy habit might make you feel like David taking on Goliath, it isn’t impossible as long as you commit to becoming a healthier version of yourself. Decades of unhealthy choices are reversible.
MAKE IT EASY TO BUILD POSITIVE HABITS
Ditching unhealthy habits and replacing them with good ones is simple once you make it easy for yourself to do so. This might mean avoiding the trigger that causes you to engage in that habit.
Do you stress eat? The answer to breaking that habit might lie in removing temptation. Instead of heading for your fridge, try going for a walk. Or, if you are trying to quit smoking but you know that you smoke when you drink alcohol, you may want to avoid alcohol until you have kicked the smoking habit.
The key to making habit-building easy is to make it pleasurable and to be kind to yourself. If you hate running but you need to start leading a more active lifestyle, consider something else that will get you moving.
Work in small steps, and don’t allow yourself to fail. Most of all, congratulate yourself on your accomplishments without punishing yourself for your missteps. You won’t start by running a marathon, but you can start by putting your shoes on and taking a leisurely walk on the treadmill. You can pack your workout clothes with you, making it easy to stop at the gym on your way to, or back home from, work.
Work healthy habits into your day, so you don’t have the opportunity to make an unhealthy choice. For example, you won’t break all your negative eating habits in a day, but you can make it easy to eat healthy food by preparing it in advance. You can also avoid unhealthy choices by going to the grocery store on a full stomach. Set yourself reminders to drink water. The fewer decisions that you need to make daily, the better your likelihood of making positive ones. You are going to have challenging days along your journey, but don’t let them overwhelm you. Create a positive relationship with the change that you are trying to make.
STRESS AS A CONTRIBUTOR TO HABIT-FORMING & CONSOLIDATION
Stress can negatively affect our day-to-day decisions, that isn’t the only consequence of living a high-stress lifestyle. Whether it is stress from work, a relationship or other factors, this can raise your hormones and metabolism fairly high. Finding ways to manage this stress may take time, but worth it in the end. Meditating, developing a regular sleep routine, and regular exercise are all great ways to help reduce stress.
It may be easier to focus on one goal at a time and taking your transformation in small steps. If your endgame is to lose weight, you may want to focus on correcting your diet first and then moving onto increasing your physical activity. It’s easy to see positive results this way, without uprooting your entire lifestyle.
However, physically, mentally, and emotionally, we are all completely different people. Radical change works for some people but not for others. What’s important is to know yourself and your history and do what will garner the best, longest-lasting results.