PICK ONE HABIT AT A TIME and work on it for at least a month to ensure it sticks. Habits are simply routines that you barely think about but just do. Your brain should be on autopilot when you perform a habit. When this occurs, the habit has become ingrained into your life. But in order to develop a habit, you must develop it methodically.
A habit or goal is not something that you should do but rather something you want to do. If you do not want to exercise and eat healthier in order to lose weight, chances are you will not succeed in achieving your goal. To ensure you follow your chosen habit, be sure to give yourself a reward when you make progress along the way. Say you hit the gym for three days during the week with each workout lasting an hour. Go to the movies on the weekend to give yourself a reward for a job well done.
When developing your habit, be sure to incorporate a small change to support your chosen habit. For example, if your habit is to perform 40 pushups each morning, try doing as many pushups as you can the first day and incrementally add one extra pushup each successive day. You're more likely to succeed in achieving your goal by making a small change each day--in the previous example, adding one extra pushup each day will get you closer toward ultimately achieving your goal. The is a behavioral change you've incorporated into your life in order to accomplish your goal. Once the goal is achieved (e.g., 40 pushups), continue performing this goal so that it becomes a habit (e.g., performing 40 pushups every day).
After you've chosen your habit, be sure to tell a friend or family member to make yourself accountable. You wouldn't want to let your friend down by not attempting and ultimately achieving your goal habit. If you fail to achieve your chosen habit, don't worry. Instead, modify your habit to make it more achievable and start over.
Here are some ideas for healthy habits:
- Pack your lunch each day for work and stop eating fast food
- Exercise four times per week for 60 minutes each time
- Eat a piece of fruit or vegetables for your afternoon snack each day
- Get up earlier in the mornings and exercise for an hour before going to work
- Work with a personal trainer three times per week
- Take a multivitamin and a fish oil capsule each morning with breakfast
- Drink at least eight cups of water each day
- Sleep at least seven hours each night
- Perform stretches each evening before bed
- Eat every two to four hours or four to six meals daily
- Eat lean protein (e.g., chicken, turkey, bison, fish, eggs, dairy, soy) with each meal
- Replace grains with greens during each meal
- Eat vegetables with each meal
- Eat about 30% each of saturated (e.g., eggs, dairy, meats, cheeses), monounsaturated (e.g., extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados) and polyunsaturated (e.g., nuts, vegetable oil, fish oil) fats daily
Remember to choose ONLY ONE habit to develop at a time and master it before moving on to another habit. After you've chosen your habit, write it down. Now write down three motivators for doing the habit, the obstacles you'll likely come across, and how to overcome these obstacles. For example, I've chosen the habit of getting up earlier each morning to do some interval sprints on the track for twenty minutes before working with clients. My three motivators are: to lean out my midsection to obtain more defined abs; to feel good and more energized during the day; and to feel good about myself. The obstacles I'm likely face are: not feeling motivated to getting up earlier each morning; not wanting to drive to the track without incentive (i.e., clients scheduled around my sprint sessions). I will overcome these obstacles by setting the alarm clock to ensure I wake up and get out of bed earlier and ensuring my clientele schedule is accommodating to my sprint sessions.
Ensure you stick to your habit by sharing it with your friends and loved ones. You can use Facebook, Twitter, email, or whatever to let your peeps know about your habit. Then make a deadline for when you expect to maintain this habit for the long-term and let your friends know to keep you accountable. Keep your friends updated on the progress of your habit to ensure you stick with it. To help you with this, schedule your habit in your calendar and keep a journal to track your progress.
Check out the following websites that have tools to develop and maintain healthy habits:
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."