Taking on and sustaining a healthy lifestyle takes a little planning and patience to get in the groove and stay there. Habit-forming takes at least three weeks if not up to three months to become ingrained.
Luckily for you, after years of Unislim of helping people successfully reach their goals, we know all about this stuff.
Our Top Ten tips will help you to form your new, healthy habits. So if you need a plan to take you from well-intentioned to well-achieved, we’ve got you covered.
1. Make a plan
If you want to create a sustainable change to your lifestyle you’ve got to plan it first. Start by identifying the change you want to see in your life and then schedule the journey to get you there.
2. Becoming healthy all starts in the mind
Write down your overall goals and now break them down into a series of mini-goals. Want to work up to four hours a week at the gym? Pick a realistic target date and work backward building up to your desired output gradually.
3. Pick sustainable goals
You want to create some healthy habits that will yield long-lasting results, right? This isn’t a quick fix. Figure out what small changes you can make to your behaviours that you can realistically stick to and build on. Slow and steady wins the race. Want to run 5k? Begin by walking three times a week and build it up from there.
4. Substitute bad rewards for good ones
Do you reach for a snack or cigarette when you’re feeling a bit stressed? Start to recognise the cues and try to switch the routine to five minutes of mindfulness or doing a few yoga stretches.
Trust us, once you’ve repeated this enough, it will become second nature. An important part of this process is the reward factor. Whether it’s buying yourself a nice coffee or playing your favourite song, you want your brain to associate your new behaviour with a feelgood factor that makes you want to repeat this habit over and over.
5. Track your progress
Write down your mini-goals on a calendar and mark them ‘done’ each time you complete an action. Not only will it give you a visual boost of encouragement it will show you at a glance just how much you’ve done when your motivation is dipping.
6. Be ready for a fall-off in motivation
We’ve all experienced this one and a few days of it in a row can sometimes knock us off the healthy wagon altogether. Anticipate it. Don’t quit because you miss one or two days. Note the circumstances that waylaid your exercise habit or caused you to make unhealthy food choices – a friend calling in, a bad day at work – so you can meet it head-on next time. Put the slippage behind you and keep going.
7. Create behaviour to back up your healthy habits
Don’t make it even harder on yourself in the beginning until you’ve established your new good habits. Avoid the Friday night post-work pub meet up or walking home past your favourite takeaway. Have your running gear ready the night before, buy yourself a nice shower gel for use only after the gym or pack a healthy snack in your lunchbox.
8. Make yourself accountable to someone
Link up with a gym or walking buddy, tell family or friends or post your good intentions on social media. Once you’ve committed to something out loud it’s much harder to bail out.
9. Fake it till you make it
Until it becomes a well-ingrained habit and you actually believe it (and yes this does happen), tell yourself how much you enjoy your new exercise routine. You’ll never regret having exercised. Remind yourself why you’re doing this, how good you feel afterwards and how far you’ve come to keep you pumped and on that healthy train. Once you find the joy in it, that’s when habits tend to stick.
10. Get some tech help
There are lots of apps designed to motivate you to exercise by tracking your healthy ‘streaks’, pitting you against others on fitness leaderboards and sending you effective reminders. While technology falls short of actually pushing you out the door to the gym, it can act as a helpful good habit reinforcer. Even without an app you can stick some reminders into your phone to keep your good habit in mind.
Go for it. Let this be the time you make some lasting positive change to your lifestyle!