How to Make Health a Habit
Schedule Your Life:
Planning ahead shows dedication, intention, and drive. Those who plan ahead for their physical activity and nutrition often find themselves living healthier lifestyles. At the start of your week, or before every grocery store trip, plan out what healthy meals you want to eat that week. When you cook dinner, plan ahead by cooking double the amount and saving half for the next day. Similarly, packing a lunch the night before helps you resist the urge to grab the unhealthy fast food alternatives. For exercise, look at your daily or weekly schedule and pick out those free times (even 10 minutes) where you can get up and move. Write it in your planner or set a reminder on your phone. We’ve all felt the temptation not to cook or exercise at the end of a long day, but by being prepared, you will be much more likely to go with the healthier option.
Have a Plan B:
Often times we are hit with disruptions in our normal schedules. Whether it’s travel, illness, kids, or an important school assignment, our lives are filled with barriers to healthy living. Try to think of 3 barriers to your health goals, both from an exercise and nutritional standpoint. Then, think up alternative ways that you can navigate around those barriers and still reach your daily goals. Do you travel often? Buy a resistance band to pack in your bag or only stay at a hotel with a gym. Feeling under the weather? Not every workout has to be hard; keep your routine by substituting your normal exercise for a brisk walk or exercise throughout the day in shorter bouts. Did taking care of your children keep you from packing your lunch? Have a back-up snack at work or a go-to healthy fast food option such as a salad or wrap. By having these emergency plans in place, you’ll know how to act when the time comes.
Stack the Pros:
Let’s face it, when it comes time to deciding whether or not to make the healthy choice, our minds flood with excuses. There are a million reasons not to do something, but it’s possible to train yourself to focus on the positives. To begin, write down all the ways that living a healthy lifestyle can benefit you personally. For instance, how does exercise make you feel afterwards? Will exercising make you more mobile and independent? Will it give you more time with your children later in life? Will eating right keep you from having to spend money on expensive medications? Whenever you find yourself spitting out excuses not to be healthy, look at this list of benefits to help sway your decision.
Find Your Motivation:
Exercise for the sake of exercise is great, but realistically, there are more important things in our lives that take priority. One great way to motivate yourself is to connect your fitness goals with your meaningful life goals. What things do you value most in life? How can improving your health impact that which you value? It’s true, this method might take a little forward thinking, but it’s important to look into the future and assess how your health might influence your quality of life down the road.