Re-think your infrastructure. Many bad habits develop because we have created an infrastructure to support them. You eat chips before dinner because there’s a package of Tostitos in the cupboard. You avoid a walk when it’s 20 degrees outside because you don’t have the proper gear to keep you warm. You hit the snooze in the morning and skip the gym because the alarm sits right beside the bed.
How can you arrange your home differently to promote better habits? How can you makeover the cupboard or refrigerator so that you’re not tempted to eat brownies and chips? Are there any clothes or other gear you could buy to motivate yourself to exercise? Click here for more ideas on how to create a healthy living infrastructure.
Know why. My weakness is sweets. Yours may be salty snacks or an afternoon coffee drink. Maybe you drink one too many glasses of wine while cooking dinner. What is the job description of that food or beverage as it pertains to working your body?
For example, a coffee drink may wake you up on the afternoon while satisfying a sugar craving. You might be eating a bag of chips at your desk because you’re bored, rather than hungry. That wine at night may taste good but also relax you after a stressful day. Sound familiar?
There may be substitute products or activities fill that same need in a way that’s less fattening and more fulfilling.
Make it a habit. Habits are easier to make than break, particularly when you’re trying to ditch the bad ones for the good. In fact, a classic rule-of-thumb is that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. Other psychologists think the time involved “depends” on a number of factors, including how long the bad habit has been part of your ritual, its payoff and how challenging the new habit will be to instill.
Either way, doing something once won’t be a guarantee for a sure thing. The longer you keep at the good habits, the more likely that good habit will stick.
Find a mentor. For some, a diet or workout buddy dramatically improves compliance. Having a partner-in-crime to hold you accountable generally helps.
Throughout my professional career, I’ve frequently been reminded of the value of a good mentor. The same theory can transcend to your good health, too. If you can’t afford to hire a personal coach, then turn to a respected friend or class instructor. Even if someone is not formally holding your hand along your journey to better health, their words of wisdom or good example may be exactly what you need to drive positive change.
Make it a family affair. What started as a small challenge with my child during football season has turned into an exercise habit that has stuck! It started with one painful push-up and has currently leveled out at forty, and we still dare each other to healthy competitions all the time.
What can you challenge your son, daughter or spouse to do? Keep it simple and make it fun, and it might just turn into something valuable for your health.
Forget about it. Whether it’s healthy habits or daily living, nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. And that’s ok! If we didn’t make mistakes, we’d never learn how to do things better next time.
So if you’re like Bridget Jones and eat too many ham-and-cheese Panini’s one day, cut yourself a break and do better the next. Forget the past, forgive yourself and move on.
Photos courtesy of: