Easy Steps to Create Healthy Habits (by Laura Pappas, Health Coach)

Easy Steps to Create Healthy Habits (by Laura Pappas, Health Coach)

meditationWhat if I told you that you probably already know the top 3 things you can do to be healthier?  As a health coach, I find that if I ask someone that questions it’s pretty easy for them to rattle off a few things – ditch the diet soda, move more, eat more vegetables, you probably are thinking of your three right now!  So why is it that so many people may actually already know what they can do to start being healthier, but they don’t take action and do it?

The reasons we all don’t take charge of our health vary, I think the biggest thing is that many people don’t know where to start.  So let’s talk about what you can do to take those top three things (write them down now if you haven’t already!) and make them healthy habits that you incorporate into your daily life.

How to create a healthy habit:

1.     Write down the top 3 things that you can do to be healthier right now

2.     Select one and tackle it

3.     Identify exactly what you are going to do, for how long, and what success will look like

4.     Set realistic timeline – takes at least 3 weeks/21 days to break a habit or make a new one

5.     Hold yourself accountable and get support – from your family, friends, a buddy, group online…you get the picture

6.     Don’t give up!

One of the tricky things is that you try to make too many changes at once, become overwhelmed and then discouraged, and before you know it back to where you started and feeling like a failure.  Don’t make too many changes at once, break down your goal and take incremental steps, and work towards your clear goal.  For example, if my goal is to move more, what exactly does that mean?  How do I know if I’m succeeding?  Instead of “moving more” make your goal more actionable, to start say walk for 1 hour, 2 times a week and keep it up for 2 months.  Ideally you want to plan to do this for at least 3 weeks so that you can incorporate the positive healthy behavior into your lifestyle and make it a healthy habit that sticks!

In addition to setting a realistic goal and timeline, enlist support of your friends and family.  For my goal of walking 2 times per week, I would be more inclined to do it if I went with a friend, called my sister during that time, and added it to my calendar like an appointment.  All of these things are things that you can do to help hold yourself accountable and get the support of others too.

The key to making changes and healthy habits is to make small changes, slowly, overtime and not taking on too much change at once.  Ideally you are making smaller sustainable changes that add up to something much larger.  Remember to celebrate your successes along the way and not to get discouraged by set-backs, learn from it instead and keep moving forward.

This blog post was written by Laura Pappas, she is a certified health coach that works with her clients to adopt dietary changes focusing on a whole foods and Paleo approach to eating.  You can find her and more information on her blog,  Against the Grain.