Perhaps you’ve been reading this blog and have received a wealth of knowledge on how to build good healthy habits, or you subscribed to other high-level health blogs and know exactly what to do. You could even have a range of exercise programs on your shelf (real or virtual) that would allow you to be in the best shape of your life. However, in spite of all of this, you struggle to keep up with the habits that allow you to stay fit and healthy.
How does a person break unhealthy habits and replace those with good ones?
In this blog post, we will go over habit-forming strategies that will help you kick bad health habits to the curb and pick up the good ones.
How to develop healthy habits
The power of small wins
In his book Atomic Habits, the author, James Clear talks about the power of small wins. It’s empowering to watch TV shows like The Biggest Loser and see people shed their excess weight in mere weeks. The reality, however, is that most of us live in the real world and not on The Biggest Loser ranch. We have families, jobs and responsibilities.
Nonetheless, our minds want us to get the same results the people we’ve seen in these types of shows. The truth is however, that we don’t have the same resources. Instead of beating yourself up for not losing 10 pounds in 1 week, it’s important to take steps that allow you to enjoy small wins.
For instance, you could decide to do nothing but replace your sugary drinks with water for the next one month. This doesn’t seem like much because you may not be running 5 miles on the treadmill everyday, but that is the essence of a “small win”: you are choosing to replace one small habit with a healthy option.
If you stay consistent, thirty days after cutting out sugary drinks, you will feel so empowered by this small decision, that you are more likely to add on another action.
Over time, those habits will compound to result in a healthier you.
Pair a new healthy habit with something you do already
Another easy way to build a good health habit is to combine that habit with something you do already. For instance, let’s say you want to start doing 50 squats everyday, you could decide to do 25 of those squats on your coffee break and another 25 on your lunch break. You already take a coffee and lunch break everyday, and doing 25 squats may take only 5 minutes each.
Pairing those squats with your two breaks would be a great way to get you doing these activities consistently.
Cluster healthy habits
Another strategy that is helpful to forming healthy habits is to group a bunch of healthy habits together and perform those at the same time.
Here’s what we mean: there are certain habits that are small enough that you can perform two or three of them at the same time. For instance, you can take your daily vitamins, drink your first glass of water for the day and drink a fruit smoothie at the same time.
Clustering these healthy habits make it less likely to forget and makes it easier for you to stick to them.
Keep the streak going
It is easier to keep a streak going than to break the streak and start all over again. Cast your mind back to the last habit you tried to form, you went at it for 7 straight days and then a day came along when things got a little crazy and you were not able to keep up the streak.
What happened after that?
Chances are high that the next day, you rationalized why missing that activity was fine, and just like that, it was like that habit ceased to exist. One of the keys to habit formation is to keep it going. Even if you cannot walk for 30 minutes today, walking for 5 minutes (remember, small wins count too) keeps that streak going.
Accountability is essential
The phrase “there is power in numbers” is true for several reasons.
If you’re trying to build a healthy habit and there are other people around you doing the same thing, it’s easier to stick with it long-term. Better yet, if you have someone specific you “check in” with, it will be easier to stick with the habit. For some people, that might mean you hire a personal trainer. For others, It may mean you get together with a few of your co-workers each day after work and go to the gym together, or join a group on social media.
However this might look for you, it is necessary for you to find a person or people you can be accountable with so you can build up those good health habits.
Closing Thoughts On Healthy Habits
The time it takes an individual to form a habit varies from person to person. For someone, a month might do it for them. For another, they might need 3 months to have the habit stick. Whatever the case might be, remember that a habit is something you do automatically. Just like you brush your teeth without thinking much about it, you want to get to the point where you make healthy choices and build good healthy habits without thinking much about it.
The tips in this post will help you get there.