Creating Healthy Habits For Life
With every new year comes new resolutions. Usually these new resolutions are old ones leftover from the previous year. The most common new year’s resolutions are to eat healthier, exercise more, and get your finances in order. These resolutions start strong for some while others can’t make it a full week. Statistics show us that most people are likely to give up their resolutions by January 19th. In fact, only 16% of Americans keep some of their resolutions.
Why is that? Why do we try to create resolutions or habits that we know are good for us, but somehow can’t seem to make them stick? The answer may be simpler than you realize— we give ourselves too broad of habits or habits that are unrealistic. These two factors may be the reasons that you are have trouble sticking to your new year’s resolutions.
In this week’s blog we will list a few ways to help you not only stick to your resolutions but also how to create healthy habits for life.
The best advice when creating any kind of goal is to make them SMART goals. You may have heard of this acronym before, but if you have not, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time sensitive. So when you create a goal you need to make sure that you are being specific with what you want, have a way to measure your progress, are creating a goal that is relevant and achievable by you, and that it is time sensitive.
An example of a smart goal may be, I will go to the gym three times each week for at least 30 minutes until the first of May. This goal is specific because I stated how often I will be going and for how long. This goal is measurable because I can record whether or not I met my 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. The goal is relevant and achievable because it is something that I want to accomplish before the summer and it is beneficial to my health. Lastly, the goal is time sensitive because I stated that I want to do this habit until the first of May. Creating SMART goals is a way to break down a goal and make sure that it is as tangible and realistic as possible.
After you create your SMART goal, create a list of all the things that you may need to do to get to that goal. In other words, break it down into actionable steps. It can be difficult to abruptly incorporate a new habit into your life so breaking it down is an easier way to get to your end goal.
Using the above example, maybe you don’t feel comfortable going to the gym but your goal is to get there three times a week for 30 minutes until May. Break that down into exercising at home three times a week for 30 minutes for the month of January. Then plan to enter the gym from February to June. By first creating the habit at home, you can advance it into a habit at the gym.
Another example may be, if your SMART goal is to meal prep cook 4 healthy home meals 4 nights a week until the end of the year, then you may want to initially start by researching at least 2 healthy meal recipes each day until the end of January. That way you can have a foundation to build your habit off of without getting overwhelmed and giving up.
Often we like to be “all or nothing” people because it appears more satisfying to the mind, but when we do this we set ourselves up for failure. It is unrealistic for me to want to go the gym 3 times a week when I have never been in a gym before or for me to meal prep 4 healthy meals when I have no idea what a healthy meal consists of. We need to learn how to slowly ease ourselves into these big lifestyle changes because initially jumping into something new may seem like a good idea but when it doesn’t stick you are left feeling even more disappointed than before.
It is said that it only takes 21 days to create and solidify a habit so another tip is to make your SMART goals with something that is time sensitive for 21 days. This can be more effective and may be easier to obtained. Sometimes it is daunting to look at a goal that is mapped out until the end of the year. If you find it difficult to set goals for the full year start with 21 days, then see how you feel—if the habit feels like it is positively benefiting you, then continue on; if it feels like nothing has changed, then it may be time to alter your goal.
In the end, creating manageable habits that are bound to stick in your life can be challenging; however, by making your goals SMART you can break them down into actionable steps. Be consistent and you may just find yourself keeping those new year’s resolutions after all!