How many times have you said to yourself that you will get up at 6:00 a.m. for yoga or a run, that you will quit sugar for a month or go sober indefinitely?
When we have strict expectations and then beat ourselves up if we don’t make the change overnight, it’s worse for us than having unhealthy habits because of the mental and emotional stress that we put ourselves through.
In the past, I have gone about creating habits in such a way that all it did was made me feel guilty for not being able to strictly adhere to them.
I felt bad if I didn’t exercise early first thing in the morning, if I didn’t feel like a green smoothie or if I had some chocolate. This kind of mentality is not helpful and if we want to make healthy habits that actually stick, there are other ways we can go about it.
Here you will find some of my favourite ways to create achievable goals when it comes to health and wellness.
1. Set realistic boundaries.
We are all different—some may thrive on a raw vegan or paleo diet and others won’t. Working out what suits our own needs is always going to be the best approach. For me, setting realistic boundaries might include daily yoga, but at a time I’m more motivated to do it—say, late morning—and if I miss it, then I don’t beat myself up about it. I also know I would like to include more raw foods in my diet but know that a completely raw diet isn’t my style, so I’m realistic and instead aim to include as many raw foods as snacks. Being honest with ourselves makes us feel much more positive about the whole process.
2. Don’t punish yourself.
It takes time to change a habit and old patterns so there is no point in expecting an overnight shift. It’s a learning curve and a process. If I fall off the wagon I just get back on and try my best not to feel bad about it. We are human after all. We all have emotions, and good days and bad days, so it’s not the end of the world if we do slip up.
3. Take baby steps.
Going totally sugar free overnight is probably a big call to make if you’re addicted to the stuff. Taking baby steps, setting achievable goals and celebrating wins such as a great workout or a week of healthy eating is a great place to start. I find easing myself into new habits is the best way to make them a lasting part of my lifestyle.
4. Reward yourself.
I find celebrating wins, no matter how big or small, are great for boosting confidence in yourself—and it boosts motivation to continue. It could mean going out for dinner, a trip to the movies, shopping or whatever feels like a nice reward. Celebrate the wins!
5. Create a schedule that works for you.
Planning ahead is the best way for me to actually get things done, otherwise they remain as ideas and don’t actually turn into actions. Writing them down and scheduling a time that fits with my lifestyle helps me to make them happen. There is no one-size-fits-all because we all have different commitments, so do what works for you.
6. Don’t deprive yourself.
Some days we just don’t feel like exercising or we feel like having some comfort food, and that is okay. Healthy and happy living should not be about deprivation or rigid guidelines.
7. Seek healthy alternatives.
Love chocolate? Get experimenting with making your own healthy, raw chocolates. Love chips? Experiment with baking sweet potato chips in the oven or make kale chips by dehydrating them and adding yummy herbs, spices and sea salt. An ice cream fan? Try making your own healthy ice cream with frozen fruits and coconut milk with a banana to sweeten. There are plenty of healthy alternatives that will leave you feeling more than satisfied.
8. Get support.
Ask your family, friends or partner to help encourage you in sticking to your new lifestyle changes. I find asking a friend to join me for exercise or getting my partner on board with healthy eating really helps to hold me accountable and make the shift.
Creating healthy habits doesn’t need to feel overwhelming or difficult.
The key is to set yourself up—get the right information and support. These tips helped me create healthy habits that actually stick because they motivate me, are realistic and at the end of the day I actually feel good about them. So why not give it a try!
Author: Kate Harrison
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Lily Lvnatikk/Unsplash