I’m sure you know you’re not going to make big changes by continuing to do the same things over and over again. That’s the definition of insanity and one of the reasons it’s so frustrating to lose weight. Even though we don’t mean to, most of us try to lose weight without changing our habits. Of course we think we’re creating healthy habits but in reality we might change something for a couple days but then fall back into old habits and routines that bring us back to square one. Ugh. Been there!
If you want to change then you need to change something you do daily. And not just for one day. You need to make permanent lifestyle changes. This means the healthy habits you put in place on the first days need to stick around forever.
I know that sounds scary but it doesn’t need to be.
Over the years I’ve removed many bad habits and replaced them with healthier habits. I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement but I do feel confident in my “healthy habit sticking” abilities. In the last 7 years I’ve completely changed my life and all of that is due to changing my habits.
Here are the 5 things that helped me create healthy habits that stuck for good!
#1. Identify the habit you want to change.
Many of us go into weight loss simply saying “I need to lose ___ lbs”. Of course, we know we need to eat healthy and exercise but if we don’t pinpoint the habit we want to focus on we’ll end up floundering. My advice is choose 1-3 healthy habits to focus on at a time. Also, be as specific as possible. For example, instead of saying “I need to exercise” say “I want to start a morning exercise routine 4-5 times a week”. Now you have something to work with.
Or instead of saying “I want to eat healthier” say “I’m going to keep calories between 1300 – 1500 a day, not eat past 7:00pm, and keep meals free of white carbs”. Again, this is easier to build a plan around, which bring me to the next step.
#2. Plan for it.
I’m sure you’ve heard the popular quote “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”. This is true in all areas of life and changing your lifestyle is no exception. You can’t expect to just wake up and break decades of bad habits without a plan. A plan essentially is your road map, it lays out exactly what’s needed to change your habits.
For example, if your goal is start a morning exercise routine then your plan would include having exercise gear ready for the morning, what time you’ll wake up and go to bed, an exercise routine, and anything else you need to make morning exercise a priority.
Same with changing your eating habits. If you’ve lived off pizza and pasta for the last 30 years you can’t expect to magically start eating clean without some sort of plan. You need to put together a meal plan, make time to meal prep, and pay attention to portions, calories, and other nutritional information.
If you’re struggling with putting together healthy meal plans, and have zero time to go to the grocery store, then consider a meal kit delivery service like Sun Basket or Green Chef. Both services offer portion-controlled nutritious meals that are delivered right to your door. All you need to do is cook them. You can read my Sun Basket review and Green Chef review for more information. Or go right to their website to get your first box. Here’s a $35 coupon for Sun Basket Or a $40 coupon off your first box for Green Chef.
Taking the time to put a plan in place will make it easier for our brains to accept change, because we all know convincing our brains is half the battle. Without a plan we lack direction and when we don’t have direction we tend to go back to our old comfortable ways. Therefore, if you want a new healthy habit to stick then you need to plan for it.
#3. Do it everyday.
There’s a reason 30-day challenges are popular and can be successful. They require you to focus intensely on a habit for 30-days which is the perfect amount of time to get a habit to stick. Most habits take about 3-4 weeks to become routine so if you can make it past 3 weeks then it’s very likely you’ll get that new habit to stick.
When I’m working on a new habit I make it a point to do it every single day. Of course, it’s not necessary to keep up this intensity forever. However, in the beginning I found this to be very helpful with breaking old habits and starting new ones.
Let’s go back to the morning exercise habit. If you’re not used to waking up at 5:00am to exercise, and only do it 1-2 times a week, it’s going to very hard to continue with this new habit because the old habits are still more dominant. However, if you do it everyday then that habit takes the place of the old habit and after 3 weeks it becomes your new routine.
If you’re struggling to keep up with a new habit then make a commitment to focus on it every day for 30 days. This will help remove old habits and reprogram new ones.
#4. Remove triggers.
You can’t expect to start new habits if your environment is filled with triggers. If you want to eat healthier but can’t stay away from the bag of pretzels or carton of ice cream then get rid of it. If you want to exercise in the morning but end up sitting on the couch and watching TV then leave the TV off. If you downward spiral every time you are faced with stress then work on your coping skills. We are creatures of habit and unless we remove triggers from our life it’s going to be difficult to do things differently.
#5. Do it long enough to see results.
I think we give up on new healthy habits because we don’t see results fast enough. But here’s the thing. Most of us have decades of bad habits to break and that takes time. So, you’re not going to see big results right away. In fact, you probably won’t see any physical changes for about 4-6 weeks. However, you’ll experience small wins along the way and those should be celebrated. You’ll have more energy and focus, feel less bloated, and most likely less stressed. After about 6 weeks your body will start to change. Your clothes will feel loose, you face will be thinner, and you’ll start to feel much more comfortable in your own skin. So my advice is to stick with a habit for at least 4-6 weeks. The first couple weeks are the hardest but if you can get through that it get easier.
Creating healthy habits, changing your lifestyle, and losing weight is possible with these tips. Somedays it might seem impossible to make these kind of big changes but it is possible and you can make healthy habits stick for good!
Have you seen success with changing habits? What advice do you have have to share? Do you have any questions about creating healthy habits?