Just over a year ago I decided I wanted to get healthier, so last year was my year of health. Instead of new year resolutions I set a theme to get healthier and each week I added one small habit.
Unfortunately, last year was not a healthy year. It started with a sickness illness and ended with a persistent cold that I had for over two months. So it should be easy for you to have a healthier year than me!
4 ways to ensure you have a healthier year than me
Know what you want to achieve and focus on it
Make sure you understand what you mean by healthier. I didn’t want to focus on weight reduction, but didn’t know what I was focusing on. So I introduced a mix of habits thinking it would be easier, than doing one area in quick succession. However, if you focus on one area, you will see quicker progress which will motivate you to keep going.
For example looking at some of my habits I could have organised them by monthly themes.
Month 1 — Improve sleep
- Head down at least 7 hours and 10 minutes before I want to wake up
- Meditate before going to bed
- Put my phone across the room at night
- Turn off all screens at 10pm
Month 2 — Improve my diet
- Eat a small portion of nuts
- Eat porridge
- Eat raw vegetables
- Don’t eat biscuits.
Remember why you want to be healthier
Deep down there is a reason why you want to be healthier; a reason that is not just connected to looking better on Instagram. If you’re not sure, get some paper
- at the top write Why do I want to be healthy?
- Underneath write your answer
- Underneath write Why?
- Followed by your answer
- Keep going until you find your real reason.
I spent some time on this and wrote a description of my future healthy self. I added it to a vision board app on my phone and read it before I did my morning meditation.
I am healthy and enjoy a long and energetic life, so I’m around to spend quality time with my family, my children and their children. I will live in my own home and travel to visit family and friends with minimum medical support or intervention.
Although this is a reasonable vision I don’t think it has enough “Why” to motivate or inspire me. I think I could have improved it by making it more detailed, for example what do I mean by more energetic (walking to the shops or running marathons). And by making it nearer in time. Yes I worry about the state of my health in my old age, but I think it was too distant to inspire me. If I can improve my health habits now they will move me towards this future vision, but I need to be doing these habits now. So I should have been visuallisng why I want to be healthier in the near future. For example:
- I get enough sleep every day, so I wake feeling energised and my mood remains happy and motivated
- I am eager to exercise as I know this will help me sleep better, help my stamina, develop muscles and increase my flexibility
- I support my body with suitable nutrition so it can function efficiently with the confidence this will help resolve some of my physical niggles such as eczema
Remind yourself of your habits
You are changing your past behaviour so you may need to remind yourself to do something different. Make it easy on yourself by making the reminder as obvious as possible. I used a mobile app but it would have been better to have something visual I saw in the morning. I often didn’t complete the app until I went to bed and by then the reminder was too late.
You can also remind yourself of the habits you want to introduce by using affirmations. Think about the type of person you want to be and when repeat this to yourself when you’ve got a choice to make. For example, when you get your lunch out to eat at your desk say “I am the type of person who exercises daily so today I will go for a walk before eating this food.”
Start with the easiest habits
Look through the list of changes you’d like to change and pick the ones you think will be easiest. Maybe you already do them some of the time, they adapt an existing habit or you have a supportive cheerleader encouraging you. For example, I found it easy to:
- stop charging my mobile phone next to the bed because I moved the plug to the other side of the room
- have seeds every day because I added them to my porridge.
By starting with the easiest habits you will build your confidence as you learn you can change your behaviour, you will start to see an impact and you will build your habit changing muscle. All these benefits will help you implement more in changes in the future.
How unhealthy was my year
My year definitely had ups and downs. As I said earlier, I started the year with a grim stomach illness and I finished the year with cold after cold with some flu in the middle. My half year review showed I was making progress, but there were a lot of habits that were hit and miss. And soon after that it felt like I stopped doing most of the habits altogether. I felt so lethargic I just did not want to think about making any changes or doing anything that needed physical or mental effort. I spoke to my chiropractor about my permanent cold, and he said my immune system was low. Which is not a good result for a year when I was working on making healthy lifestyle changes!
Does it mean last year was a failure? I’m going to be bold and say, no, it doesn’t. Of course, it wasn’t the success that I wanted, but I have changed some behaviours, including drinking green tea, and eating porridge every day.
My future health plans
Interestingly, it seems that some of the habits may have been slow burn as I am finding it easier to implement them this year. And I want to build on that and really embed them this year. Although I’m not going to continue with a checklist or progress chart to start with. I know the three most important changes I need to make and I’ve learnt from experience it doesn’t encourage me to track them, I know when I’ve got them in place by how I’m feeling:
- More sleep
- More exercise
- Cleaner diet
Good luck with improving your health, and I really hope you learn from my experience. Please let me know how you get on, and what works for you.