Do you have healthy habits? I’m sure I’m not the only one who is rushing between different commitments at the expense of looking after myself. For example, not going to bed early as there is stuff that needs doing and chores take priority over exercise.
Your future self — who are you becoming?
What is your future self like? Mine is energised, refreshed and motivated about life. I look like a person jumping for joy in a motivational image.
Now think about your daily habits and lifestyle. Are they taking you towards the future you want?
I realised towards the end of last year that mine weren’t. In fact, my habits and lifestyle were taking me away from it; towards an old health where I struggle to get out of a chair and rely on drugs to keep me alive. Now that is not appealing and doesn’t match my vision of chasing grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) around a park.
So I needed to take action.
This year, instead of setting new year resolutions I set a theme of improving my health incorporating a number of actions:
- Health focused vision
- Health focused affirmations that come up through the day on my phone
- Introducing a healthy habit each week
- Reading books on health themes
This theme is about improving my long term health. The focus is not about short term weight loss or improving how I look. Of course, I hope I will see improvement there, but I’m looking to make sensible long term changes not introduce a fad diet.
Being completely honest with you, my biggest health issue could be that I am over weight, in fact I weigh more than my husband. I lost 2.5 stone a few years ago and have put most of it back on. I thought I’d lose it before we went on a cruise, or for Christmas, but my will power was not strong enough to change my habits.
I needed a new approach. Something that was easy to introduce so I’d keep going with it, but something that would still benefit my health over time. And if I introduced 50 small habits during the year, they would add up to a big improvement in my health.
I used a habit tracking app on my phone to keep me motivated. This was particularly important at the start as I didn’t see an impact from habits straightaway. I’m delighted to say that at 6 months I’m noticing a shift in my mindset and I want to do some habits without a reminder.
Is it easy to start healthy habits?
It varies. And from my experience over the last 6 months it varies significantly.
Looking at how often I’ve completed each task compared to the number of days it has been an active habit, varies from 6% to 96%. Looking at the completion rates, nutrition is my best theme and physical my worst.
Why do I find it easier to introduce some habits?
Adapting an action I already do — I always plug in my phone at night, so I’ve changed where the plug is
Building an association with an existing habit — I have porridge most mornings, so I sprinkle seeds on top. I am working on flossing straight after I clean my teeth, so it becomes automatic that I put my tooth brush down and pick up the floss
I’m finding it harder to complete the actions that are standalone or need preparation. These are the ones I need to look at differently. For example, I want to do exercises as part of my miracle morning but as that has fallen to the wayside at the moment the exercise has gone with it.
Tips for introducing healthy habits
Here are my tips for introducing healthy habits, based on my experience during the first half of the year.
- Be clear on your goal and choose habits that move you towards it, don’t worry if they seem too small to have an impact because this is about creating a cumulative effect
- Be open to new ideas from different sources, so some ideas about what you might want to introduce but don’t have a defined list from the start
- Track how you’re doing every day using an app, star chart, tick sheet or bullet journal
- Accept you won’t be perfect, this is about moving you in a direction and not being perfect. Life happens and could impact on your plans for a day, but don’t let it impact on you reaching your goal by giving up completely
- Remind yourself why you want to improve your health. I didn’t do this enough early on, but now I look at my vision every morning before meditating
- Review your progress, if you’re struggling with a specific habit consider if you can change when or how you do it, or if you can connect to an existing habit
- Consume motivating, educational and informational material that support and inspire new ideas for your actions, reaffirm why you have picked them and motivate you to complete them
- Be patient, you need to have faith you are having an impact as you may not see it from the beginning
I am converted to starting with simple habits to develop a mindset and build up momentum. When I look at some habits I’ve introduced recently, at the start of the year I would not have thought about them such as not eating crisps.
What have you done to improve your health? What healthy habits do you recommend I introduce?