Are Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Health?
Are Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Health?
Americans spend almost $10 billion per year on self-improvement, but even with that rate of spending many people don’t see much improvement in their health and wellbeing.
What is going on?
There are so many reasons why your success may be hampered. Are you tackling too much at once, being overly hard on yourself, or just not ready or sure of how to take that first step? You may have given up on your health goals too soon or simply not had a well-developed plan of how to commit to healthy habits.
Getting healthy takes planning, effort and, most of all, patience.
Here are a few ideas on where to start:
1. Inventory where are you are now with habits that don’t serve your health goals.
Do you over-snack after dinner? Maybe you’re not eating enough during the day or maybe it’s just a habit that can be replaced. Create new habits like drinking an herbal tea that can help with sleep, a long walk or light stretching.
Do you drink wine every night while prepping dinner or watching tv? Consider why you need the wine – is it to relax or just a habit? If relaxation or unwinding is the motivation, research other ways to deal with stress and find tools to help decompress at the end of the day.
2. Set small goals.
Setting big goals is exciting but starting with small, boring goals is more likely to lead to success. A small goal, for example, would be to meditate for 5 minutes, or replace one unhealthy snack with raw veggies, or walk 15 minutes per day.
3. Consider where you are with emotionally with making changes.
When people set out to improve their health, they often think about action. Eat better, meditate, run more. But the truth is that getting healthy starts in your head.
If you don’t feel ready to take an action step forward, don’t worry. Be patient and focus on “cognitive goals”, think about your options, consider the benefits of change versus staying the same, and map out how you might best integrate new healthy behaviors in your life. In due time, you’ll feel ready to take an action step forward, and the cognitive work you’ve done will pay off.
4. Shift your focus to the long-term.
Short-term solutions, like seven-day cleanses or 21-day fitness crazes, are designed to jumpstart healthy living and produce rapid results. But they’re often not feasible for the long-term.
The key to getting healthy isn’t having a taste of your ideal self for a few weeks then reverting back to old ways. It’s about creating sustainable change. Consider behaviors you can adopt that you’ll be more likely to stick with over time. This way, your efforts won’t be lost, and you’ll feel the true benefits of change.
5. Be accountable to yourself or someone else
People work harder when they feel accountable to someone. Whether it’s a coach, mentor, friend, family member, or work buddy, having others to report to can provide that necessary push you need to get stuff done. But ultimately you are responsible for your behavior.
There is no more powerful accountability partner than yourself. Rather than relying only on others, set up a system whereby you regularly track your own progress. Ask yourself what helped you succeed versus what might have caused you to get off track. Reward yourself when things go well but don’t beat yourself up when they don’t. As time goes on, you’ll notice patterns of what hinders your progress and what needs to be in place for you to make healthy choices. While it’s helpful to have accountability partners, recognize that it is you who has the most knowledge and experience to set yourself up for success.
As humans we are creatures of habit. Whether it’s a morning ritual or using the same route to the grocery store each week, habits are comforting and predictable.
What bad habits can you shift that will serve you and your health goals?