How to Create Healthy Eating and Workout Habits

Eager to adopt healthier habits but don’t know where to start? An exercise routine and balanced diet are well within your reach. All it takes is an open mind and the desire to change. Here are seven tips on how to make healthy habits a permanent part of your lifestyle.

Find the Right Motivation: Most people change their diet or exercise routine for superficial reasons. They want to lose 30 pounds so they can fit into an outfit. Or they need to drop 50 pounds before going on a cruise. This can set you up for disappointment and ultimately, failure. Instead, target non-scale victories such as more energy, better sleep, or less stress. When you center your health, weight loss and smaller clothes are a natural side effect. Focus on the feeling, not the numbers.

Eat to Satisfy, Not to Stuff. Once you’ve changed your mindset, change your portions. It can be difficult eliminating your favorite foods, so just limit them. Adopt the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80 percent of the time and enjoy your favorite treats the remaining 20. Also, use smaller plates and bowls to keep your serving sizes in check. Aim for a diet of mostly nutrient-dense foods consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Create an Environment for Success: Remove any triggers that may undermine your progress. That could be junk food, alcohol, or sugary beverages. If you can’t have it in moderation, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Whether at home or work, the places you spend the most amount of time should be conducive to your new lifestyle.

Make Exercise Fun: If you hate working out, you won’t do it. Find activities you genuinely enjoy. If you’re not a natural runner, don’t force yourself onto the treadmill. Try swimming, kick-boxing, or the elliptical as a source of cardio. If you dread lifting dumbbells, there are plenty of bodyweight exercises that provide the same amount of resistance and muscle-building benefits.

Start Small: To make lasting change, start from the bottom up. Don’t aim for an hour-long gym session, when 15 minutes might be more realistic. Slowly increase the time and difficulty as your performance improves. Follow your body’s cues and adapt accordingly.

Write It Down: For some, a visual aid is the key to making a habit stick. It’s a way to keep you motivated and on the right track. You can make a checklist of mini-goals or take the artistic route and create a vision board. There’s also journaling, which can help you identify unhealthy habits and their underlying triggers.

Embrace Challenges: Have you ever heard the quote, “A winner is just a loser who never gave up?” During this transition, you’re bound to make mistakes. They are a natural part of the process. The goal is to acknowledge them, learn from them, and move forward. Recognize your faults but don’t let them diminish your spirit. You will only fail if you stop trying.

It takes anywhere from 18 to 200-plus days to develop a new habit. Go at your own pace.

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Photo credit: GeorgeRudy

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