Finally, we are done with 2020 – what an unexpected year it was! We speak for most of us when we say that this year’s resolution has to be ‘more exercise and a healthier diet’.
Wait, didn’t we make a similar resolution the previous year? And the year before that? And the one before that?
Here’s the thing: The motivation that we experience in the first week of January every year is short-lived, and for most of us, it wears off by the next month. Developing and maintaining a fitter physique, however, takes a longer time.
You cannot exercise once and hope to reap its benefits forever. It just does not work like that. Good health is NOT a goal to be achieved, rather a lifestyle to be maintained. Instead of setting mere fitness goals, we ought to inculcate healthy habits to enhance the quality of our daily life. These habits become second nature over time and no longer require conscious effort and attention on our part.
We have listed below ten simple yet effective ways to develop healthy habits:
#1 Be Aware/Mindful
Being aware of how we are and what we doing currently may solve half the problem. Scientifically, our brain loves consistency. Doing certain things repeatedly in a set manner invokes a desirable sensation in the human mind. This is perhaps why we perform a lot of our daily activities mechanically.
We know we are doing our daily activities, but we aren’t conscious about how or why we are doing them. And that’s not always a good thing. Most people have their favorite movie or web series streaming in front of them during every single meal. Naturally, we don’t pay much attention to how much we are eating. The same is true for a lot of our habits, such as brushing and sleeping.
The first step towards a healthier lifestyle is to become mindful of how we are living right now. Take note of every single thing you do daily for a week. Try to be conscious of your existing habits because the first step towards changing anything is to acknowledge and understand it.
#2 Less Is More
Growth is not about adding more to your life but removing the unnecessary add ons from yourself. We often overlook the simple fact that we have limited time on our hands. There is only so much we can hope to do in the twenty-four hours of the day given to us. We have so much on our plate that developing a new habit can seem overwhelming.
Just like every drop makes a mighty ocean, cultivating healthy habits slowly and steadily can go a long way in improving the quality of your life.
#3 Plan It Up
Everything is achievable once you break it down into small manageable steps. Planning is key to bringing concrete, sustainable changes in any facet of our life. Developing habits that transform our body and mind will need at least some level of planning. And that’s something most of us fail to do.
We do not need to plan every minute of our day to make the most of it, fitness-wise at least. All we need to do is plan how we will incorporate those two or three healthy habits into an otherwise busy schedule. The better you plan, the easier it is to follow.
#4 Reward Yourself
Going off the grid is not easy and if you have chosen to do so to get healthy, then an incentive here and there doesn’t hurt anyone. Psychological studies elucidate the importance of Rewards as a reinforcement to elicit favorable behavior. But, when you don’t see the required progress on your timeline, it could be disheartening.
Despite being aware of the importance of regular exercise and healthy food habits, we feel like doing the exact opposite. It is during these moments that our self-control and discipline are tested. Of course, you can have your cheat days and occasional indulgences, but how well you stick to your routine the rest of the time will make all the difference.
#5 Build A Support System
Based on research, our behavior in maintaining our health is a reflection of the behavior and habits portrayed by those closest to us. Our family and friends have a big say in our daily lifestyle, directly as well as subconsciously. When surrounded by people who prioritize health and fitness, we are influenced to do the same.
Another benefit of involving your loved ones in your health-oriented activities is that they will help you stay on track and provide the moral boost required during tough days.
A good way to ensure your self-control does not falter is by rewarding yourself from time to time. The next time you stop yourself from having that extra slice of pizza, maybe treat yourself to a movie or some shopping.
#6 Get Smart
We live in a digital world, and we are leaving behind a digital footprint of all our activities. There are ways to track these activities by using fitness apps such as HealthifyMe that come with health trackers. Since we carry our phones everywhere we go, they can be our perfect health monitors. For all the flak technology receives about ruining human health, it can do us some good too, don’t you think?
#7 Make it Fun
The best way to stick to a routine is by making it enjoyable for yourself. We have this deep-rooted notion that to achieve something, we must first suffer. That is not always the case. You can take up a sport that you enjoy and turn it into your exercise routine. You can add various enjoyable activities to your day that will benefit your health while being fun.
You can apply the same principle to your diet as well. A good diet need not be a bland diet. You can add your favorite fruits, nuts, and various palatable yet healthy recipes to your meals. The biggest advantage here is that you don’t have to find ways to avoid the things that you like. Won’t that solve the problem of procrastination we all suffer from?
Research shows that visualizing your goals is very useful. There are various levels to the visualization technique, but the general principle is simple. All you need to do is visualize yourself living a healthy lifestyle. Not much to lose, is there? We might as well give it a try!
#9 Healthy Consumption
Building on the principle of the aforementioned visualization principle, our mind creates our reality. So, it is important to feed your mind the right kind of thoughts. A lot of what you read and watch about the human body may seem contradictory, and the best way around that is by recognizing what works for your body and what does not.
Consuming fitness content like books, podcasts, documentaries, etc., is a good way to do that. Reading and listening to fitness content can also help us get in the right mindset to develop and inculcate healthy habits in our lives.
#10 Be Patient
Patience is the key when starting on a fitness journey because we will not see instant results, which can be discouraging at times. It is almost always the reason why most people give up on their fitness goals halfway. During such times, remember that all worthwhile things in life take time. Developing physical fitness and agility, transforming your mind & body, and inculcating good habits are no different.
To sum it up: Keep things simple, have fun, be patient and trust in the process; the results will show.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. Always start small. Add one healthy habit to your routine and follow it at least for a month before adding the next.
A. No, not right away. Initially, focus on home workouts and a healthy diet.
A. It is a gradual process, but with consistency, it is possible to see the desired results.
A. Depends on the health tracking feature. You can get started with fairly accurate health and fitness tracking apps such as HealthifyMe on your smartphone for free.
A. There are various fitness blogs, health books, and scientific articles available online.