Want a Healthier and Fitter You?  Make it a Habit.

Want a Healthier and Fitter You? Make it a Habit.

 “Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.”
-St Augustine


I get asked pretty regularly about my eating and fitness routines, and while discipline and motivation may be the initial stimuli to healthy living it is actually making it a habit that should get all the credit for its long-term success.
Your first reaction to that opening statement if you are like most of us is “Well that is all fine and dandy but who has the time to make it a habit?  I work, I have a family and the holidays are here!!!”  Believe it or not you do not need hours a day to lose weight, get fit, change eating patterns, be happy or less stressed.  30 minutes a day is sufficient and short enough of a time frame to make it a priority (that is where the discipline and motivation come in;).

Research from US space agency NASA shows habits take only 30 days to create. So if you take 30 minutes a day for those 30 days you can transform your health and well being long-term as they will have become a habit!  Once a habit it’s more likely you’ll stick with it and you won’t be easily lured to every diet or fitness fad that comes along.

What about those bad habits that are so hard to break?  Try replacing old routines with new ones.  For example if you always eat lunch at your desk start taking a walk somewhere to eat your lunch.  This new pattern of moving your body may motivate you to  join a gym and sweat a little at lunch.  Try waking up 10 minutes earlier so you can pack your lunch rather than always buying it. This new pattern may lead you to perusing cookbooks and browsing the internet for recipe inspiration at dinner so you can pack the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Habits must be achievable, enjoyable and rewarding; and it starts with motivating your mind.  If you don’t take the time initially to create a mindset of where you want to be and what you want to achieve, it’ll be hard to decide what your new habits should be.  So take some time to think about your values, goals, what drives you and where you want to be in 30 days. Define your goals and write them down.  

Habits are easier to create and make stick when you are well rested.  So sleep. When you get enough zzz’s you are more energized, less stressed and your immune system is stronger. Consistent sleep patterns stabilize hormones so you’ll also find it easier to lose weight.  

What can you do in 30 minutes a day (for a month) to create life long wellness habits ? Here are some ideas to get you started (and if you are a newbie they are in order of importance):

1. Go through your pantry and refrigerator to get rid of less than healthy, stale, out of date foods.  This does not mean you deprived yourself (a sure way to fail in creating a habit), rather for 30 days commit to make certain foods (i.e. cookies, ice cream, processed foods, refined carbs) a treat rather than a daily occurrence.  When the craving hits, buy 1 serving and eat it at the source where you are purchasing.

2. Once a week, plan what you want to eat and items needed to stock your pantry/refrigerator ( last week’s  blog post was all about stocking your whole foods pantry) .  Browse your favorite cookbooks, peruse the internet and magazines, and of course subscribe to The Whole Meal which is a streamlined aid in meal preparation and recipe inspiration.

3. Once or twice a week, go shopping with a list for those healthy foods rather than rushing last minute into the grocery and picking up in a panic too many convenience foods because you are behind the eight ball (or worse hungry which encourages impulsive buying).

4. Prepare your food!  Since you have completed ideas 1-3 this should be effortless and fun.

5. Move your body!  If this is new to you, start with a manageable activity that you find fun. Or just add more walking into your daily life- at lunch, around the block, park at the back of parking lots when running errands, walk to an errand.  Once your body is used to movement, you will want to move on to more challenging or new activities.  Aim for at least 3xs per week once you reach this stage.

6. Chronicle your progress.  There is nothing like taking the time to write down what you have done in achieving goals/changing or creating habits.  Being able to visually see a list of your achievements is pretty impactful – record it all – big and small as it is all significant!

Now that you are ready to create new healthy habits for long-term wellness, I’ll leave you with this inspirational quote from Jim Rohn, popular teacher on success and happiness, “Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going”.

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