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How to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes That Last

Written by Ali Donahue
How to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes That Last

Quick Synopsis

No way around it making healthy lifestyle changes that last is hard. Whether you want to start eating healthier, exercise more, or watch less television these 6 steps will set you up for success.

The Full Story

Do you keep trying to get healthy, only to slip after just a few weeks or even days? You’re not alone. Change is hard.

It’s not willpower that’s tripping you up. You’ve probably got willpower in spades (even if your negative self-talk tells you otherwise). Creating healthy lifestyle changes is a process and the best way to work your way through it is to have a plan in place.

You can break the cycle of unhealthy habits and change your lifestyle with these 6 proven tips for making healthy habits stick.

1. Find Your Why

Here’s the thing, willpower is only one piece of the lasting change puzzle. When it comes to making positive changes in your life what you really need is a big enough reason to change — this is your why.

Identify your why it’s important if you want to make lifestyle changes that stick. A good way to do figure this out? Complete the following exercise:

I want to feel/or have _________________.

So that/or because  __________________.

Want to eat better so you can have the energy you need to enjoy time with family and live a longer life? That’s a great and important reason to change your dietary habits.

Pro tip: don’t let others set your goals. If it doesn’t come from your own desire to change you set yourself up for failure.

2. Match your environment to your goal

Again, push willpower aside. Much more powerful than willpower when it comes to lasting change? Your environment! Match your surroundings to your goal if you want to see results.

Trying to eat more plant-based foods? Keep your pantry stocked with healthy choices, instead of junk food. In fact, try to limit your exposure to foods you're trying to avoid as much as possible.

Want to quit watching so much TV? Cancel your cable or Netflix subscription or relocate your television to less convenient room in your house.

3. Identify the patterns that trip you up

Chances are this isn’t the first time you’ve tried to change something in your life. And past failures aren’t proof that you’re incapable of change. They’re proof you’re falling into the same patterns that trip you up, over and over again.

To identify the patterns getting in your way, complete the following exercise:

  • Take a piece of paper and number it 1-10 on the lefthand side.
  • Write down ten memories, one for each number, of a time you tried to make a change and it didn’t last.
  • Read through your ten memories and see if you notice similarities or patterns in any of the times you failed to reach your goal.
  • Then ask yourself if you’re willing to let that pattern go.

To really change, you need to be willing to let go of some of your beliefs about change and the way you always do things. Are you ready to let go?

4. Focus on one day at a time

It can take up to 66 days for new habits to form. If this stresses you out, take a deep breath and remind yourself that change takes time and that’s OK. You are not a failure because something isn't happening overnight. Change rarely ever happens quickly. Understanding this concept is important if you want to make a long-term lifestyle change (and not drive yourself crazy in the process).

Instead of worrying about how you’re going to get through the transitional period before your goal becomes your lifestyle, focus on how you’re going to work towards your goal today. Incrementalism, friend. One day a time.

5. Cut yourself some slack

Life sometimes gets in the way of even our best intentions. You don’t have to abandon ship when you slip up. Just the opposite, actually. Cut the negative self-talk and put your mistake in the past and then look forward. At MamaSezz, we constantly remind each other - it’s about progress, not perfection.

6. Find a support network

Don’t go at it alone! Social support not only helps with accountability, but it also provides some much-needed camaraderie. Having others relate to your trials and tribulations will help you offload some of the anxiety that comes with any lifestyle change. A positive support network can also be a powerful source of inspiration to help you keep going -- nothing like a good transformation story to light a fire under your bum.  Also, we invite you to join our private Facebook Group called the Heart Beet Club

Ready to create healthy lasting lifestyle changes?

Set yourself up for success by following these 6 simple steps:

  1. Find your why - A real reason for the change is a great motivator.

  2. Match your environment to your goal - Clear out the junk food if you want to eat healthier.

  3. Identify the patterns tripping you up - Look over your past failures to see if you can locate any patterns and then nip them in the bud.

  4. Focus on one day at a time - Rome wasn’t built in a day and you’re not going to change overnight. Accept that and just focus on today!

  5. Cut yourself some slack - No one is perfect and one bad day ain’t no thang.

  6. Get support - Whether in-person or online, change is a heck of a lot easier if you have a network in place.

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