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Stephanie Blair, Holistic Nutritionist
I know first-hand how difficult it can be to begin building habits that are going to be better for you in the long-run and keeping it consistent. My health and diet have fluctuated over the years and by doing certain things, it has helped me keep more on track. Saying that, I want to share with you tips on how you can build positive sustainable habits for your health over the long-term!
Make a plan.
Planning is one of the most important steps because it’s what’s going to set you up for success. You want to make a plan that includes small, reasonable goals and specific actions that you will take moving forward. Think about how you can change things to support your goals – for instance, stocking up on healthy foods and removing temptations. Research also shows that people’s eating habits tend to mirror those of their family and friends. A great way to stick to your goals is by doing this with someone where you can both keep each other accountable. Planning for obstacles is also very important! Think about what situations may derail your efforts to live healthier and ask yourself how you can still make healthy choices during stressful times, or when tempted by old habits?
Keep a journal.
If you’re struggling to stay on track, keeping a journal or mobile app to note things down like your diet, exercise, stress levels, or sleep patterns can be helpful. Even if you’re feeling like you’re “falling off the wagon,” continue to track how you’re feeling and any changes you’ve made. These are the occasions when you can learn the most about a situation or yourself. This is also a good chance to evaluate situations where you feel the most stressed and find ways to help deal with that stress. For instance, I lean towards hot yoga, or going for long walks to clear my mind.
Keep eyes on the prize.
One thing my personal trainer always tells me when I feel like I’m struggling with my health goals is to think about the future and what I want for myself. The journey can be very overwhelming and sometimes we can feel like we’re not making any progress, when in fact we are. But our mindset is the most important thing here and knowing that it won’t be perfect is a better way to look at it instead of stressing about the small things and expecting to always give it 100%. Small improvements in your nutrition and physical activity can reduce your health risks and lengthen your life.
Be patient with yourself.
Sometimes when we are trying to create healthier habits to better our health and lifestyle, hurdles that can get in the way could be mental health factors such as anxiety and depression, which can be tied to unhealthy behaviours. A health professional and even a therapist can work with you to address any underlying issues to make these changes feel easier. Often when someone thinks of living healthier they default to improving their diet, but improving your mental health is another key factor here for overall wellness. So, even though creating healthier habits in and out of the kitchen is important, taking the steps to improve our mental health is also key.
All of this is of course easier said than done, but if you’re willing and trying to make change, then that’s all that matters. It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf!