Switching to a healthy lifestyle is difficult for some women. The process takes time and commitment. You will likely face obstacles and temptations. There may be moments where the allure of doing something unhealthy becomes overpowering. It is in those moments that you must be prepared.
It’s also important to remember that even if you fail, you can always start again. Many people find themselves taking two steps back before they can move three steps forward. It is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.
The good news is that this is something that many women have done before. There is information available to help you give yourself the best chance of success with few or no failures. What can you do to form healthy habits and make them stick?
Evaluate Your Current Habits to Decide What Needs to Change
You should sit down and think about your daily habits. Adding healthy habits is a great idea, but you may be counteracting your efforts with existing bad ones. If you don’t take inventory now, then you may not notice areas that could use improvement.
To do this, start by thinking about your day from the moment you wake up until you go to bed at night. What do you typically do? What do you eat? Are there opportunities for better choices?
For example, you could walk up the stairs at work rather than taking the elevator to get more physical activity in. Maybe you could stand up while using the computer or phone instead of sitting on the couch.
Most of us have at least a few areas where we could make more health-conscious choices in our lives. Find those blind spots and replace them with better alternatives.
Identify Your Triggers and Have a Plan to Handle Them
Even the most determined people will come across triggers. These are things that could make you revert to bad habits. They aren’t always obvious, especially if you aren’t paying attention.
It’s easy to fall back into buying fast food for dinner after a hectic day instead of going home and making something nutritious. And even if that wasn’t your original intention, you may suddenly crave it and reward that craving because you drove by and saw the restaurant sign.
Triggers typically start with a cue that causes a craving. Timing is a common cue. For example, most people wake up and immediately need to use the bathroom or want to brush their teeth. It is a habit that they have formed over years. The fact that it is morning serves as the cue for the trigger.
Other things, including people, can be cues as well. A New England Journal of Medicine study revealed that if someone has a friend who is obese, then the risk of also becoming obese increases by 57%. That remains the case even if the friend lives far away. People tend to pick up the habits of those in their social circle.
Another area this can be a problem is alcohol consumption and smoking. Someone might not be a heavy drinker or smoker but might feel inclined to drink or smoke when they hang out with others who do.
The takeaway here is to try to surround yourself with people who are good influences that practice healthy habits. And if you have friends who are not always the best influence, be prepared to avoid triggers.
Write Out a Plan that Includes Goals and a Backup
Planning goes a long way when you set goals or want to make changes. Write out a plan for your lifestyle change. This should outline the changes you plan to make and when you will make them.
You should also list goals like weight loss or stopping smoking. Anything that you would like to achieve in the long or short term should be spelled out.
Finally, make sure your plan includes backup options. These should be alternatives to bad habits that you can turn to when you feel temptation. It should also include instructions for starting again in case you find yourself falling back into old ways.
Keep this plan accessible. If you carry a smartphone, it can help to save it there or as a document on the cloud so you can review it anytime you need to do so.
Be OK with Doing a Little at a Time to Make Progress
Some people get very ambitious about their habit changes. It’s great to want to make sweeping improvements, but keep in mind that this may be too much at once. You need to be realistic about what you do and how long it will take to form good habits.
It’s ok to do a little at a time. You can list out everything that you would like to eventually change but choose one to three to begin. The number of habits you start with may vary depending on how significant they are.
It is better to be successful taking a few small steps rather than continue to fail trying to do it all at once. After you have turned your initial changes into solid habits, you can move on to the next items on your list.
Make Sure You Have Everything You Need Available
You should do what you can to make it easy to follow through. One way to do that is to always have the supplies you need available. If you are focusing on weight loss, then this will likely mean having a menu ready with ingredients available or preparing meals in advance.
If you’re going to chew gum instead of smoke, make sure you always have gum ready. Or if you want to add more outdoor activities to your day, keep a pair of tennis shoes and a change of clothes in your car all the time.
Think about anything that you will need to follow through with a good habit and make sure it is ready to go.
Track Progress so You Can See How Far You Have Come
Success is a strong source of motivation. Seeing what you have accomplished will help you stay committed. The only way to do that is to track your progress.
Habit tracking apps are available for smartphones. You can also use a basic text document or write it out by hand. The method you choose isn’t important. What is important is that you continue to monitor progress and mark your milestones.
This is a good resource to turn to anytime you feel your commitment waver. Remember what you have achieved and how good it will feel to overcome the next challenge.
Show Yourself Love, Kindness, and Understanding
Changing habits takes time. You will have moments of weakness. And sometimes you may give in to that weakness. Remember to show yourself kindness and understanding as you work toward a healthier lifestyle.
Failure can cause frustration and lower self-esteem. Remember that you are worth the effort and that your life will be better if you stick to it. You can do it, even if it takes several tries.
Forming good habits is a process that should involve your doctor. You should visit a medical professional to discuss your plans or to get advice about how to safely make health-related changes.
Complete Women’s Healthcare is available to help you on your journey to a better life. Contact us today to schedule a wellness consultation.