We are what we do every day — therefore, health must be a habit. Whether it's quitting smoking, going on runs, or just cutting out sugary drinks: optimal health benefits appear only if you do these things habitually.
It can be tough to stick to healthy habits, especially when you're just starting. But with a little bit of effort and some helpful tips, you can set yourself up for success!
This blog post discusses some tips for building and maintaining healthy habits. If you're ready to make a change for the better, read on!
How Habits Are Formed
Before we get into the tips, it's essential to understand how habits are formed. Habits are routines or behaviors that we perform regularly. They can be positive (e.g., healthy eating habits) or negative (e.g., smoking).
The key to forming healthy habits is to make them as automatic as possible. This means repeating the desired behavior over and over until it becomes second nature.
Three main factors influence habit formation:
- Cue:refers to something that triggers the behavior, such as seeing a fast food restaurant when you're hungry.
- Routine: the actual behavior itself, such as eating junk food.
- Reward: what you gain from completing the routine, such as feeling full or satisfied.
To effectively use this model and form healthy habits, you'll need to do a few things:
- Identify the cue that triggers your bad behavior.This can be anything from seeing an advertisement for junk food on television to being tired after work. Once you've identified it, change it by doing something different when the cue happens (e.g., turning off the TV).
- Ensure there is a rewardassociated with completing your healthy routine instead of indulging in unhealthy behaviors (e.g., go for a walk instead of eating fast food and enjoy how good it feels afterward).
These tips should get you started, but let's go a bit deeper into some best practices.
How To Get Started With Healthy Habits
Start small so that you don't overwhelm yourself. You can’t build a healthy lifestyle overnight! Choose habits that are easy to do and fit into your existing routines (e.g., walk for 30 minutes each day instead of going on a long run).
If you try to make too many changes at once, you'll likely find it challenging to stick with them. So start by making a list of habits you would like to adopt, and then pick one or two to focus on initially.
Once you have those down pat, add a couple more habits to your list. This gradual approach will make it easier to form new habits. Eventually, they will become second nature.
Ensure there is a reward associated with completing your healthy routine, such as feeling good about yourself or getting more energy from eating healthy foods. This will help you stick with it long-term rather than just giving up after one week because it isn't fun anymore!
For example, you can find healthy food alternatives (e.g., healthy snacks) rather than going cold turkey. Limiting yourself to only eating fruits and vegetables all day long could make you unhappy, and isn’t that counterproductive?
Pro tip:When choosing healthy foods, go for high fiber ones such as whole grains and legumes instead of refined carbs like white bread or pasta. These will fill you up faster while providing more nutrients per calorie.
Track your progress so that you can see how far you’ve come. You can keep a journal, use an app, or record voice notes. Try taking photos or videos of your journey so you can watch them back later — it's a great source of motivation!
Another important tip for building habits is to find a support group or buddy system. When you have someone else rooting for you, staying motivated and on track is much easier. And if you're struggling, they can help get you back on course!
Practically, this can be as simple as a group chat, Slack channel, or email chain. You can also use apps like HabitShare to help.
How To Maintain Healthy Habits
For many people, it's easy to start a new habit — it's keeping it up that's the problem. Here are some tips to help:
Make a plan for what you'll do if your habit is interrupted by an event — like work travel or being sick.
For example, if you usually go for a run daily but are unable to due to traveling, try fitting in a run on another day during the week. And if you get sick and cannot stick with your regular routine, there's no need to feel guilty — just pick up where you left off when healthy again.
It's important to remember that healthy habits are something we need every day, not just once a week or month. Try setting realistic goals like "I'll eat more fruit this week than last" instead of saying something like "I won't have any junk food at all." This way, it’s easier to add the habit into your lifestyle.
Often, we pursue habits because of the expectations from people around us. The problem here is that your motivation is external, not internal. Since you're not personally invested in your success with this goal, you're unlikely to maintain it.
However, if your motivation is intrinsic, you're far more likely to stick to it. When setting your goals, prioritize the habits most interesting or exciting to you.
Habits to Live a Healthy Life
- Take the stairs instead of the elevatorwhen possible (if you're healthy enough to do so).
- Walk or bike instead of driving your car whenever safe and feasible.
- Drink water throughout the day, especially before meals. This will help keep you hydrated and curb your appetite!
- Eat healthy foods like fruits, nuts, and vegetables. These are high in fiber and healthy fats.
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast.If your first meal of the day is healthy, it will put you in the right mindset for the rest of the day.
- Limit the number of processed and unhealthy foods you eat.Avoid red and processed meats, sugar, and excess sodium.
- Find healthy alternatives to your favorite unhealthy foods.Eating healthier doesn't have to be painful!
- Use SPF lotion or sunscreen daily.Especially during sunny times of the year, SPF can mitigate your risk of skin cancer in the future.
- Get 30 minutes of daily physical activity.Here, we're talking about strength and mobility training specifically. It can lead to healthy weight gain and more muscle mass.
- Go for weekly jogs or runs. Cardiovascular exercise will help lower blood pressure, strengthen your heart, and lower your risk of heart disease.
- Sleep and wake up at designated times. An irregular sleep schedule will throw off your circadian rhythms and reduce sleep quality.
- Keep track of your emotional well-being.This can take many forms: journaling, daily voice notes, weekly therapy. Whatever form it takes, keeping track of your mental wellness is an essential habit.
- Meditate daily.Mindfulness can be as simple as a 5-minute check-in every morning. Being present can help reduce stress and make you happier.
- Limit your daily screen time.Set up alerts on your device to reduce how much time you spend working or browsing social media.
The Benefits of Having Healthy Habits
A healthier life goes beyond just eating the right foods and waking up for runs. The right mix of habits:
- Reduces our risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
- Battles sleep deprivation and give us more energy throughout the day.
- Preserves our mental health and wellness so we can live life to the fullest.
A healthier lifestyle is closer than you think — you just need the proper habits to start!
Want some help? Mantra Foods offers a wide variety of healthy foods and supplements to boost your overall well-being. View our selection today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it so hard to maintain healthy habits?
There can be many reasons why it's tough for people to stick with healthy habits. Life circumstances like work travel or being sick can get in the way, and temptations to break our healthy routines are always present.
The goals we set for habits are often too much, too soon. We can avoid this by setting realistic goals from the jump.
How can I make healthy eating a habit?
Replace your unhealthy meals and snacks with healthier alternatives. You can start small, like replacing an ingredient here and there. Make the changes gradually, so they're easier to maintain.
Can healthy habits help me lose weight?
Yes! Healthy habits can help us lose weight and maintain a healthy weight over time. This is because healthy habits involve making healthier food choices and being more active, both of which help achieve the right metabolic rate and caloric intake.