How to Create Healthy Habits that Stick
How to Create Healthy Habits That StickDid you know that our habits account for about 40% of our behaviors on any given day? In this episode, we talk about the topic of building healthy habits that support the life you want for yourself, and how to stick to them. We’re going to talk about taking control of our mindset, finding our WHY, implementing our healthy habits through planning, and task layering. This can be a tough topic because most of us have tried to adopt healthy habits and struggled. I’m going to be brutally honest, I’ve tried and failed so many times when sticking to healthy habits that I set for myself. You might think that that rules me out for being the expert on talking about this topic, but it’s actually the opposite. I actually LOVE talking about how to build healthy habits because, through all of my failures, I have learned some fundamental components to creating healthy habits and sticking to them that truly work, and today I want to share them with you so that you can achieve your goals and live a healthier life too. Through implementing these tips I’ve been able to create habits that support a healthy lifestyle. Habits like eating a healthy, sustainable diet, physically moving my body every day, creating a morning routine that allows me to set a good tone for the day, and obviously sticking to sustainable practices that I know are contributing positively to my health and the health of the planet.
What are healthy habits?Healthy habits for you could be anything that improves the quality of your mental, physical, or emotional health – contributing to your overall wellbeing. Maybe you want to stop doing something – like smoking or drinking or pick up a habit like consuming enough water every day. Healthy habits increase our longevity of life, improve our sleep and mood, and help to manage stress and other health issues. So you’re probably asking how do I get that – spill the beans!
Our thoughts control our worldWell, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that we are in control of our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Our thoughts and emotions create the world as we know it. When we realize that we can take power over our minds and the story’s we tell ourselves about why we can or cannot achieve something – that is our most powerful tool. Say for instance you want to start eating healthier, but the story you’re telling yourself is that you’re always too tired, or you don’t know how to cook, or you don’t have enough money or enough time. We know those stories are bogus. (Although I understand some people face challenges un-proportionately to others.) There are people out there that have faced the same challenges as you and have been able to overcome them.
Too tired? Eating healthier foods actually fuels you with more energy. Don’t know how to cook? There are a TON of resources out there that show you how to make healthy meals from 3 easy steps all the way to a gourmet meal. There is something out there for you if you look. Don’t have enough money? Have you broken down how much you’re spending now? Do you know how much it’s costing you to eat out? Or what the personal cost of your health is when you eat unhealthily? There are options for eating healthy on a budget. Don’t have enough time? You will find time for things that are important to you, which leads me to my next point.
What is your whyLet’s continue our example of eating healthier, ask yourself why is that important to you? Why do you want to eat healthier? You have to have your WHY rooted in something deeper in order for it to become a lasting habit. When you decide why you want what you want – you won’t drop the habit. It is ALL about mindset.
7 Levels Deep ExerciseI don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the 7 levels deep exercise before, but it is so neat. I learned about it from Dean Graziosi and I have done it so many times before and it is really eye-opening. So the premise is discovering your WHY based on 7 questions. There is actually a website that makes this super easy to write out, 7levelsdeep.com, but it’s easiest to have someone ask you these questions or have them written out and then answer them. So I’ll give you my example of why I want to eat healthier to kind of walk you through the experience, but you can apply this to any habit, or any goal you have in your life. The first question of 7 levels deep is “what do you want to do?” So I answered eat healthier. And the following 6 questions are “why is that important to you?” So for my second answer, I put it because I want to feel good. Why do I want to feel good? Because I don’t like how I feel when I don’t eat well. Why is feeling well important to me? I answered because I want to be able to live life to the fullest. Why is living life to the fullest important to me? Because I know time is my most valuable resource and I want to make the most of it. Why is making the most of it important? Because it includes spending quality time with my family, friends, and myself doing things that bring me joy and peace. Why is that important to me? Because I want to live a joyful, peaceful life. Ok now isn’t that amazing? I went from I want to eat healthier to my WHY being rooted in that I want to live a joyful, peaceful life. This is so true for me because I have always lived a life where I constantly feel on the edge, stressed, and anxious – so the idea of wanting to live a peaceful life at my core is insightful. Now that I have connected those two things and you better be dang sure that I’m going to eat healthier if it helps me to live a more joyful, peaceful life. And if you’re wondering – it has! It’s not an overnight thing, but it absolutely makes a difference. But the point is that now I know that if I’m not eating healthy like I want to, I am actively not contributing to the life I want to create for myself which is such a powerful motivator. Decide what you want out of life – truly. Maybe your healthy habit is treating yourself or your partner with more love and respect. Dig deeper there and find out why. What outcomes do you want out of your new habits? What life do you want to create? Write it down somewhere. Put it as the background of your phone. Root yourself in your WHY and don’t lose sight of it.
Combat negative self-talkHaving your WHY will also help to combat the negative self-talk that comes up. Like earlier when I gave the example of oh I don’t have enough time to eat healthier – you may be looking at that now and instead of saying I have the time to contribute to a better life for myself. Changing your language from negative to positive will be a game-changer. I’m not saying fall into toxic positivity, I want you to stay realistic and give yourself grace. You may still have struggles, but instead of saying I fail every time I try and giving up, you could say I’m doing the best with where I’m at now and I will keep trying. We want YOU to be on YOUR SIDE, right? Not fighting against yourself. You are your biggest cheerleader. Stay away from your inner critic and be your biggest fan. You’ve got this!
Implementing a planSo now that we have our mindset set up for success, let’s talk about how to actually implement your new healthy habits. Now that you have your WHY, it might be exciting to think about all of the habits you know would help you to achieve your larger goal in life – but you want to focus on one thing at a time – ditch the all or nothing approach because it is not sustainable in the long run. Set small goals for habit changes that will add up to larger ones. I mentioned I was able to implement multiple new healthy habits, and that was because I am building up one on top of another as I go – making sure I don’t get overwhelmed. Get comfortable with one new habit and then you can gradually start to implement more. When you’re wanting to implement a new habit you have to have a plan. And your plan will have to encompass the age-old questions, who, what, when, where, and you’ve already answered your WHY! So let’s stick to the eating healthier example. You might think WHO is obvious, you are silly. Who is who all might be involved? So say for instance you’re living with a partner, or family, or friends, eating healthier will be impacted by the people around you – you want to communicate that to them and maybe even see if they’re interested in going on the journey with you. At the very least you need to communicate your plan so that way they can have the opportunity to support you. My partner Will and I talk about how to share your new lifestyle changes with others in Episode 19 so you should definitely go back and give that a listen if you haven’t yet. When it comes to the question WHAT – you know you want to eat healthier, but what are your resources and limitations to that? Try to figure out what might be your limitations and plan for those. Prepare and create an environment to succeed. Do you usually eat as you’re rushing out of the door for work in the morning? Plan to prep meals ahead of time that are easy, but healthy options to grab in the morning. Or if your goal is to drink more water, set out a glass next to your coffee pot each night so that in the morning you remember to drink it before enjoying your coffee time. Being able to pinpoint what has been holding us back and finding ways around that in order to create a successful environment is crucial. The question of WHEN as it relates to eating healthier would likely be three times a day at your regular eating schedule. But say you have a different habit like moving your body more. WHEN could be a scheduled time every day, like walking for 10 minutes when you get up in the morning, or after a long day of work. No matter what your habit is, you need to plan it into your routines. Have you ever accomplished anything by haphazardly hoping it just happens or that you might remember to do it? I didn’t think so. Estimate how long it will take you to do to something so you can factor it into your routine to make sure you have enough time to accomplish it. Adjust accordingly as you move along. WHEN can also mean the duration that you’re trying to incorporate the habit for. Is it three times a day for 6 months? Is it every day for 10 minutes for the rest of the year? Just keep in mind that it can take anywhere from a few weeks up to a year for some people to adopt new habits that last. Consistency is key. We know that motivation can ebb and flow, but if you get anything out of this episode I want you to remember that consistency is what will allow you to ultimately succeed in your goals. Small actions practiced consistently every day lead to great progress over time – some of which you thought you never would achieve. WHERE is the last question. Eating healthier applies at home – but maybe you only want to eat healthier when you’re at work because they usually have snacks around and you tend to order fast food with your co-workers. If you’re thinking about moving your body, are you going to do it outside in your neighborhood, are you going to do yoga inside your house, or maybe you want to have a little 10-minute dance party with yourself every day in your bathroom. Visualizing the details helps you to make it happen.
Track your successNow you should think about how will you track your success? Studies show that tracking our progress helps us to realize our goals. Whether that is through a tracking app, or marking on a calendar every day you choose to participate in your healthy habit, or journaling how you feel and the progress you made – there are tons of ways to track your success so that you stay on course. I have an app that reminds me to take my vitamins every day, and it shows me how many days in a row I’ve taken it.
Make your task appealingYou also want to find ways to make your task appealing to you. I get that healthy habits are usually things we have put off for one reason or another. Maybe it doesn’t appeal to us at first or we feel like it is a difficult task so we stay away from it.
Task LayeringThere is a tip that completely changed the way I approach difficult tasks or habits, and it is task layering. Pairing a task you don’t like or are hesitant about with a task you enjoy. So it’s not multitasking, but using different channels of mental function that doesn’t require the same work. So say you really don’t want to prep meals at the beginning of the week so that you can eat healthier, but you love listening to podcasts. Try listening to your favorite podcasts only when you’re prepping food for the week so that that you rewire your brain to get excited about that task. You’re layering a manual and visual task with an auditory task. Another example for task layering might be while you’re out for your 10 minute walks you pair that with calling a friend or family member so you look forward to it. Maybe you’re even wanting to practice gratitude more so you plan to say that aloud each time you’re taking a shower. It seriously makes a huge difference to be able to task layer and start to enjoy the things you didn’t think you would at the beginning.
Use your sensesAnother way to make your habits more appealing is to use your other senses. Maybe that’s lighting your favorite candle while you’re practicing your healthy habit. Or playing around with making your healthy food more appealing visually with plating. Or if you’re wanting to get into a healthy sleep routine maybe you make your nightly wind-down something to look forward to by fluffing up your pillows and comforter, listening to calming music, and putting on your favorite lotion. I think you get the point – but there is something to be said about making our everyday routines and habits more enjoyable by using all of our senses – making them more appealing to us and therefore more enjoyable.
Create healthy habits If you are really struggling with making your healthy habits work for you, try enlisting an accountability partner to help you stay disciplined and on track. Find leaders who have achieved what you want for yourself so that way you can learn from them and be inspired. Talk to the people you admire and see what habits have brought them to the place they’re at, and maybe what their struggles were along the way so you can learn from them. And finally, if needed set up an appointment with your doctor or a counselor to help you with your individual goals. If you get to the end of this and are still unsure of what healthy habits you want to adopt, I’ll tell you what changed my life, and that was being more mindful. Mindfulness helped me to actively acknowledge the people and moments that make me feel more fulfilled. It also helped me to realize the thoughts and feelings of those around me, as well as the beauty of the planet, and that contribute positively to the world by my presence brought me joy. When you start to paint a picture about what brings you true joy, you’re able to use that as a guide to what you want in life and what habits you actually want to adopt that will get you there. And don’t forget that our health is intrinsically linked to the health of the planet. So when we choose to make healthy habits for ourselves, we are choosing to give back to the earth. Some ideas for healthy, sustainable habits to adopt could include producing less waste, eating locally grown food, growing food for yourself (link here), adopting the use of public transportation, starting a compost bin, conserving water, and finally meditating for mindfulness. Imagine each healthy habit you adopt to be the seeds of your life. Plant them, be patient, consistently nurturing them, and watch how you grow.
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