5 Secrets to Building Healthy Habits

There is no such thing as a perfect time to start healthy habits. Starting today is as good as any season, time, or day.  We know there is a great deal of information specific to creating healthy habits, however, our objective is to provide you with 6 tools (“habits”) to get you closer to reaching the bigger goal at hand. Remember, goals are achieved by the accumulation of healthy habits. Small habits compounded over time are the ones that lead to goal accomplishment. Before building your masterpiece, you must first learn how to use your paint, brushes, and canvas. The best habits are the ones intercorrelated, embedded, and connected to each other. Good habits are contagious for more good habits.

Write it down.

Immediately writing down the habit you are trying to maintain is mandatory. By not writing it down, procrastination has a wide open door. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, gathered a random sample in age, demographics, and gender of 267 people to participate in a study for writing down goals and their effectiveness. Half the group wrote down their goals compared to half who did not. Dr. Matthews concluded, those who wrote down their goals were 42% more likely  to achieve their written goals compared to those who didn’t. And yes, writing down your habit, is a habit in itself, so get to writing.

Make it attainable.

When starting a new habit, it is important to make sure it is attainable. Although there is no perfect scientific method for determining what is attainable for yourself, use research and common sense to articulate what would make it within reach. For example, deciding to create a habit of running 6 miles every day when you have never run more than 1 mile previously might be overkill. Start with running 1-2 miles, especially if you haven’t run in a long time. Unrealistic expectations are not only a guarantee for failure, but also counterproductive to solidifying a change to your routine. Blogger Ted Harro, from the Huff Post, explains by creating unattainable goals or habits, we allow failure to be acceptable and expected. One strategy to determine attainable goals is to start by working backwards from the big goal and set 3 checkpoints for habits that build towards that goal. Start with a short-term, mid-range, and finally a long-term goal. Keep them challenging, but still weighted in your favor for overall success. The most important thing you can do is be honest with your ability and resources, as well as unafraid to push yourself to new limits.

Stay simple and specific.

Specificity is key. For example, saying you want to bike a few days every week is a vague and flat approach. Instead, try saying you want to start biking for 5 miles, 3 times a week, over the next month. In this example, the goal may be biking 15 miles/week, but the habit is setting aside every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to bike 3 miles each session.

Ask for accountability.

Ask for help from positive influences who are able to check-in with you. Running 2 miles every morning is a lot different than having a running partner who meets up with you at 8am every day to run. It’s a lot easier to tell yourself you’ll run “tomorrow” versus, having to call up your running partner and say you won’t be able to make it for the morning workout. Part of accountability is checking in with your reference on a consistent basis. Relationships are best when shared with someone who makes you a better person. So, select someone such as a close friend, spouse, or mentor who can share in your intentions and help you stay in touch with those habits on a regular basis. Additionally, something as simple as a reminder on your phone to check in with that person could be all the difference for solidifying your habit.

Journal daily progress.

Days get busy, and similar to writing down your goals, making a routine of writing down your progress will help you keep track and stay focused. In this case, journaling your progress is the habit you want to maintain your goal. Self-awareness and reminders are key. Yale psychologist Paul Bloom told the New York Times, “With handwriting, the very act of putting it down forces you to focus on what’s important. Maybe it helps you think better.”

If journaling is not something feasible or efficient for tracking your daily progress, take advantage of technology and seek out an app that does help motivate you track your progress. Check out Active.com list of Best Health and Fitness Apps of 2017 and take an open approach to finding what works for you. The point is to check-in with your daily fitness habits every day - how you choose to check-in is less important. Not only is tracking perfect for progress updates, but you can learn to spice up your competitive energy by challenging others, and seeing what others are doing to push you on a regular basis.

If we’re being honest.

Habits are so much more than small tasks that sound good to say on first impression. They are the integral components of what help us become the person we want to be and a test of our true intention to reach those goals - no matter how small or grand they may be. Habits are opportunities to build and test character, because as we all know character is who you are when no one is looking. Often habits are things that can be “overlooked” by others. As Dalai Lama once said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” In our experience, the best habits are those built from the heart of intention to make it happen day in and day out. Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn new habits.

If you remember nothing else….

  • Habits are the compounded behaviors of what truly gets us to our goals. Rather than viewing habits as “chores”, view them as smaller victories that lead to the big picture.
  • Write. It. Down.
  • Choose a person who can keep you accountable on a regular basis.
  • Stay simple and specific for best success and attainability.
  • Journal and track your practice in whichever fashion motivates you to keep daily tabs.

As a team of people who love to adopt healthy habits, we are passionate about incorporating those habits into every aspect of our lives, especially nutrition. The best nutrition is when your body is constantly fed and provided essential nutrients to help with activity, recovery, and injury prevention. We believe in a MODe lifestyle, which is making a habit of kicking butt in whatever our journey each of us may be on.

Resources:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm

https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/17-best-health-and-fitness-apps-of-2017/slide-5

https://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/study-highlights-strategies-for-achieving-goals

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-set-goals_b_1975286.html

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