There’s no time better than now to make a change.
No matter what day of the year, you have the power to change – you don’t need to wait for the first of the month or year.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, sleep more, gain muscle, or overall just feel better, the opportunity can be intimidating if it’s something you’ve been waiting to tackle for a while. Try these 6 tips to kick things off.
6 Tips to Build a Habit For Your Health and Fitness Goals
1. Make an Activity-Based Goal
Having goals is a great thing! But is having a goal enough to get you to the goal? Chances are that you’ll need some additional strategy. SportPsychologyToday.com touched on the topic well here:
“The more crystal clear your outcome goal is the more likely you are to succeed. But you also need to know the action steps required to get you there. What are the key processes that when performed consistently will lead you to your destination. Think of it like this. If you were to embark on a journey, you would first need to decide exactly where you want to go (outcome goal). Next, you would need to determine how you’re going to get there (process goal). If you focus only on your end destination without considering your mode of transport, it’s likely that time will pass and you’ll still be in the exact same place. If you focus only on your mode of transport without being clear on your end destination it’s likely that you’ll expend a lot of unnecessary energy and not even like where you’ve ended up. To eliminate these issues it’s important to know both your end destination and the appropriate mode of transport required to get there. You then want to include quick check-ins along the way to make sure you’re still heading in right direction.”
For a simple app that lets you focus on tracking and doing (only 5!) activity-based goals, check out the Perfct Day app.
2. Focus efforts on Making it a Habit (vs. relying on motivation)
Once you’ve decided on your activity-based goals above, consider what it takes to make it a habit.
Motivation is described as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something,” but the truth is that motivation will only take you so far – how many times has a late night at the office thwarted your post-work gym session?
What will it take to keep new approaches to eating and fitness in your life and making them a part of your everyday life? Habit. To develop a habit means new behaviors become automatic – instinctual.
Stanford Persuasive Technology lab’s BJ Fogg, a renowned research psychologist studying human behavior, focuses on two main building blocks when it comes to habit creation, via his Tiny Habits work:
Find something you’re already doing and build on it to form a new habit. It’s a “When + after” approach.
- Why it works: The already established habit will trigger your new one and be easier to adopt because it’s hinged to something you’re already doing.
- Example: Your goal is to eat more fruit.
- In action: Every night, you set your alarm clock for the next morning. To activate your new habit, consider adding some fruit (a banana, apple, orange) to where your bag or car keys are sitting, after you’ve set your alarm clock. Then you can just take it with you when you leave the house in the morning.
Habit formation is what will sustain you after motivation has left. If you make it a habit to take an hour to shop for healthy groceries, say, every Sunday night, you won’t find yourself with an empty fridge midweek – you’ve set yourself up for success by being powered by a habit.
3. Set Small, Realistic Outcomes and Benchmark Along the Way
Tackling anything new can be daunting. While you’ve set your activity-based goals and decided on an outcome you want to achieve of, for example, “Lose 25 lbs.,” consider working to achieve this outcome in small increments and having milestone victories along the way. What about “lose 4 lbs.”? Once you reach that goal, create another.
Regularly achieving your goals can be fulfilling and could make your (and future) goals seem more possible.
4. Build a Support System
Hitting your goals can be easier when there is an invested or even shared interest from your loved ones and friends. Someone to keep you accountable, to share your victories with as they happen, and to be your cheerleader when the path isn’t as easy can be a key piece of what keeps you on track.
There are a number of ways your friends and family can help – don’t be afraid to ask! You could consider joining MeetUp groups or dedicated Facebook communities that focus on support and sharing learning lessons and victories.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things (or tools!)
You’ve probably heard of a number of new ways more people are hacking their health, from wearing a simple step counter or activity tracking device, to downloading a nutrition or calorie-counting on their smartphone.
The deluge of digital solutions may seem daunting, but there’s reason to believe that these self-professed Quants have the right idea – for example, a 2007 study from Stanford’s School of Medicine found that people who used pedometers added an average of one mile of walking each day.
Health has never been as fun, social or accessible as it is today. Apps like Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter can help you turn your health mission into a game.
6. Have Patience & Fun
How WellnessFX Can Help
Your biochemistry is the most accurate way to understand how your health and performance is affected by your nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle.
Testing and retesting is key to staying on track because your blood cells regenerate every 120 days. Where you were 120 days ago may not necessarily be where you are today, for better or worse. In order to have an accurate picture of where your total health is, we recommend a re-assessment every 120 days.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.