4 STEPS TO TRANSFORM YOUR HEALTH HABITS FOR THE BETTER

Being aware of what you need for a healthier life is just the beginning. Take action with these 4 steps to make your new habits the norm.


BY: LINDSEY KANE, MS, RD, LDN

From more daily movement to eating more greens, you’ve identified healthy habits that you need to integrate into your life to support a healthier body.

Now comes the hard part: activating these habits.  

Forming new habits can be just as hard as breaking old ones, but the good news is that there’s a method to the madness.  Here are a few trusty habit hacks to help get you started:

1. Downsizing

Focus on one habit at a time, and break it down into into the smallest, easiest action imaginable.  Mentally, this will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and intimidated from trying to change too much all at once.  It will also reframe the habit into a task so simple it would be ridiculous not to follow through.  For example, if your goal is to drink 10 glasses of water in a day, rephrase the habit: “drink half a glass of water per hour”.

2. Pairing

Piggyback on pre-existing routines that are already embedded into your daily routine, such as taking a shower, brushing your teeth, receiving a text message, eating a meal, or the sun setting.  Use these routines as the cue to trigger your new desired behavior.  For example,when you make a morning pot of coffee, let this be the cue to drink a glass of water.  Rather than relying on sheer memory and good intentions to prompt your new habit, “pairing”  delegates the responsibility out, letting your environment and your preexisting routines serve as a built in reminder.

3. Scheduling

When a task is on the schedule, suddenly it becomes a priority, encouraging us to manage our time around it.  It also serves as a reminder and holds us accountable for following through.  Try setting an hourly event on your calendar to remind you to take a brief walk and grab a drink of water, or adding your weekly workouts to your calendar.  

4. Reconstructing

Make the healthier choice the most convenient choice by reconstructing your environment.  Remove or relocate cues that trigger old habits, and replace them with cues and tools that support your new habits.  Give your pantry a makeover: place healthier choices at eye level, and store junk food on the top shelf out of arm’s reach. Pack your gym bag the night before a workout so that come morning, there are no excuses.  Make the new action you’re trying to incorporate into your routine too easy to resist.

Once you’ve moved through these 4 steps, take a look back at just how far you’ve come.

Celebrate your progress, recognize everything you’ve accomplished, and take notice of how great these new healthy habits make you feel.  Positive reinforcement is the magic sauce for closing the “habit loop” and making it stick long term, so be sure to take time to truly embrace the rewards of your new habit.

After all, it’s the journey that counts, not the destination!

Adapted from the original article.
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Lindsey Kane, MS, RD, LDN is a San Francisco-based Registered Dietitian helping others live a stress-free, balanced, and thriving life. By getting to know her clients inside and out, Lindsey identifies the opportunities within their everyday lifestyle to integrate subtle changes that create lasting, impactful results. Learn more at Bite For Change!

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