It’s easy to get stuck in a rut as far as habits change. Many times we come into the new year with gusto, determined to make over our lives to be healthier, thinner, and less stressed. Often though, somewhere between the end of January and the beginning of February, our determination begins to wane. Maybe we get sick, or go on vacation, or have a big project at work that demands more of our attention. Lasting behavior change is all about making slow and steady progress. Try these tips to start turning the needle towards habits that help you feel your best:
- Add before you subtract. Before you start cutting out carbs, caffeine, and sugar, consider adding a full cup of vegetables at every meal, a big cup of water right when you wake up and between each meal, and making sure you get enough protein and healthy fats with your meals. You can begin to ‘crowd out’ the bad habits by adding habits that will help you stick to making the cutbacks you want to make.
- Start to pay really close attention to your current habits, just as they are. Notice where you could add some healthy habits. Go to work everyday? Park your car a few blocks away, or get off a few stops before your stop and walk the rest of the way. Too cold? Walk up the stairs every time you get up from your desk. If you sit down on the couch every evening, before letting go into the couch, sit almost down and press yourself back up – do 5 to 10 squats before you finally settle in.
- Add Breath. Create more space everywhere in your life by adding a breath before every bite you take, every text you send, every meeting you walk into. Taking a moment to take a full breath brings you back into the present, settles your nervous system, and fuels your body with the oxygen it needs to have energy.
- Make a Schedule. Write down the small changes you are planning to make in your day, and notice how they make you feel. Are you trying to do too much, too fast? It is very energizing to begin to do what you commit to – and that creates momentum for more change. It is better to start with just a couple small changes and add to them as you make progress and feel the effects.
- Celebrate. Be your own cheerleader. When you do what you commit to for the day or a week, celebrate yourself! Turn on some music and dance, make plans to get together with friends and go walking, dancing, or out into nature. Celebrating makes the journey so much more fun. Be sure that your celebration doesn’t throw you off your path, (margaritas and nachos are not recommended for this type of celebration.) Make a list of little and big things you love to do but don’t make time for. Then begin to cross things off that list as you indulge.
Behavior change doesn’t have to be painful and it is absolutely possible. With the right tools and mindset, you can make any changes in your life that feel important to you.
Kalia Kelmenson, Certified Wellness Coach :: mauimindandbody.com