How To Make Healthy Habits Stick … For Good!
GUEST POST BY NATALIA CHOUKLINA.
These are no ordinary times that we live in. I think it goes without saying that we have access to more information than ever about wellness, health and vitality. With the click of a few buttons we can find information about anything! The options that are presented to us are infinite and that itself breeds confusion. It seems that the main question for our generation is not what to do but how to make it last.
Most of us have a basic understanding about what needs to be done to have a better quality of life or a healthier body; however, it seems that knowing what’s good is not always enough to inspire any tangible changes. Attempting something new is good but getting it to become a lifelong habit is a whole different ball game.
A few months ago I watched a documentary called Hungry for Change, in which the producers noticed the same phenomenon. Most of us are highly intelligent people with good intentions, and we inflict damage upon ourselves knowingly. So why do we do it? Why do we revert to old bad habits so fast?
It happens to me all the time. A while ago I made a decision to become a raw foodist. I got all the gear, food and books. I educated myself about all the latest and greatest on the topic. I hit the ground running with lots of gusto but after a few weeks my commitment started to shake because I got too busy and got fed up with the routine. It was just too much too fast. It was an epic fail.
Perhaps there is a better way to instill change? I spoke to a few friends who made a successful transition to a more balanced and holistic lifestyle. I also thought about a few successful lifestyle changes I made and how I did it. So what’s the secret here?
Based on my own experience and years of observation, these are tried and tested ways that helped me adopt new habits and make them stick for along time:
Don’t subtract – add: This was an instrumental shift in my thinking. David Wolfe, a health expert and a spokesperson for super foods, said that the reason all diets, regardless of their nature, fail is because they are focused on subtracting and reducing food intake. As soon as you decide that you can’t have something, all you’ll think about is the very thing you just prohibited yourself to think about. It’s the whole ‘don’t think about pink elephant’ concept again. It’s just how we are wired. So instead of saying “I’m not going to eat bacon anymore because it’s bad….”, I found that saying “I will eat more of kale because it’s good” a lot more helpful and inspiring.
Easy does it: One issue I have with making positive changes is that I want everything and I want it now. Once I decided that raw food was for me, I went full out. Eventually I had to stop eating raw altogether because it was too much work, I got sick of the food and I got so weak that I had to hold on to walls to stand up. I jumped into it too fast and my body and my lifestyle couldn’t handle it. I once read an article about a woman who took 13 years to become 90% raw. She started with a few very simple changes she could sustain and added gradually. Something tells me that her commitment to raw foodism runs a lot deeper than mine.
I don’t need to look very far for proof that this strategy works. My best friend Masha made a commitment to better health a few years ago. She committed to a few simple modifications at a time to test them out and added more as she felt comfortable. She started with reducing her bread intake five years ago and today she’s dairy-free, gluten-free and growing her own organic vegetables. At no point did she look hungry or stressed out about food.
So, the moral of this story is to pick one or two changes you can realistically manage and stick with them. Consistency is key here. People who commit to eating a salad every day for one month will realise more long-term benefits than people who eat very well for one week and then to eat crap for the remainder of the month. Believe me, making a commitment to have one fresh green juice a day and sticking with it for six month benefited me more long-term than any weekly super cleanse I’ve ever done.
Good things take time: Like anything else good in life, good changes take time to manifest dramatic results. You have to be patient to allow yourself to adjust to a new habit. If you practiced something for 30 years, it will take some time to rewire your brain for a new pattern. You may even feel worse for a bit. When Masha and I started to juice we noticed our skin got worse for a few months. Juicing promised us a healthy glow, rosy complexion and a svelte figure. Instead we were covered in zits! What the hell? However, we stuck with it and got to enjoy all the promised benefits eventually. Again, consistency was key.
Create a support posse: Kris Carr, my hero, is a strong believer in surrounding yourself with like-minded people for encouragement. She calls them a health posse. In Russia we say that one head is good but two is better. We are truly stronger together. Getting your friends, family members and partners on board with the changes will make the transition so much easier. You can support each other; you can keep each other honest; rejoice in the victories and bounce ideas off each other. It’s okay to whine, but only sometimes. Kidding! In all seriousness, making changes, no matter the magnitude, is hard. Having great people around you is key to an easier and long-lasting transition.
I’m sure there are many other things you could do; however, this approach worked miracles for me over the years. Perhaps it’s basic and not very dramatic; however, it delivered for me and many other people.
I’m here if you have any questions. How do you guys make any changes stick?
Author Bio: Natalia is a transformational life coach, health food lover and an avid yoga practitioner. Her commitment is to help all her clients create an exceptional life full of vitality, happiness and laughter. You can catch up with Natalia on her educational and inspiring blog in which she shares many insights and interesting stories based on her own journey to create a life worth writing about.
Positive affirmation for the day: I am happy and healthy.
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