How To Form New, Healthy Habits

We're in the first full week of January, and many people are busy pursuing new habits - often with the goal of living a healthier life and losing weight. But what does it take to start something new and actually stick with it? To test your knowledge on how to make changes stick, take this quiz by Dr. Andrew Weil.

Think of the most basic habit, like brushing your teeth. We all do it (I hope! ;-) ). It is something we don't have to think about anymore. We just do it. Maybe we can think back on this simplest of habits and take some pointers for creating other habits, like exercising or eating healthier.

You probably picked up brushing your teeth at a fairly young age. You received help from your parents and maybe from older siblings. They knew that you were supposed to brush your teeth and assisted you with learning the task. It's the same with all new habits - find someone who can help you. Whether you want to learn how to play the piano, start a new exercise routine or eat healthier. Find someone who knows how to do it and has done it. In our modern-day world, this help can come in various shapes and forms, such as a personal trainer, a YouTube video, or an app. The other reason why this point is important is because we are more likely to do something if others are doing the same. When starting to brush your teeth, it probably made you feel included or grown when you saw your parents and older siblings brushing theirs. The same is true today. We are encouraged when we take fitness classes, for example, because we all struggle together through another set. We feel motivated when we participate in a group challenge, because we can help each other out and exchange ideas. This makes us feel good. So find others who have similar goals and work together.

Going back to our teeth brushing example. It was probably hard at first - moving a toothbrush around your mouth in a coordinated fashion can be tricky when you are still developing your motor skills. But over time, it got easier and easier. The same is true with other goals. Don't expect to drop weight over night, or master the piano in a month, or run a fast mile in a few weeks. It takes time, dedication and determination. It will be hard at first, you will stumble and fall, but the most important thing is to learn from those experiences and get back to it. Nobody is perfect, and perfection is not a sustainable goal to shoot for anyway, so embrace the journey and the process.

Last but not least, potentially there were some treats involved, as your parents tried to get you to pick up the habit of brushing your teeth. Rewards along the way are great tools to stick with something and feel good about what you are doing. So treat yourself at various intervals on your journey. Get a manicure after making it through one week of eating clean. Get a massage after two weeks of working out consistently. Go to the movies. You get the idea. Find a positive reward that will make this journey of creating new habits fun and enjoyable along the way.

If you would like my support in creating new and healthy habits for yourself, let me know. Let’s make this an awesome new year!