Most people dream of leading a healthy lifestyle and being fit, active, and free of health ailments. They want to be as healthy as possible, and while they may have some idea of how to make that happen, they aren’t sure of how to implement this knowledge within their daily routine.
If you struggle with this, you aren't alone. Most people have a general idea of how to make healthy choices, but when it comes time to actually to make them, they fail. It's not that they aren't motivated or that they don't care about their health. It's that they aren't sure how to go from point A to point B to make healthy living a part of their day-to-day life.
The key is to create a healthy lifestyle by forming habits. Building positive habits enables you to put healthy living on autopilot once you get used to it. At first, it requires some effort, but in the long run, it just becomes who you are – a healthy person living a healthy life every day.
Where Do You Begin Building Healthy Habits?
The first few weeks and months of creating a healthy lifestyle are definitely the toughest. The good news is that this is also the time you have the most motivation. Starting with a bit of exercise and a gradual reduction in bad habits will bring the most results. This includes eating healthy foods and incorporating physical activity into your routine, but also things like reducing stress and getting a good night’s sleep.
The real challenge comes when the newness and excitement wear off, but if you've already established healthy living as a habit and part of your daily routine, you won't fall off course once the initial enthusiasm passes. Having an established pattern when it comes to your sleep schedule, food regimen, as well as exercise will produce a steady improvement in energy levels, along with other noticeable benefits. The changes you see will all depend on your personal circumstances, but they'll absolutely be there!
Start with a plan and be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits, and celebrating the small victories is important.
So, how can you start strong with your healthy lifestyle, so your new habits are more likely to stick?
- Start slow and focus on cognitive goals. This means you should gather information, consider your options, and come up with the core reasons fueling your desire to make these lifestyle changes. Once you have your reasons why, your efforts tend to fall into place.
- Keep your focus on long-term benefits. It's fine to jumpstart a healthy living program with something short-lived, like a juice cleanse or 30-day fitness program, but make sure you also focus on long-term efforts. You can't drink anything but juice forever. Create a plan that is sustainable and possible to carry out for the rest of your life.
- Appreciate the small steps you make. Lifestyle changes are more successful when you make short, gradual strides toward your goal. It might feel good to completely revamp everything in your life initially, but this also makes it easier to backslide. Small, incremental changes tend to pay off more in the long-run.
- Focus on the most impactful actions. Every little bit matters, but if you really want to see results, you need to do something that is significant.
- Know that your motivation may ebb and flow. Make sure that you have a plan in place for when it does.
- Find the joy in the changes you're making in your life. Appreciate what you're doing and find ways to reward yourself for your improved choices. Also, focus on how you feel inside: you're taking care of yourself, and that's important. It should spark joy and make you feel better about everything in your life.
Healthy Habits Day-to-Day
Now that you have a general plan in place, you can focus on your day-to-day living. Each day provides an opportunity to make better, healthier decisions.
Begin with your current habits and think about how you can improve those. This can be easier than implementing an entirely new pattern into your daily routine. For instance, if you’re already making breakfast at home, shop for groceries that are healthier than your current choices. If you prefer to grab lunch out during your workday, search for a few healthy restaurants near your workplace. If you haven't downloaded Pravan Clinic's Guide To Healthy Dining Out in Puerto Rico, it is a great resource to have handy. These changes can be far simpler than going from eating out every day for a particular meal to packing all of your lunches. Start with tweaking your current routine in ways that are impactful.
These small changes are more likely to stick when you struggle with motivation. You will experience times when you're eager to do everything you need to do to build a healthier life, and there will be times when you aren't. Learn how to cope with these challenging times.
If you're able to identify negative thoughts and turn them into productive ones, you'll be much more successful. One of the easiest ways to deal with your thoughts about healthier living is to keep a journal. You can write down your thoughts on paper, on your computer, or in an app. You should also make notes or take pictures about what you’re eating day-to-day, what your fitness routine looks like, and how you’re sleeping - you can even use a Sleep Cycle App. All of this information can help you identify patterns and find out what's working, and what may not be.
The key to long-term success with healthy living is to get to know yourself and figure out what works for you.
Be Patient with Yourself
Finally, don't be too hard on yourself. It takes time to build healthy habits and create a new lifestyle. You're going to backslide occasionally, and that's alright. What's important is that you get back on track. Your health and wellness are a lifelong process, and there are bound to be ups and downs.
It’s also important to know the difference between a splurge or indulgence and an actual slip-up. If your plan to create a healthier lifestyle lacks opportunities to indulge every once in a while, it's bound to fail. There's nothing wrong with making a less-than-healthy choice for a special occasion. Anything can be done in moderation. A bit of meditation and introspection will always work wonders. Keeping your brain calm and relaxed will help your body follow.
You'll know you're facing a problem when your treats are no longer a conscious choice, and your "autopilot setting" defers to unhealthy. The key to healthy living is finding a way to make the routines that you do day in and day out the healthiest they can be. This gives you space to indulge every now and then.
Finally, make sure you take into account the natural stressors that occur in your life. It might be easy to stick to a healthy lifestyle when things are going well, but this isn’t always going to be the case. Life events can throw you off track. It can also be difficult to create a healthy lifestyle if you are dealing with chronic health issues, such as insomnia, depression or anxiety. Finding, and partnering, with a healthcare provider you can trust will make all the difference.
Pravan Clinic in San Juan was founded in 2017 with the purpose of inspiring healthy lifestyles in people. Think about Pravan as a personal health concierge, with a full medical and wellness team behind you that includes doctors, nurses, a nutritionist and wellness coach to guide you through the process of improving your health.