Cultivating Healthy Habits

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Cultivating Healthy Habits

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New Years New Goals!

It is the New Year! For most of us this means setting a new year’s resolution to eat healthier, work out more, and maybe even start something new like meditation or running. Year after year we pledge to create a “New You” and somehow we slip right back into those old habits. Did you know that over 50% of the population sets a New Year’s resolution but studies show that less than 10% actually achieve their resolution1. Why is that? Do you not have enough self-discipline? Do you not want it bad enough? The answer is a resounding NO! You do have the strength, willpower and determination you just don’t have the right tools for reaching your goals. Keep reading for some tips and tactics for reaching your goals!

Set goals, not resolutions! A goal is the result of a structured and directed effort, whereas a resolution is an intention. Intentions are great, but they are really hard to measure. You may have the best intentions, but if you don’t create measurable and attainable milestones for yourself along the way the next thing you know that intention is still just an intention. Goals have well-define parameters that are structured to lead you to your resolution. Here are some steps to creating a goal and how to make it a reality.

Step 1: Write down what you want to achieve this year keep it short and sweet.

Here are some examples:

·         Eat better

·         Lose weight

·         Quit smoking

·         Get more sleep

·         Exercise more

Step 2: Get more specific and make your goal SMART!

SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Let’s say you want to lose weight to make it SMART: “Starting today I want to lose 5 pounds in 6 week, I am going to track my progress by weighing myself every two weeks, and I am going to achieve this by going to the gym 4 days a week and working out for one hour each visit.”

Specific: I want to lose 5 pounds.

Measurable: I am going to track my progress by using a scale to measure my weight loss.

Achievable: I can lose 5 pounds safely over the course of 6 weeks. And because it was a gradual change I will be able to keep it off!

Realistic: Since I am very busy with my job, family and extracurricular activities it is realistic for me to dedicate 4 hours out of the 168 hours in the week on exercise.

Time-bound: I have set a start date of today, and in 6 weeks I will achieve my weight lose!

If your goal isn’t to start a new but break a habit take the following tips into consideration.

Think about it: breaking a bad habit because it is bad isn’t always enough motivation, there is a reason behind everything we do even if it is subconsciously. First is to evaluate your habit and find the reason WHY. Let’s use smoking for this example. “The Smoke break” you get a break from work/family/responsibilities/etc. Ok the reason is you need a break! So think about it why do you need a break? Can you take a break, go outside and not smoke?

Break down the habit- SWOT an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  

1.      Strengths: What are you already doing right? Have you decreased the number of cigarettes you are smoking every day? Have you made the conscious decision you are ready to quit?

2.      Weaknesses: what is getting in the way of your change?

3.      Opportunities: Where can you find support to help you break your habit? A support group, friends, family?

4.      Threats: What happens if you don’t change? Are there other people around you the pressure you to do your old habit?

Tips for success

Set small milestones: Taking baby steps is the key to sustainable change. Saying your going to quit smoking, quit eating so much fried food and start an exercise program all at once is setting yourself up for failure.

Swap bad for good: if there is nothing to replace the bad habit there is a higher chance of relapse. For smokers a lot of the time it is an oral fixation. So grab some toothpicks, gum, or maybe some healthy snacks.

Track your progress: keep a record of the changes you make, this will help you to quantify the changes you are making, which can be a great motivator.

Forgive yourself: The next time you slip up let it go, beating yourself up isn’t making you stop smoking any faster.

Ask for support

Making the changes you want to make takes time and commitment but having support will increase your chances for success. Accepting help from those who will listens can help strengthen your commitment. Asking for help doesn’t mean a crutch, it could help you examine and set attainable goals or help view things that might be getting in the way of your success.

In conclusion

Set goals not just resolutions. Make your goals SMART. Change one behavior one at a time. We cultivate our behaviors over a lifetime so remember replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones or even starting new behaviors takes time. To improve success start small, be patient and remember it is a journey not a destination. You can do it! Just remember not one is perfect. Set your mind to recover and get back on track

Resources

1.      Psychology Today. Resolve to set resolutions that work. Published 1/2/14. Retrieved from http://www.pschologytoday.com/blog/understand-other-people/201401/resolve-set-resolutions-work

2.      WebMD. Breaking unhealthy habits. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/undo-bad-habits

 

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