Making healthy choices isn’t easy, and passive peer pressure doesn’t really help. Wanting to change something about ourselves, wishing to develop healthy habits, is much harder to accomplish when everybody around us simply refuses to change.
However, we shouldn’t focus on what others are doing. What we should do is invest our attention to bettering ourselves and embracing a (physical and emotionally) healthy lifestyle. The assistance and support of others is nice and useful, but we should not rely on such things, rather, only appreciate them if they are there.
The first and perhaps most important notion you need in order to embrace healthy habits is to start small. Too often we set high and difficult goals, only to become dejected and discouraged once we inevitably fail.
Running a marathon, quitting smoking, initiating a regular meditation practice, learning how to code and paint – these are all wonderful goals. The problem is, attempting them all at once will inevitably lead to burnout.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t reach for the stars. What we are saying is that having one goal at a time (running a 5k for example) will increase your chances of success. Furthermore, it can serve as a stepping stone to a larger and more serious goal (running a full rough trail marathon). So if you want to, for example, start meditating, begin with just 5 minutes every other day, and then build it up to half an hour, five to six days a week.
Plan properly and understand set-backs happen
In line with the previous point, we advise you set clear and actionable goals which will assist you in cementing healthy habits. When you set a goal, try to partition it into many sub-goals. Just to give you an example, let’s say you want to get a 100 kilo bench-press.
You want to focus on two things. The first one is the actual final goal. The second thing is having a weekly or monthly target. Increasing the weight every week will keep you motivated and on track. Also, many people simply don’t make notes of their success and improvements. Keep a workout journal, and you will have physical and objective proof of just how far you have come.
Also, don’t be disheartened by failure, it is completely natural. If you want to quit smoking, know that there will be times when you fall of the wagon and light one up during times of stress. If that happens, accept that you had a cigarette, and don’t dwell on it.
Having the mindset of “oh I ruined everything, what’s the point of trying” will just push you towards smoking a pack a day again. Instead, understand that you made a mistake that doesn’t automatically delete all the progress you made.
Focus on improving your energy levels
You should do everything in your power to increase how much energy you have. This is both a habit in-and-of-itself, but it is also a foundation that will make the development of any habit, from the obvious ones like regular exercise, to things like reading more often, easier. You will have more energy to read after a hard day at work, for example, or will deal better with stress-snacking caused by quitting cigarettes.
So, first, you should cut out foods that you may be intolerant to. For example, many people live their lives not knowing they are (to a lesser or greater degree) lactose intolerant. Many people are just fine with gluten, but there is a percentage that have issues with it. So, munching on some high-quality gluten free snacks instead of regular unhealthy snacks is a good alternative. Baby carrots, fruit, and nuts are a viable replacement as well.
Make a habit of drinking at least 8 cups of water per day, ideally having one glass the moment you wake up. Getting as much fresh air and sunshine as you can will also do wonders.
Developing healthy habits is the best way to achieve any goal you want. They create a strong structure and foundation upon which you can build your life. Just remember to take care of your body and diet, take small steps at a time, and create planned, actionable goals.