Making healthy decisions are easier said than done, but we all know that making them can help us feel better and live longer. Even when people have tried to get more exercise and sleep, eat healthier, or reduce stress, but haven’t succeeded, there are always more reasons to get up and try again. We explain how many people have transformed their health on the keto diet. Dieters are creating healthy habits, and we know you can do it too. Learn more about the ketogenic diet in the Body Reboot book, and read on to learn about some clever strategies that’ll help make healthy habits stick.
Before you start creating new habits, News in Health recommends observing which patterns you have right now. To feel good about yourself and build your confidence that you can make more positive decisions and become aware of what you’re already doing right. Now try to replicate those habits by creating new ones.
Regular things you do—from brushing your teeth to having a few drinks every night—can become habits. Repetitive behaviors that make you feel good can affect your brain in ways that create habits that may be hard to change. Habits often become automatic—they happen without much thought.
“The first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly,” explains Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College. “Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.”
Maybe you eat too much while watching TV or join a friend on smoke breaks even when you don’t want a cigarette. “You can develop ways to disrupt those patterns and create new ones,” Marsch says. For instance, eat meals with the TV off or join friends for healthy activities, like walk breaks.
How is a habit defined? VeryWell Mind provides an excellent definition below and based on its description it should give you a good idea on how to implement new ones going forward.
Doing something for the first time takes preparation and intention. With consistency, less attention, thought, or effort must be paid. Lally describes a habit as a behavior that is repeated often enough so that over time, less conscious thought is required to make it happen. Rather, cues in a person's environment or situations begin to trigger the behavior as an automatic response: it's bedtime, so you brush your teeth (teeth-brushing has thus become a habit).
The paper cites the following characteristics of an automatic behavior or habit:
you're less aware that you're doing it
it's less controllable
Habits start in our 20s, but it’s not too late to form new ones. The New York Times explains why it’s easier to start habits when you’re younger, but you can still apply the techniques they mention below to make them stick.
The patterns you establish right now will impact your health, productivity, financial security and happiness for decades. How much money you make, how much time you spend with your friends and family, how well your body functions years from now — all of these, in many ways, are products of the habits you are building today.
And in the last decade, our understanding of the neurology of habit formation has been transformed. We’ve learned how habits form — and why they are so hard to break. We now know how to create good habits and change bad ones like never before.
At the core of every habit is a neurological loop with three parts: A cue, a routine and a reward.
To understand how to create habits — such as exercise habits — you must learn to establish the right cues and rewards.
Are you focusing on cognitive goals or getting caught up in the action? To make sure you follow through, Huffington Post Life says to think about the benefits behind following through. Things will seem a little less daunting if you focus on how the habits may change your life instead of another task you have to “do.”
When people set out to improve their health, they often think about action. Eat better, meditate, run more. But the truth is that getting healthy starts in your head.
If you don't feel ready to take an action step forward, don't worry. Just focus on “cognitive goals”, where you gather information, think about your options, consider the benefits of change versus staying the same, and map out how you might best integrate new healthy behaviors in your life. In due time, you'll feel ready to take an action step forward, and the cognitive work you've done will pay off.
News in Health mentions another tip that can help you follow through with habits, which is vividly imagining how it’ll feel after you’ve achieved that goal.
Epstein has found that some people have a harder time than others resisting their impulses. He calls this “delay discounting,” where you discount, or undervalue, the larger benefits of waiting in favor of smaller immediate rewards. This can lead to things like overeating, substance abuse, drinking or shopping too much, or risky sexual behavior.
“You can learn to postpone immediate gratification through episodic future thinking, or vividly imagining future positive experiences or rewards,” he explains. “It’s a great way to strengthen your ability to make decisions that are better for you in the long run.”
Epstein is now studying how to use this technique to help people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes prevent the disease.
Focusing on how a change might heal your body and enhance your life can help. When you stop smoking, your risk of a heart attack drops within 24 hours. Reducing stress can lead to better relationships. Even small improvements in your nutrition and physical activity can reduce your health risks and lengthen your life.
Have you been honest with yourself about your “why”? Lifehacker reminds us how important it is to think back on why you’re going on a diet or making a healthy life change. You need to have a good reason to follow through and stick with your goals. So think of something you really want that you’re unable to do or have now.
Before we do ANYTHING with actually building habits, you need a damn good reason as to why you want to build them in the first place or the changes will never stick.
Without a good reason, you’re dead in the water:
If you’re here because you decided you “should” get in shape, you’re going to fail the second life gets busy.
If you are dragging yourself to the gym because you think you “should” run on a treadmill five days a week even though you hate it, you’re screwed!
As you’re determining the habits or resolutions you’re trying to set, make the habit part of a bigger cause that’s worth the struggle.
You’re not just going to the gym, you’re building a new body that you’re not ashamed of so you can start dating again.
You’re not just learning to like vegetables, you’re losing weight so you can fit into your dream wedding dress.
You’re not just dragging yourself out of bed early, you’re getting up earlier so you can work on your side business before your kids get up so you can set money aside for their college education.
Huffington Post Life also recommends thinking longer term instead of just what is going to happen tomorrow. It’s easy to focus on instant gratification, but that won’t help you reach long term goals.
Short-term solutions, like seven-day cleanses or 21-day fitness crazes, are designed to jumpstart healthy living and produce rapid results. But they're often not feasible for the long-term.
The key to getting healthy isn't having a taste of your ideal self for a few weeks then reverting back to old ways. It's about creating sustainable change. Consider behaviors you can adopt that you'll be more likely to stick with over time. This way, your efforts won't be lost, and you'll feel the true benefits of change.
Lifehacker suggests you use triggers to make following through with your goals more fun. Check out a few of their examples on how to do that below.
A trigger is something that leads you to automatically doing something else. Many smokers, for example, are often triggered to smoke after a meal. Use triggers to your advantage. If you commit to always meditating after breakfast, then after a few weeks you'll automatically think about meditating after your morning meal. Visual triggers work well, too. Laying your workout clothes on the bed in the morning will encourage you to work out when you get home from work.
If you don't enjoy doing something, you aren't going to stick with it. Find ways to make your lifestyle change as enjoyable as possible. Exercise with a friend, learn to cook healthy foods that are delicious, or find a meditation program that really resonates with you.
Creating positive habits will help you achieve your health goals and lose weight too! You can learn all about the keto diet in the Body Reboot book. We believe you have the power to reboot your lifestyle and make healthy changes going forward. Simply help us cover the cost of shipping and visit this page to get a free copy of our book!
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