Written by Hilary Rock BSc, Nutrition
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
It is no secret that changing your lifestyle can be very challenging. Part of making changes, has to do with how you approach change. Changing your habits is a process that involves several stages and it may take some time before the changes become new habits. Use these tips for setting healthy eating and active living changes you can stick to.
- Keep it Simple and Realistic: Make one little change at a time, that you know is achievable. Skip dessert, go for a walk, eat an extra helping of vegetables– go easy on yourself. Simple changes will be more manageable and can make a big impact in the long run. Focus on one thing to change at a time.
- Focus on the Positive: When making changes try to focus on what you can add to your routine rather than what you should stop or take away. Try reframing what you want to change to focus on the things you will enjoy more. For example, instead of trying to cut out all high fat and sugary snacks concentrate on enjoying more fresh fruit.
- Make a Plan: Set a specific goal and make a plan that you can follow. Write down your plan and keep track of your progress. If you end up getting off track, don’t give up. Think about how you got sidetracked. Figure out what is working and what isn’t. You will need to adjust your plan accordingly to succeed. Make sure your plan is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
- Write it Down: Use a journal or an app to help track your process. This allows you to evaluate along the way. Make a schedule for the week, setting aside time to do tasks that help you reach your goal. Try making a vision board to ensure you see and will be reminded of your goal on a daily basis. If you are more technology driven, try an app such as Productive Habit Tracker or Quantify as they allow you to record and track your goals.
- Work Together: Try to find someone with the same or similar goals as you. This increases accountability as well as gives the opportunity to keep each other motivated. Having people around you for support can make a world of difference when you are trying to change your lifestyle habits.
- Challenge Yourself: Revisit your goals and think of ways to expand on them. For example, if you become comfortable with walking 5 days a week, consider adding strength training twice a week. Keep the challenges small and achievable but challenging enough to keep you interested and determined. Mix up your routine to stay focused and engaged.
- Reward Yourself: Give yourself something to look forward to right from the start for when you achieve your goals. Think positive rewards such as something that won’t reverse your progress. Whether it be a day to relax and rejuvenate, an outing with friends/family, a new book, or something special that you’ve been wanting.
New habits, including healthy eating and regular physical activity, are challenging. It can take hard work and dedication. Keep your goals small and realistic so they become part of your routine.