8 Simple Ways to Build Healthier Habits
Forming habits takes time
According to most researchers, it takes 21 days to form a habit, which is a long time when you think about it. But it does make you wonder; how did you form the habits you currently have? Did they also form over 21 days, or is there some other explanation?
It’s rather simple, actually.
Those habits are built on comfort. They allow you to exert a little amount of force in order to get a comparatively large gain. For instance, you might order some fast food because it gives you instant comfort and satisfies your hunger, even though you’re fully aware of the effects it has on your health and wellbeing. In comparison, cooking a meal for yourself takes time, effort, and even a bit of trial and error–especially if you’re new to cooking. The result is that you’ll satisfy your hunger, but you exerted more effort.
And that forms the basis of why we build bad habits.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t change. It just takes a little mindfulness and effort in order to overcome those bad habits. Below you’ll find 8 simple changes you can make to create a healthier lifestyle.
1. Drink more water.
Many nutritionists recommend you try to drink at least two liters of water each day. Grab a case of water that tastes great and has zero additives, sugars and other nasty things. It’s healthier, it keeps your thirst (and hunger) quenched and you won’t be taking in loads of liquid calories.
Related article: Is This Responsible for Your Poor Health?
2. Focus on the doable.
You probably can’t fit a daily 3 mile run into your schedule if you’re super swamped and not quite fit enough, so focus instead on the things you can do. For instance, instead of ordering food and waiting at home, consider actually walking to the store instead. Or maybe you can bike to work instead of driving. Try to think outside the box a bit and determine what you CAN do each day to make yourself healthier.
Focus on what you can do, rather than focusing on excuses for what you can’t.
3. Stop making excuses.
There are plenty of excuses people create to explain why they’re not healthy. Perhaps it’s because of a medical condition or maybe it’s something seemingly out of control. Instead of making excuses, again, focus on the small changes you can make then make those changes.
You can see how making and excuses and focusing on the doable might go hand in hand.
Related article: Stop Making Excuses for Not Pursuing Your Goals
4. Scale back on portion sizes.
We eat plenty of food and many of us feel like there’s room for more. Sadly, this leads to overeating and weight gain. To fix this, scale back your portions, even if it’s just a tiny bit. If you’re used to eating two whole chicken breasts and a scoop of rice for dinner, try slightly less rice or cutting one of the chicken breasts in half to use for tomorrow’s lunch.
5. Be more mindful of your meals.
A lot of people force themselves to eat because they think they need the energy. They’ll eat cereal bars and protein bars throughout the day and munch on plenty of fruit, thinking it’s a healthy way to maintain their energy. But when you’re not fully focused on whether or not you’re hungry and the choices you make to quash that hunger, you’re far more likely to consume far more calories than you intend to.
Related article: Mindful Eating: The Connection Between Mindfulness and Eating Well
6. Add exercise to your day.
Exercise doesn’t spandex and a water bottle. Exercise can be a walk around the block after dinner, it can be standing up and stretching while you’re watching television, or it can even be cleaning the house more regularly. Exerting effort and strength of any kind is exercise and the more you do it, the better off you’ll be. Start as small and as slow as you need to and be consistent. Your desire to increase the intensity of your “workouts” will come naturally.
7. Make it harder to be lazy.
Cut out the shortcuts in your life. If you’re sitting down and find yourself constantly snacking, move the snack bowl further away so you need to exert more effort in order to get it. If you find yourself taking the bus to work despite it being a 20-minute walk, consider leaving the house without cash or your travel pass and forcing yourself to walk. If you put some thought in to it, you’ll probably find lots of little things you can do to make it harder to be lazy.
8. Replace the bad stuff.
Swap the fried snacks for low-fat options, get rid of the sweets and replace them with fruit, and explore low-sugar and low-salt alternatives. There are plenty of replacements that can offer the same satisfaction, but with a lower calorie count and more ingredients that are good for your health, rather than detrimental.
These are just a few quick ideas. If you really put some thought into your daily eating habits and the way you live your life, you’ll likely find quite a few areas you can make some changes. Start small and track your consistency. In time, your current bad habits will change to healthier ones.
Have some other tips for making healthy changes? Share them!