Five Tips for Establishing Healthy Habits

Happy Monday! Did you all enter my (mini) giveaway? You have until noon to do so!

Have you been watching the Olympics? We watched some of the opening ceremony on Friday night. I always enjoy watching the Parade of Nations. It’s a mini geography reminder and it’s so interesting to see how many people come from each country. I’m especially amazed by the athletes from warm climates that compete in the winter games!

600px-Olympic_rings_square.svg

How cool were those 3D projections on the floor? And the galloping horses through the air? At some point the ceremonies always get a bit abstract for my literal mind and that’s when I start to tune out. Plus, I have limited knowledge of Russian history other than what I learned in middle school a loooong time ago.

So, here we are in early February and I thought that after last week’s check-in post, I would write about how to revisit our goals and make them happen! Perhaps you made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, eat healthier, or work out more.  Don’t feel too bad if you haven’t been committed as you intended; 88% of all resolutions end in failure.¹ However, don’t give up, either!

Here are five tips to get you back on track to establishing some healthier habits that will stick:

  1. Quantify it. Instead of deciding, for example, “I want to get in shape,” which is a bit of an abstract idea, quantify it. If you can measure it, it’s easier to track. Instead, for example, decide “I am going to work out at least three days a week.”
  2. Plan ahead.  So you’ve decided you’re going to work out three days a week. Where are you going to work out? When are you going to work out? In thinking of your week each Sunday, plan out how you’re going to accomplish the task. If you plan to go to the gym right after work, pack your gym bag the night before so you can grab it on your way out the door the next day. I also find it easiest to change into my gym clothes before I leave work so that I’m committed to go to the gym. If I’m still in my work clothes, it makes it easier to just go home.
  3. Reward yourself. But not a reward that will sabotage your efforts and not before you’ve completed the task! Say you make it to the gym the first day. Your reward could be that you’re allowed to download one new workout song to your MP3 player or phone to listen to the next time you work out. Have you made it to the gym all three days? You could reward yourself at the end of the week with a nice tub soak for those tired muscles. 
  4. Track your progress. Looking back over the week and seeing that you made it to the gym for three days gives you a sense of accomplishment. Looking back a month ago, you’ll feel an ever greater sense of accomplishment and are probably starting to see some amazing changes in your fitness.
  5. Be prepared for failure at times. Don’t punish yourself just because you had an day or even an off week. Pick yourself back up and reaffirm your commitment to your goal. Achievement isn’t always a straight street. There are sometimes roadblocks or detours along the way, but the important parts is that you’re still going in the same direction!

Below is an example of what I use to plan and track my workouts each week. At the beginning of each week, I approximate what I’m going to do each day. I update what I’ve actually done throughout the week, and adjust based on what’s going on with my body. Today, for example, I had originally planned on running, but my plantar fasciitis has flared up a bit, so I’m going to do some non-impact instead.

Weekly workouts Jan-Feb

Questions: Have you had a hard time sticking to a goal you set? Do you use any tools to help you plan and/or track your progress? What’s your favorite Olympic sport to watch (if you’re watching)?

¹Blame It on the Brain: The latest neuroscience research suggests spreading resolutions out over time is the best approach. JONAH LEHRER. Updated Dec. 26, 2009 12:01 a.m. ET. http://on.wsj.com/1dakbhX

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4 thoughts on “Five Tips for Establishing Healthy Habits

  1. Great tips, and I love your schedule. Im pretty good at staying motivated to work out, although I’m not much for setting specific goals, just broader stuff like staying in shape, etc. I also schedule my workouts in an excel file.

  2. I haven’t watched any of the Olympics… no time unfortunately !

    I like and agree with your 5 points.
    I usually use some kind of tracking tool to track my progress. However, I prefer short term goals because things get old fast and I really get tired of filling things in.. 3 weeks is usually my limit. But I do think it helps and keeps me accountable.

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