It seems that one of the hardest things for people to do when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle is actually sticking to good habits.
This can be annoying, frustrating and confusing. You know that you feel great when you eat well, move your body daily, get enough sleep, and spend quality time with family and friends.
So why is it that just as you think the healthy parts of your life are moving along well, you sabotage things and go back to less-than-healthy habits?
It is easy to come up with excuses. Do any of these sound familiar:
“I have had a bad day, so I deserve to get McDonald’s on the way home for dinner.”
“I am exhausted, I am not in the mood to exercise.”
“It is a crazy, busy week, I don’t have the ability to be looking after myself this week.”
There are probably many other similar things you have said to yourself over the years, if not exactly these things. And when you convince yourself that it is ok to let your health goals slide, it is easy to follow through with not doing what you had set out to do. And then what usually happens is you don’t ever pick things up again.
Your health goals end up by the wayside and the good things you had started doing suddenly stop and you are back where you started from.
You need community
One of the reasons I think we allow this to happen is because we are trying to do it alone. You end up feeling like the lone sheep who is trying to do what you feel is best for your long-term health. But going it alone is hard, and boring, and overwhelming.
But, when you have support from other people, when you are making positive changes along with a community of others, it becomes so much easier to stay focused. This is why support group meetings are so effective for people who are trying to make massive changes to their life and to turn their life around- that support from community and knowing you are doing the hard work with others around you, is vital for success.
You need guidance and support
Behind every good sports person, there is definitely at least one coach. It would be impossible to become an Olympic athlete without the guidance and support of a coach on the sidelines to cheer you along, to help you to see your weaknesses so you can up your game, to be there to keep you motivated and focussed when things get really tough.
And making changes to your own lifestyle can be just as much of a challenge to most people as it is getting an Olympic gold medal. It talks perseverance and sacrifice, it takes pushing through when it is really difficult and going through with things despite the challenges.
You should not be expected to do that alone, and that is where getting guidance and support from a health coach (like me!) and from others who have been there and done that can be vital for long term success. Without it, you are much more likely to fail- even if you are one of the most determined and focussed person in the world.
You need the time to make habits stick
There has been research done that has proven that it takes 21 days to break old habits and to make new ones stick. When people quit smoking, it takes just a week for the nicotine to leave the body and for the withdrawal symptoms to go away. But the mental and emotional habit of smoking takes longer to break- around 21 days- and is more difficult for most people to battle through than the physical nicotine addiction.
It can help to break old habits by following through with news ones to replace them, and to stick with those new habits for 21 days to allow them to become a regular and normal part of your lifestyle.
When I decided to quit drinking coffee, I started off by cutting down my cups and then cutting them out completely while at the same time replacing coffee with herbal teas and green juices. It took me 3 weeks to really not miss my coffee and to automatically just make myself a tea in the morning.
I also had to have some other habits too- instead of sitting at the table with my coffee first thing, I started sitting out back with my green juice, to really replace the old bait with a new, better one. And to make such a change automatic it does take time.
You need to make your goals do-able and fun
There is absolutely no point in setting goals for yourself that you know you can’t keep to or which will be almost impossible for you to follow through with. This is setting yourself up for failure!
Saying you will lose 20kg in one month is crazy-town (and very unhealthy!). A more realistic goal would be to lose 1kg a week for a month, and to the break that down into daily things you can do to help you reach that goal.
They also need to be fun things to do. If you hate the gym, forcing yourself to walk on the treadmill for an hour every day is not going to be something you want to do, so again you are setting yourself up for failure and not inevitable success.
If you want to follow through you need to find an activity that is fun so you are intrinsically motivated to do that activity. This might be doing some yoga or a dance class or trying boxing- whatever it might be that you get to move your body in a way that is fun and not a drag- and then you will want to keep doing it.
These reasons are actually why I create the 21 Day Get Healthy Challenge. I wanted to create a way for you to break your unhealthy habits and start on the path to new ones by making it fun and enjoyable, doable and actionable, and spanning the perfect length of time to make the new habits stick. I also wanted to build a community of others who will be going along for the ride with you and to provide you with support and guidance as your health coach.
The next 21 Day Get Healthy Challenge starts on Monday 1st June and I hope you will join us. For just $1 a day it is tremendous value and there is even the extra motivation of being able to win prizes when you show ne that you are doing the challenges that are set.
This is for people to do from anywhere in the world and is perfect for those of you who find making health habits hard to stick to! There will be support and guidance from me in the Facebook group, a community of other challenges working towards the same fun and do-able goals and there is motivation to win prizes too.