Our bodies can take quite the beating, and it can be quite awhile before our unhealthy ways catch up with us. This leads to a false belief that our bad habits are not affecting us, and we do not feel that sense of urgency to change. For many of us, it is not until we get diagnosed with some sort of disease or condition that we realize we need to shape up. But, it is possible to change now, before the problems rear their ugly heads. It can be difficult to find that motivation, but it is possible. Here are some ways to get you on a better path starting right now.
Know You are Capable of Change
You have had your bad habits for so long, you may think you can never change. You may see yourself in an unflattering light—the unhealthy person; the person who cannot kick sweets, the person who can never stick to a diet. That is all in the head, not encoded into your DNA. Know you can change whatever you want to change.
Define Your ‘’Why’’
If your poor habits are gnawing at you, it is because you know you need to change. There is some benefit you will receive from being healthier, and the more clearly you define those benefits for you personally, the easier it is to stay motivated. List out your ‘’whys’’ and keep this list handy.
When I quit smoking almost 13 years ago, one of the most helpful tools in helping me stay quit was educating myself about the dangers of smoking and all the great things that were happening in my body because I was no longer subjecting it to cigarettes. The more informed you are about health, the easier it is to make healthy choices.
Start Managing Stress
Stress keeps us stuck in harmful habits, like eating emotionally on the regular; it puts us in a bad state of mind where we feel negative and less hopeful about ability to change. It also does all sorts of crazy things to the body that harm our health, like constricting blood vessels.
Meditation is a powerful tool for mental and physical health. It helps us observe thoughts without getting all caught up in them; it helps us adopt more a more positive perspective on life. It helps us sit with uncomfortable feelings better, without feeling a need to engage in usually destructive behaviors to make us feel better immediately.
Make a Plan
You need to make a plan for better health. Think of the things you want to improve and figure out how you will specifically accomplish these goals. If you find it hard to get back out to the gym once you get home from work, make a plan to bring your clothes with you to work. If you want to cook more meals at home, what do you need to do to make that happen?
In theory, you can completely transform overnight—change does not have to be difficult. But, in reality is it, and it is okay to struggle. Setting mini-goals is the way to go. Commit to trying a new vegetable each night, going meatless twice a week, walking 15 minutes after dinner each night. Accomplishing smaller things will give you the motivation to step it up—you will see you are truly capable of change and that will motivate you.
Set Long-Term Goals
While you may need to start off slow, this does not mean you should not think big about the future. What are some long-term health goals you have? Maybe it is to lose a certain amount of weight or run a half-marathon. Think about this.
Do Not Expect Perfection
You are not perfect, no one is. You may fudge up at times, maybe by eating a lot of fudge. This is a process, a journey to long-term permanent change. There is some room for error. Remember, the goal is to reach a point where you are making good choices most of the time, a point where healthy is the default, not the choice that needs to be made.
You Can Still Enjoy Life
Being healthy may not seem like much fun, but it is not about giving up everything in your life ,obsessively counting calories all day long or never eating sugar ever again. You can still eat pizza sometimes, enjoy alcohol and not feel like you must hit the gym every day during your two-week vacation.