Creating healthy lifestyle habits consists of two parts: knowledge and application of the knowledge. For many people, the latter part is the hardest. As the saying goes, "Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going." Here are key tips/tools to help you get habits started and maintained.
Be intentional about how to get to your goal.
Want to increase more regular exercise? Great! Yet wanting to increase exercise is not enough (that would be your motivation). You need to have intentionality about increasing exercise. SMART goals can help you think about your first steps. SMART goal format is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound.
- Specific: You want to be simple and sensible; I will walk with my dog, after work.
- Measurable: breaking goal down into measurable parts: I will walk 3 times this week.
- Attainable: can I walk, or do I have limitations to walking?
- Realistic: for this week, can I confidently follow through with walking 3 days per week.
- Timebound: a clear start and finish date; by the end of this week, I will walk 3 times.
Support is a big factor in success. One way for support is having accountability through journaling. Tools such as pedometers can support you in improving your exercise, by tracking your steps or the minutes you dedicate to exercise. When you check your progress throughout the day or week, you are keeping this goal a priority. Self-monitoring can also help with awareness. Maybe you want to lower your sodium intake. Track your total intake in one day or a week. You are tracking to investigate (not judge yourself!): how much do I consume, what foods have sodium, why do I eat more sodium some days and not other days? Once you gain awareness then you have clarity about what needs to change. Use your SMART goal to be intentional about the change.
The habits you worked on to create the change you desire, must continue for life. There is no finish line to these changes. You will get off track but don't focus on those setbacks, focus on getting back on track. You are in control of your success!
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