Starting healthy habits is great, but it’s sticking to them that is the key to success. After all, anyone can do the healthy thing some of the time. It is only when we continue, day after day, with clockwork-like consistency, that we will achieve our health and fitness goals. In this article, we reveal six ways to stay consistent with your healthy habits.
- Build Your Habits Slowly
- Break Down Long-Term Goals
- Set SMART Goals
- Use a Decision Balance Sheet
- Exercise Early
Build Your Habits Slowly
A lot of people jump into an exercise or nutrition program with all guns blazing—then burn out within a couple of months. That’s why you see gyms fill up in January as people set New Year’s Resolutions and empty out by March as people lose their get-up-and-go.
Rather than going directly into a full-on exercise program or radically changing what you eat, the key to consistency is to start small and build gradually. Begin with an exercise routine that is relatively easy. Each week, make it a little bit tougher.
When it comes to what you eat, start cutting out unhealthy foods gradually. At the same time, cut your caloric intake by just 10 percent. As your body gets used to these changes, remove another food and cut back by another 10 percent until you reach your ideal.
Break Down Long-Term Goals
Setting long-term healthy lifestyle habits goals is great. However, focusing on and staying motivated to achieve a goal that is twelve months away or longer is a real challenge. That’s why setting smaller, stepping-stone goals is important to help you stay consistent.
Break your yearly goal into monthly stepping-stone goals, whether they be for weight loss, muscle gain, or anything else. Then break your outcomes goals, such as losing five pounds, into action goals, such as getting in four workouts per week. When you focus on achieving the action goal, then the outcome goal will take care of itself.
In order to achieve any goal, you need plenty of self-discipline. Motivation comes and goes in waves but self-discipline will allow you to stay consistent when your body and your mind want to do anything but what you know you should be doing.
Discipline is about being hard on yourself. Set high personal standards and demand that you live up to them. When you see other people doing unhealthy things that don’t align with your habits, repeat the mantra, “That doesn’t apply to me.”
Remind yourself daily that you are a highly disciplined person. Establish it as one of your core values and then make sure that you live that quality every day.
Ready to feed your mind? Find a great wellness book here.
Set SMART Goals
Many people fail to achieve consistency with their healthy lifestyle habits because they do not set their goals properly. Remember, goals that are unrealistic will only set you up for failure. You will lose motivation and your will to continue will evaporate.
The reason many people set unrealistic goals is that they are influenced by the false expectations resulting from deceptive marketing. Every day they see ads for products that promise dramatic weight loss or muscle gain, so they set their goals accordingly, only to find the reality is very different from the advertisement.
SMART is an acronym to help us set our goals properly. It stands for
- Time bound
Write your goals down and refer to them often. Whenever you feel your motivation waning, dig out your goals and remind yourself why you are training. If it’s a weight-loss goal, why not stick it to the fridge as a constant reminder of why you shouldn’t scarf down that big piece of cheesecake?
Use a Decision Balance Sheet
Life is full of choices—steak or chicken, beer or wine, ice cream or yogurt, work out or watch TV? Each of these decisions offers advantages and disadvantages. The trick, of course, is to choose the option that is going to take you closer to your ultimate fitness goal and not farther away from it.
Rather than just going with your gut feeling, you can use the decision balance process to make a more informed choice.
Weighing up the pros and cons on a decision-making balance sheet can help you make the right choice.
Here is what it looks like, with skipping workouts as an example:
|Skipping Workouts – Pros||Skipping Workouts – Cons|
|I will see my friends.||I won’t get any fitter.|
|I can have a few drinks.||I will probably gain weight from the beer and the subsequent takeaway on the way home.|
|We can go shopping.||I will have to try to catch up on my missed workout, so I will have less time to relax next week.|
|I’m going to feel guilty about the missed workout.|
|I’ll end up with a hangover and will feel terrible for the next 1–2 days.|
|I’m going to let my training partner down.|
|There will be a blank page in my training diary.|
The reason that many people fail to stay consistent with their workouts isn’t that they don’t want to. It’s because other things get in the way and crowd out exercising. The solution is simple: Get your workout in early in the morning before the chaos of your day kicks into high gear.
Early-morning workouts may require getting up a little earlier. However, the consistency you will be able to achieve is well worth the effort. Another benefit of working out first thing in the morning is that you will be far more likely to make healthier food choices throughout the remainder of the day.
Exercising early will also produce those feel-good endorphins that will have you feeling great about the day ahead.
Until you are able to develop consistency, you will never make headway with your health and fitness habits. Apply the six habits outlined above and you will be able to keep your healthy habits on track to achieve your goals.