Health Trends

How do you Start and Maintain Healthy Habits?

How do you Start and Maintain Healthy Habits?

Have you ever started a diet or exercise program but didn’t stick with it? Don’t worry, millions of people can’t either.

(It’s okay) Science says motivation naturally diminishes with time

Exante Healthy Habits

After choosing your goal, you stick to it rigidly, but in the days and months ahead, sticking to that healthy habit feels increasingly difficult. There’s a reason – motivation naturally diminishes with time. As motivation wanes, willpower needs to kick in, but we only have ‘so much’ willpower to get us through the weeks and months of turning our habit into something we ‘naturally’ do every day.

When it comes to dieting, weight loss is all about the ‘journey’ – changing your poor eating and exercise habits into healthy ones. This journey isn’t easy and it doesn’t end even when you reach your target weight. Maintaining these habits takes time and effort too.

One of the pitfalls of dieting is focusing on short-term weight loss, not on future-proof healthy habits. Research shows that people who keep the weight off do so because they set realistic long-term habits whilst dieting.

It’s all in the mind

Did you know there’s a trick to starting and maintaining long-term healthy habits? It’s all in the ‘subconscious mind’ – the part of our brain on autopilot. Things like, brushing your teeth, driving and even singing along to the radio (you do without thinking) are habits you created that became something you now do naturally. If you consciously decide to create a new habit, you can harness the power of your subconscious mind and motivation and willpower are no longer required.

How?

Don’t set BIG goals – Set small goals. Instead of saying, “I will lose a stone this month”, change that goal to, “I will eat a balanced breakfast every day.” The brain doesn’t like big changes, so keep them small.

Don’t exercise, just be ACTIVE everyday

Gruelling exercise routines are hard to stick to. So, our advice is, don’t exercise, just be ACTIVE every day. This is very important for a very good reason: because one of the biggest predictors of long-term weight-loss success is being active every day rather than no daily activity, with bursts of exercise. Exercise alone isn’t that helpful for weight loss, but it is a great way to prevent weight gain and to preserve lean body mass.

Focus on portion control, not restricting food groups

It feels like you’re always bombarded with articles saying you should restrict different foods group to lose weight. Whilst lowering your carbs can help, it’s often an unsustainable idea, leaving you open to carb cravings and weight gain. You don’t need to decline a group, you can simply pay attention to how much food you put on your plate. Love rice? Have a little portion of brown rice – it’s good for you!

Self-monitor

Those who succeed at their healthy habits self-monitor their food intake and keep track of their weight. The key is paying attention to your daily behaviours and activities and steer towards healthy ones. Track inches lost, steps taken by wearing a pedometer and even write down your food habits. How you decide to keep track is entirely up to you, but write it down. If your device of choice is a pen, a laptop, or a mobile phone, take advantage of the wealth of tools available.

 

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Lotty Cairns

Lotty Cairns

Writer and expert


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