This isn’t a post about losing 10 pounds quickly, or how to get toned arms, but instead a post about how in the past ten years I have created healthy habits and rituals. This is by no means a post saying that I only have healthy habits or that they were easy to incorporate into my life or that I still don’t slip up every now and then. But instead, I want to talk about how I have used my personality, and my life experiences to create these sustainable habits throughout my life to consistently work towards my healthiest self.
Now a few very bad habits were formed in my late teens and early 20’s when I developed eating disorders. So to be honest a lot of this self discovery and creation of healthy habits as a 30-year-old have been in response to trying to undo and fix the unhealthy mindset I was living in. A week for me back then would look something like this:
running up to 50 miles a week
obsessively counting my calories that I was taking in and working off
not eating to accomplish the above
stepping on the scale every morning after my work out
In the years to follow my body would try and tell me that it was rejecting these habits. So I have had to work very hard to morph those rejections into healthy habits that would take me into the next chapter of my life. And to do that I have had to ask some serious questions: what is “healthy” to me? What is going to make me the happiest and fit into my life/schedule? And what incentives are going to keep me going?
I actually have been able to answer this last question the best in this past year. After I read the book The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin I found out that I was a Questioner, and in that tendency we require internal justification to be able to justify it as important or necessary. So for me, I had to ask myself what was the best reason behind doing anything healthy for myself. Unfortunately in the past the answer was just to lose weight. But what did that accomplish? Nothing. In fact, it did more harm than good.
1.DISCOVER YOUR “WHY”
Now, as a married 30-year-old, my health goals has nothing to do with a weight, but instead how I feel. When I feel healthy, when I feel active, when I feel productive, is when I feel my best. And when I don’t, it effects everything; mind, body, spirit. So every day that my healthy habits don’t come as easily, I remind myself of my “why”. I remind myself how good I feel when I do eat healthy, how amazing a great workout feels and how much I enjoy it, despite how much extra work it is. Because the alternative is a pretty shitty feeling. And because of my past, that shitting feeling can be a slippery slope. So my “why” is because I truly love feeling healthy, and I absolutely hate the alternative.
2.DISCOVER YOUR “HOW”
This is the part where every single person is going to be different, which is why I hate these claims on any workout or any diet that says “you’ll lose 10 pounds”. Everyone’s body is different so everyone is going to have different results. Not to mention everyone’s lives are different so not everyone can workout 6 days a week or afford those expensive studio classes, or eat a green smoothie every day simply because they hate vegetables.
For me? It is a consistent week fo balanced workouts, and three small meals a day with 1-2 healthy snacks with an emphasis on clean protein, healthy carbohydrates, and reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars. I am able to get those balanced workouts done because I have always been super active and am able to put together my own workouts. If you’re looking for help figuring out how to create a fitness habit, here are a few ideas:
remember what has worked and what you have liked in the past. Do you like one-on-one personal training? Did you find a certain kind of workout really effective? Did you feel best when you did one thing over another? Think back on the past few years and start out by increasing that one thing!
Make YOUR OWN reasonable goals. If you are just getting back into working out, don’t have a goal to work out 6 days a week! That’s just going to burn you out. When I started to incorporate yoga back into my routine I didn’t say I was going to do it everyday, I started off by having the goal of doing it 2x a week, then I worked up to 3x a week, and now I usually end up doing it 4x a week, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.
Figure out how to hold yourself accountable. Again, this book is THE BEST when trying to figure out what is going to keep you from breaking your promises. For me? It’s my internal “why”, for other people, it might be external accountability with a workout partner or a trainer they don’t want to cancel on. Figure out what that is for you, and find several ways to accomplish that. That way throughout the week if one way fails (because…. life) then you have the other ones to back it up.
3. BE REALISTIC
This one is I think the hardest for everyone. It sounds ideal to be drinking kale smoothies every day and doing back bending yoga constantly, but baby steps can be the best way to get to your end goal. Maybe it’s just by adding a few more vegetables to your meals during the week, or adding 5 minutes of activity to your day and the slow implementation of these healthy habits will not only slowly become second nature but it will also lead to other habits.
I started writing a gratitude journal almost every morning two years ago, and while I only do it about 4 times a week now it has honestly led to an overall more positive outlook! I wanted to cook more but knew that I wouldn’t be able to find enough recipes and do the grocery shopping to keep it up, after tons of research I found Hungryroot which has led to being able to cook 4 great healthy meals a week and introduced me to some amazing brands of healthy food that I am now obsessed with!
My point here is that a small change, made consistently is the best way to form a habit. If it’s small and manageable then it’s more likely that you are able to stick to it and keeping it up, which after a few weeks or even a month or more, then feels like second nature. Hence, the importance of habits! They are sustainable, they are constant, they are change-makers!
While I still have a long ways to go and consistently look for ways to improve my health and my habits and trip up every now and then, I feel that the way that I have created healthy habits makes those slip-ups easy to bounce back from. And that’s the biggest part of it all right? Being able to bounce back from a great date night meal or a fun girl’s brunch! Not avoid them!