Abandoning an unhealthy lifestyle after years of solid practice can seem a little daunting. Chances are you, and everyone you know has likely adopted some habits at one point in their lifetime that are either destructive, expensive, highly addictive or all of the above. Remember that the good decisions we make start just like the bad ones - that first cigarette is no different than the first run on a treadmill, in fact, both may even leave you a little winded. Shedding destructive habits by forming new dopamine inducing activities can make the process much easier and get you on track for a healthier way of life. Below are some examples to get you started.
- Eat Good Foods
By now anyone not living under a rock knows that healthy eating isn't a euphemism for rabbit food. It’s completely possible to eat a balanced diet while also eating foods you enjoy. Visiting farmer’s markets or partaking in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) will help you to learn about new kinds of produce. Services like Platejoy and Blue Apron go a step further by providing recipes and even groceries so all you have to do is get moving in the kitchen! If you are looking for cookbooks, Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes or the Chez Panisse Cookbook offer all kinds of inspiration on how to make healthy eating more fun.
Science has proven that exercise not only helps us to look better, but it helps us feel better too! You don’t have to run marathons or join fitness competitions to feel the effects. The key to committing to exercise is enjoying it. Find a type of exercise you look forward to doing, it can be light, like yoga, or extreme, like rock climbing. When you keep your body moving, you are keeping in shape and getting satisfaction out of it; you will feel and be a lot healthier.
There are many ways to get moving. If you’re more comfortable in the privacy of your home, utilizing sites such as FitBie or BodyRock provide many options for at-home workouts. The more social types might enroll in a group class at the local YMCA or other nearby gyms; try a couple of different ones to learn what works for you!
- Set Goals
You are much more likely to achieve a goal when it is clearly written down and in a place you see it every day. It’s much harder to fall back on a goal when you have daily motivation and an encouraging checklist. As you try to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to be specific about your goals and figure out what being healthy means to you. Goals don’t have to be huge gestures either, if you make smaller short-term goals as well as long-term ones, you will be able to see the small steps you are taking towards success.
Achievable Short-term Goals:
- Deviate from your comfort zones to keep yourself moving. Whether it be parking a little further away or opting for stairs over the escalator, the smallest changes can make a huge difference.
- Challenge yourself once a week to 50 each of push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, pull-ups and crunches. Monitor your time to completion for encouragement and motivation.
- Cook at home three times a week (keep it healthy!)
- Surround Yourself with Loved Ones
Friends and loved ones are an important and integral part of our well being. Not only do they care about you and want to see you succeed, they’re a support system and can provide necessary encouragement and motivation to do so. Make them a priority.
- Do Something You Love Every Day
Life is best lived when we are having fun, enjoying ourselves and challenging ourselves in positive ways. The great artist Pablo Picasso made a habit of drawing, sculpting or painting every single day. Making time for the things we enjoy gives us something to look forward to, and keeps things interesting. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” So whether it’s trying a new food, learning to sew, writing a screenplay or making natural products, get out of your comfort zone and see just how awesome you can be.
- Network with Like-Minded People
For some people, it’s easier to make progress when you have another person working with and encouraging you. You can set goals together, exchange tips, exercise, make meals, and so much more! Having a support system of like-minded people is important. Sites like meetup.com have groups for just about everything and provides a way for people interested in the same activities to meet new acquaintances and spend time together.
- Know Your Life's Purpose
Set goals and focus on exactly what you will do to achieve them. One of the biggest parts of keeping a healthy mindset is having purpose. People are motivated by inspiration or desperation. Find what motivates you personally and never lose sight of that in your journey. It makes all your other, smaller goals worthwhile in the grand scheme of things.
A healthy lifestyle can be yours. Remember to stay focused, celebrate your victories (even the small ones), and don't get discouraged when you fail. And if ever you find yourself in a rut just remember the words of Wayne Gretzky, who said, "We miss 100% of the shot's we don't take."