If you Google how long it takes to create a new habit, the most common response you will see is 21 days. I happen to think it is a little longer than that… especially if you are trying to change daily health habits. For most of us, we have had the same eating and exercise habits for years. In order to really make long lasting changes, it involves more than just eating your fruits and veggies. I personally think in order to create permanent healthy living habits, you need to also examine the emotional ties you have to food along with any physical triggers.
And just to confirm my theory on creating new habits, a study done by Lally et. al 2009 revealed that of the 96 participants, the majority felt that the new habit really started to take effect at 66 days.
I think this study is particularly helpful this time of year because so many of us are looking to make changes to our daily health habits. I personally feel that the new habit likely gets easier at 21 days, but becomes more of a part of life at the 60 day mark.
So what the heck does all this mean? It means if you are really looking to make long lasting changes, you need to have a little patience and persistence my friend.
I understand what it is like to feel frustrated about your weight. I have been there. Honestly, one of the best things that could have happened to me and my health was getting pregnant. Ok, two good things came from that. One, the baby, and two, I had to really work to get the 40+ pounds off that I gained during the pregnancy. After the pregnancy I studied food and tried to figure out the best and healthiest way to lose weight. I was breastfeeding so I couldn’t take any supplements or do any crazy diet and I wasn’t one of the lucky ones that lost 20 pounds after the baby was born. Nope. I lost a whole 10 pounds, leaving me with 30 to lose after the little bundle of joy came.
I learned so much about what foods I needed to eat to really rev up my metabolism and make me feel the best I could feel. I learned that in order to lose weight, I needed to avoid processed foods and stick to mostly whole foods. I also learned that in order for me to lose the weight, I needed to change my bad habits and replace them with good habits.
I needed to find a way to eat so I didn’t feel hungry all the time, lose weight, have enough energy to be up at night with the little one (then work all day) and come home and exercise. I also needed to curb the sugar cravings I had as I pretty much ate whatever the heck I wanted when I was pregnant. So what did I do?
I started reading books about food and how to cut sugar cravings. I ended up taking a Health Coaching course geared towards medical professionals and I loved it. It helped me as much as it did my patients! I loved learning about how emotions and habits were so much a part of what we put into our bodies. I happen to believe that most people know what they are supposed to eat, they just eat the food that tastes good instead. I happen to think that most people want to eat well, they just feel unmotivated or frustrated when the scales don’t move. I know because I have been there too!
The tips I am going to give you are the ones I used to dig deep and figure out what I really needed to make things work. This is the short list of what I came up with:
5 Helpful Tips to Create Daily Health Habits You Can Sustain
Examine Your Past
Do you see any patterns from your past that may help you be successful with your future in regards to your health? Did you seem to do better in a group setting than you did on your own? Did you find a certain diet or lifestyle change that really helped? Was there an accountability partner you had before that really inspired you to eat well and exercise.
Identify these patterns from your past to get you started on the right foot. When you actually sit and reflect, you can learn a lot about yourself and what you actually need to be successful with long term healthy living and changing your daily health habits.
Identify Specifically What You WANT to Change
Be as specific as possible here. For example, “I want to walk 15 minutes per day during my lunch hour 5 days per week” or I want to lose 10 pounds over the next month and I will go to Weight Watchers for support and encouragement.”
These are actionable steps you can take to and you know specifically what your goals are. Being specific allows you to have a clear focus of what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it. There is no guess work.
Set goals daily, weekly, and monthly. I also like to set goals quarterly, every 6 months and for a year that way I know if I will hit my BIG goal at the end of the year.
Phase Out Junk Food
Get rid of junk food in your house and make it a point to promise yourself that you will only eat junk food if you make it. The next time you want something sweet, you will have to actually take the time to make it. I think this is actually really helpful. This gives your brain the opportunity to say “No, I don’t really feel like making that” or “You know what, I am not that hungry anyways.” It is almost like a built in checks and balances system when the food is not readily available.
Also, you have more control of calories, fat content and additives if you are making the goodies at home. Processed foods slow down your metabolism and make you feel sluggish, lack focus, motivation and sometimes make you feel downright depressed. Get rid of the temptation in your house. It is one of the easiest ways to make sure you aren’t reaching for the chips or cookies.
Drink More Water
Make yourself a deal to only drink water during the day. Avoid drinking soda/pop, juices, too much alcohol, or sports drinks. They only add calories that aren’t necessary. The goal is to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day. Figure out a method in which you can stick to this goal. For example, I have a large 32 ounce plastic cup I use with a straw because it helps me drink more throughout the day. It may sound weird, but it totally works for me. Do what works best for you though.
Track Cues to Emotional Eating
If you tend to binge eat, are there certain cues you notice? What factors lead you into making unhealthy choices? This is a very important way to establish the daily health habits you have now that you may want to change. If you can look back and figure out these cues, it will put them to the forefront of your mind and allow you to change them.
This is really important especially if you want to make long lasting changes to your daily health habits. If you are interested in a little help to get you started check out the workbook I just put together.
Bottom line, creating better daily health habits you can sustain is important for your health. If you are interested in making changes in regards to your health and need a little help, you can check out the free healthy living email course by clicking here or you can check out The Simply Intentional Healthy Living workbook. The Healthy Living email course consists of:
- Tips to avoid emotional eating. You will identify your emotional eating triggers and create new habits to break the old ones
- This course also goes over exactly how much exercise is recommended and why you may be having trouble sticking to an exercise routine
- You will learn about the concept of Mindful Eating as a way to set a goal for yourself to not over-indulge and to gain control over eating once and for all.
- There are also printables to go along with each section!
The Simply Intentional Healthy Living workbook includes:
- Over 30 pages of discussion and actionable tips on how to make healthy changes in your diet.
- The workbook helps you identify the habits you want to change and make better, healthier changes.
- Goes over what you should eat if you are addicted to sugar
- Gives you a structure of how to eat during the day so you aren’t hungry
- Gives you examples of breakfast, lunch and dinner options that are healthy
- Includes 100 Clean Eating Snack ideas
- Goes over strategies on how to meal plan and how to save money on healthy food.
The cost of the workbook is $7. You can grab your copy of the workbook here. I do recommend that you also take the free healthy living email course as the 2 go hand in hand. You can sign up for that here.
I really believe that in order to making long lasting changes in regards to your health, you have to reflect on your character, what works for you and what you need to be successful. If you take the time and put in the work, you will reap the benefits.
Free Meal Planning Printable
Download your FREE weekly meal planning printable to help you stay organized and save money on food!