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You have probably uttered these two words to address unhealthy habits like: “I should work out more,” “I should eat less sugar,” “I should eat better…”
“I should” is a common saying that comes before an excuse. If you want to adopt a healthier habit, you can only break it if you truly want to make the change for yourself and no one else. Your current behavior works for you, and until you actually believe that it’s not working for you anymore can you effectively create a different lifestyle.
Here are four ways to implement change, once you’ve taken the step beyond “I should” and decided “I will.”
Create Small Goals: “I want to eat healthier food.”
If you want to overhaul you diet, start small so you don’t set yourself up for failure. Eating healthier food is a general statement that ranges from person to person. For you it may mean drinking black coffee instead of cups full of sugar, or it may mean eating a salad for lunch and cooking healthy meals at home with the help of a meal delivery service like Blue Apron. Just keep in mind that it’s difficult to transform your eating and drinking habits 100 percent from the get-go. An effective way to start achieving your goal is to plan to home cook two healthy meals a week or to cut out gourmet, sugary coffee drinks. Once these changes become your norm, then introduce another one.
Prioritize and Prepare: “I want to lose weight.”
Even though losing weight may seem as simple as moving more and eating less, it can be a more complex endeavor. There are social pressures and emotional stressors that may contribute. Committing to drop pounds requires sacrifice and a shift in your priorities. You may have to wake up earlier to hit the gym before work. You may have to skip a work happy hour to avoid the temptation of calorie-laden drinks. You may need to dedicate more time to meal-prepping your lunches and dinners and scheduling in your workouts. You need to ask yourself, “Am I making losing weight a priority?” and then “Why have I made this a priority?” Checking in with yourself and your priorities will help you be more successful.
Be Mindful: “I want to stop overeating.”
Mindfulness and curiosity are powerful ways to break bad habits. While sitting in front of a large plate of food, stop and live in the moment. Be mindful of each bite. Enjoy the flavors, without already thinking about your next bite. As you eat, acknowledge your diminishing hunger. Be aware of overeating and if you experience signs of discomfort or feelings of guilty and shame. Once you acknowledge these feelings and enjoy the bites you do take, you can better control heavy, excess eating.
Change Your Surroundings: “I want to workout more.”
Your surroundings impact your motivations and behaviors, which includes your friends, family and co-workers. If the people closest to you agree to become your support system, then you have a greater advantage for achieving success. A workout buddy who shares your goal also keeps you accountable. It’s a way to connect with someone and create a bonding experience. Together, you can plan workout regimens, find cool gear for your individual fitness needs and celebrate mini achievements. And remember, fitness shouldn’t just be a priority when you’re in your 20s and 30s. You can achieve your fitness goals at any age as long as you have support, goals and some helpful gadgets. For example, there are fitness trackers for seniors available from a reputable company like GreatCall. These helpful fitness devices allow seniors to create and complete daily challenges. The comfortable and waterproof senior fitness tracker acts as a pedometer and tracks your daily steps. Just remember, staying fit should be a lifelong goal.
As you start achieving your goals, know that you may slip up from time to time. Understand that with the highs, will come the lows. Changing your lifestyle with different habits takes time, so acknowledge that you won’t be perfect. Instead of quitting after the first time you mess up, cut yourself some slack and reflect on how far you’ve come to regain momentum. Progress is certainly achievable.
Abby Terlecki is a marketing copywriter for a university in Phoenix, Arizona. At 5 o’clock, Abby heads to happy hour at her CrossFit gym to hang out at her favorite bar. In between writing and lifting, She explores the Grand Canyon state and enjoys the outdoors. She earned her journalism degree from Ohio University and has since made the desert her happy home.