Build Sustainable Habits for Life
Updated: May 18, 2020
I talk about building sustainable habits A LOT.
Every time I offer any tidbits or advice regarding nutrition and health, we talk about habits and building in good ones.
In times like this, I am beyond grateful for the habits I took years working on and building.
Those habits have served me well in this time of stress and if you take the time to build them, they will always serve you well too.
Does that mean I never make mistakes or deviate? No, not at all.
It means when I do deviate, the duration is shorter, and it is much easier to course correct without knowing what to do or feeling overwhelmed. I don’t end up panicking looking for the next diet to set me back on track. I just settle back into my healthy habits and listen to my body signals.
What does building healthy habits look like?
Is it some magical secret?
Building healthy habits is going to look a little different for everyone depending on the ones that aren’t healthy you are personally trying to break.
You might be a rock star at getting in movement, but your nutrition needs some help.
You might be a rock star with your nutrition, but movement is not really happening at all.
You might be doing both of those things, but your sleep and recovery make you laugh when asked about them.
Start small and build only when you are comfortable to build.
It may look like something like this.
Nutrition needs a little work.
Don’t take anything out, add vegetables in. Add whole foods in and start swapping out foods that are your trigger foods and lead to binge eating.
Order out less and less often and make meals at home. When you order out, still add whole foods in. Getting pizza? Cool, top it with veggies and have less and add a side salad or veggies.
Slowly start churning that behavior towards healthier behaviors.
Movement needs a little work. Too much can also be as detrimental as too little.
Get a wearable and start tracking your steps. Set up reminders to move every hour!
Find something you enjoy doing and add it to another habit you already do and don't have to think about. Do you eat dinner? Cool. Start with a family walk after dinner and then build from there.
Do your current workouts crush you so you end up only making it to the gym twice a week? Scale it so you aren’t crushed or move differently on the other days.
Are you constantly reaching for anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle rubs etc. just to make it through your workouts? Do you feel drained and beat up constantly? Means it's time to evaluate and adjust.
Movement doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective and keep you healthy and strong.
Your sleep and stress levels suck.
Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it.
Add in some meditative deep breathing like 4, 7, 8.
Dig a little deeper on why your sleep may be complete shit. Are hormones off? Diet? Movement?
Start with one small habit even now that you can build on for life. That may be just eating one vegetable a day for some people and that is perfectly o.k.
Habits take time, time, and more time. Trust your body and listen to it. Take the time to build lasting habits. Because in times of stress or injury, those habits will be there and serve you well.
If you are stuck at home right now, don’t worry about perfection, or staying away from all comfort foods. Your body is in survival mode when stressed and you will lean into those things a little harder than normal. Accept it and don’t attach any morals to it. You aren’t a bad person because you aren’t perfect and haven’t made every single meal out of whole nutritious foods.
Establish some habits in addition to what you are already doing. Pick something sustainable and then when life does get back to normal keep that ball rolling.
Habit building and forming is far more effective than any "diet" because if you build them appropriately and slowly, they are sustainable. Find five people who have had the same “diet” for the past ten years. I can almost bet you can’t. And if they have, how are they feeling? Are they thriving, feel amazing, look and feel great? Or are they surviving taking it day by day? How may times have they yo-yo'd on and off?
The path is yours to choose.
Do you want to diet over and over again?
Or do you want to build sustainable habits that last a lifetime and feel great?