Have you ever wondered how you got into a new habit? Whether it’s a bad habit like smoking, drinking or couch surfing, or a good habit like observing Meatless Monday or calling a loved one on a regular basis, every new habit starts the same way.
One small step.
That’s really all it takes. One small step and then another, and another, in the same direction.
True, it’s a bit easier to get into the habit of couch surfing than crossfit, but it is possible (and awesome) to get into a new healthy habit. So let’s talk about how to get started with a healthy lifestyle change and make it stick.
Find Your Happy
Why is couch surfing so addicting? Well, binge-worthy Netflix series, for starters, and virtual reality games and bad weather and pizza. But there’s so much more to life than lying on the couch. Engage in sports but be careful you might end up getting sports related injuries if you don’t prep up good.
To get started with a new healthy habit, you have to find something you love or at least enjoy enough to get off the couch. Talk to your friends to see what excites them and see if you can join in on the fun.
If your friends are stuck on the couch, look online. Every city has dozens of Meetup groups doing fun and healthy things together. For example, there are literally dozens of walking Meetup groups in Atlanta, Georgia. These groups range from neighborhood walking groups to Nordic Pole Walking groups to just about every other walking theme you can imagine. If there’s a way to walk, you’ll find a Meetup group for it in Atlanta.
In Jacksonville, Florida, there’s a Stand Up Paddle Board Meetup with close to 3,000 members. Talk about a healthy new habit — stand up paddle boarding burns up to 800 calories in a moderate one-hour session. Plus, it’s a great way to get social time with new and old friends.
Maybe you don’t have access to calm waters or a stand up paddle board but still want to get into a healthy new exercise routine. Here are a few ideas that require no expensive special equipment or unique location:
- Morning walks before work
- Evening walks after dinner
- Dog walking for your neighbors — double bonus with this one if you charge for your services
- Beginner yoga in your living room
- Exercise equipment in your apartment complex gym, if you have one
- Swimming or water exercise at your community pool
Think Outside the Box
A new exercise routine isn’t the only way to add a healthy new habit to your day-to-day routine. You have dozens of other options, such as switching to organic foods, replacing toxic cleaning products with natural products or eliminating junk food. You might even try all of these ideas to get a healthy new life you totally love.
So give your lifestyle an honest look. What products are you using or eating that could be easily replaced with something healthy?
To do this, look at every room in your home and write down the not-so-healthy things you see.
Do you know what’s in your shampoo, toothpaste or toilet cleaner? You might be surprised how many unhealthy ingredients exist in normal household supplies. Not only can you get healthier by switching to natural products, you can also save money.
Consider replacing glass cleaner with white vinegar, or toothpaste with baking soda. You’ll spend less, do yourself a healthy favor and get awesome results.
We all know that foods many or even most packaged foods contain harmful preservatives, colorings and fillers. Many are worse, with hormones and antibiotics.
Take a look in your pantry and your refrigerator to understand exactly what you’ve been eating. If it’s in a box, give it an extra-careful look.
You might not want to throw out what you’ve already bought, but you can make a decision right now to make smarter and healthier buying decisions from now on.
Instead of canned veggies and fruits, look for fresh, organic produce. Replace other packaged foods like macaroni and cheese and rice mixes with fresh ingredients you can make yourself. Not much into cooking? That’s ok because grocery stores now carry dozens of pre-made organic meals you can heat up for healthier meals.
Your Laundry Room
Did you know you can get fresh and clean laundry with about half the detergent and none of the fabric softener? It’s true.
Try adding hydrogen peroxide to every laundry load. Your detergent will go twice as far and your clothes will look better.
If you use dryer sheets or fabric softener, cut back to once every dozen loads. Believe it or not, the residue from one use of fabric softener lingers in your dryer so you don’t need it with every load. Better yet, eliminate it altogether. There’s nothing better than freshly dried clothes from the outdoor clothesline. It’s better for your skin and your clothing.
What are you putting in your coffee? If you’re using high-calorie or zero-benefit things like flavored creamers or artificial sweeteners, think about eliminating them. After all, who really needs a $7, 400-calorie, vanilla bean frappuccino, anyway? Plus, that 400-calorie drink is loaded with 16 grams of fat.
Yes, you can do better.
Consider green tea sweetened with honey, downsizing to small-sized beverages or (gasp!) no cream or sweeteners at all.
You can do it. You really can.
Share the Love
There’s a reason so many people like to post on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter when they get to the gym. Social media helps generate social support.
Even if your close friends and family don’t get excited about your healthy new routines (and let’s face it, sometimes our loved ones are our bad habit co-conspirators), someone on social media will be. Those are your people.
Go Easy on Yourself
Once you start your new habit, try your best to stick with it. Write reminders to yourself to keep to your commitment. Ask friends or family to act as accountability partners.
But if you miss a day or backslide onto your couch, cut yourself some slack. One step backward is ok. Just don’t take two or you might find yourself stuck in that unhealthy rut again.
So get excited about your new healthy habit. Snap selfies. Take healthy food pics. Document your positive steps. Post to your heart’s content! You’ll soon find a robust following of new and old friends just as excited about your new lifestyle as you are.
You probably have a good idea already of where you can take some healthy new lifestyle baby steps so what’s holding you back? The first thing to do is take that first small step.