The choices you make every day influence the future of your health. Whether you develop high blood pressure, diabetes or a disabling condition, in most cases, it rests squarely on your shoulders. In the past, doctors may have told you the best way to safeguard yourself against these unhealthy outcomes, but perhaps you felt unmotivated to make any lasting changes. Or, perhaps you’ve actively tried and genuinely want to make the switch to a healthy lifestyle on your own, but there’s just one problem: you still haven’t done it.
Combating this idle state can be tough, and unfortunately, abandoning an unhealthy lifestyle will not happen overnight. A more gradual approach is required to successfully transform your current lifestyle into a healthy one — and the good news is, it’s much easier to make several small changes over time than a few huge modifications all at once. When you are able to gain enough momentum to break free from this lingering inertia, things will be significantly easier.
So, where is the best place to start? Our guide is here to help you take the guesswork out of shifting to — and maintaining — a permanent healthier lifestyle.
Becoming serious about living healthy
In order for your healthy lifestyle transformation to move in the right direction, you should take the time to decide what goal to aim for. Pick a goal that you find the most compelling. By opting to aim for something that feels attainable, you will likely find yourself more motivated than shooting for an unrealistic achievement. If so, this will help you keep the momentum you need to succeed in the desired accomplishment.
For example, here are a few ideas on realistic, motivating goals versus unattainable ones that may only end up causing you to feel frustrated:
- Aiming to run a 5K in two months’ time, rather than setting out to run a complete marathon in that timeframe
- Adding one fruit or vegetable to each of your meals by the end of the month, rather than deciding to adopt a completely vegan lifestyle by the end of the week
- Resolving to be flexible enough to touch your toes three months from today, rather than pushing yourself to be able to do a perfect split one month from today
With your healthy lifestyle destination in mind, you should shift your focus onto one achievable thing that will help you get there. The best initial change you could start with is something that you believe is a sure bet, like eating a healthy bowl of cereal with bananas for breakfast instead of a doughnut. When this alteration you have chosen for yourself starts to feel comfortable in your daily routine, you should be able to focus on the next change.
Your Lifetime Commitment
To solidify the fact that you are sincere about your healthy lifestyle choice, you can write yourself a warm, encouraging letter as a reminder. In this letter, you could record how you are feeling or why you want to achieve your goal. Be specific whenever you can; for example, make a note that you want to be able to run a mile without stopping so you can join your spouse for his or her morning runs, or that you want to make healthier meal choices so you can set a solid foundation of nutritional eating for your children. Writing these words down may provide you with a momentous boost of confidence when you read them later on.If writing is simply not your thing, you can try recording your message by video instead.
If you are dedicated to the idea of visualizing your daily progress, try making this message the first entry in a progress journal or video blog. Both of these methods provide an excellent way to keep notes on your self-transformation journey. Plus, you can track what you think worked and where you would like to focus on improving. For example, if you start to notice that you do not have time to go for a 10-minute walk every morning before work, you can try to get up 20 minutes earlier each day so you can spend 10 of them walking. A modest change like this also sets the stage for you to gradually increase your goals and build on your progress.
Reaping the rewards
Now that you have finally gained momentum and are free of the unhealthy lifestyle you’ve been trying to escape, you deserve a reward. You could try treating yourself to something fabulous with all the money you saved from, say, cutting back on fast food purchases or smoking. Finding an indulgence that will support your new healthy-living routine could be an even better way to toast your accomplishments. For example, perhaps it would be meaningful to further the progression toward your goal of being able to run faster and further by buying yourself comfortable running shoes, or boost your efforts of having a more toned core by buying a few new pieces of exercise equipment like a dumbbell set, Bosu Balance Trainer, or kettlebell. Regardless of which reward you decide to give yourself, you should avoid making the reward a food-related item. This can be very counter productive to your overall progress in the long run.
Taking the time to transform your lifestyle into a healthier one can be a very rewarding and shareable journey, especially if you decide to share your journal or video blog with friends and family members. Who knows? You may even be a viral success story one day! So, feel free to get a head start on your healthy lifestyle transformation today by deciding which compelling goal you would like to aim for. Along the way, you should remember to go for any sure bet alterations that you can easily achieve. If you are in need of a pick-me-up, you can re-read your warm letter, re-watch your self-motivation videos, or talk with your family and friends for inspiration. Try to remember that although you are not alone in this journey — you’ll have plenty of support from loved ones who are eager to see your success — in order to maintain your new, healthy lifestyle for the long haul, you have to be your number one cheerleader.
Eric Johnson’s own struggles with arthritis are what inspired him to volunteer to write for USHealthCorps.org. He hopes his work on the site can help others live healthy, happy lives despite their chronic illnesses.