5+ Tips for Adding a Healthy Habit That Sticks

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Listen to the latest Green Divas Health & Beauty segmentGreen Diva Meg and I chat about some really useful tips for developing healthier habits. Get inspired!

We’re at that point in the year when many people have let their New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside.

On the flip-side, many are starting to think about bathing suit season, and programs for “Bikini Ready Body in Six Weeks!” abound. The harmful part of these approaches to changing habits is that they are quick fixes, and often intended to be short term. If you’re going to do things that make you feel and look better, why would you want to do them temporarily?

If you want to get out of your health and wellness rut, here are a few things to consider for creating a healthy habit that sticks…

1. Why do you want to add the habit?

Is this something you want to include in your life, or something you think you should do? Is it something your partner wants you to do? Is it something you read about and think would be good for you? All of those reasons are valid, but you are more likely to stick with things with an internal motivation.

If you know why you want to do something, it can help you stay motivated. If you want to start a daily yoga practice because you want to gain strength, flexibility and greater internal calm, you have a better chance of sticking with it than if you just read that Adam Levine does it and thought it might be cool.

2. Share your intentions with a friend.create a healthy habit, juicing

Better yet, share them with a friend who will work on the same habit too. If you commit to a daily run by yourself, it’s easy to just roll over and go back to sleep when you aren’t feeling motivated. It’s much harder to back out when you know someone else is counting on you too. Choose wisely here, and pick a friend you know is committed to change as much as or more than you are.

3. Choose a positive way to frame the habit.

Our brains are funny this way. Ask a child to stop jumping on the bed and you’ll probably have to say it several times before she stops. Ask the same child to sit down, and you may get the outcome you’re looking for faster. It’s easier for us to integrate an idea like, “I want be fully present during meals,” instead of “I want to stop multitasking while I eat.” Shifting your focus to the behavior you want is a small but significant difference.

4. Place visual cues where you see them often.

A bedroom or bathroom mirror, bulletin board or the refrigerator are all great places for this. When I first started shifting to a daily yoga practice, keeping my mat and a favorite quote about yoga where I would see them when I first woke up was a huge help. There are also plenty of apps designed for this purpose, especially for fitness-related habits, but using something simple like an alert on Google calendar works well too.

5. Treat it like an experiment.

I am the master of trying something for a day and a half and deciding I hate it. Or at least I used to be. Now, if I want to do something new, I try to approach it with curiosity instead of commitment. What would it be like if I didn’t drink coffee? What would it be like if I started unplugging earlier at night?Coffee

If you treat these things as experiments instead of something that must be adhered to—or else!—that inner rebel that kicks in and immediately wants to quit takes a break. Treating it as an experiment helps because we aren’t treating it as pass/fail. You might experiment with being vegan only to find it isn’t a good fit for you. This isn’t a failure—it’s a learning experience. When you experiment, you find what habits work best for you and can move towards incorporating them permanently.

A few more tips:

If you can keep it up for 30 days, studies shows you are more likely to make it permanent.

For women: let your hormones work in your favor instead of fighting them; it’s much easier to change an eating habit if you start the week after your period than the week before.

Consider making a habit “swap.” If you are taking one thing away, add something else. In my Juice Every Damn Day group on Facebook, we’re doing a May Renovation project where we have each chosen to add a positive habit and drop a negative one. For me, this means I’ve been adding three days a week of high intensity intervals and 100 burpees a day to my yoga practice, and unplugging earlier at night.

If you decide to do a habit swap, stop by and tell us how it’s going!

Image via shutterstock.

About the author / 

Green Diva Kate

Kate Bartolotta is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal and The Good Men Project. She is determined to change the world—one blog at a time. Connect with Kate on Twitter, Facebook and Google +.

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