For many improving health and fitness can be become a cycle of all or nothing. When there is a routine of exercise and activity and consistent nutrition then it is going well. Difficulties occur when an event or night out, a tough day at work or other life stress becomes more than a little bump in the plan. A few days later it can seem all the previous progress is gone and it is back to square one.
This is where embedding small, but significant, habits to fall back on will help feel like you can get back on track. This is also true if you are starting out in being more mindful of your health.
Whilst there are many factors we can change around health and fitness there are some that are simple and effective. Starting with a new habit that we can have success with helps create layers of success to tackle bigger changes in the long term.
To be successful change one thing at a time, for example drink 2 litres of a water a day, to keep hydrated and ensure we aren’t thirsty when we think we are hungry. Plan and prepare to do this. Get a new water bottle to keep with you through the day, this sets up your environment to maintain the habit. Next build consistency as you implement your new habit. This might mean setting a reminder in your phone to drink every 2 hours throughout the day. Tick off the days done to remind you of your progress. Finally it is easier to create a new habit if you do it with others. Encourage a colleague or family member to do it too and you are much more likely to build the new habit into being something you do consistently.
These principles can be applied to many changes to improve health and fitness. Set an alarm to go to bed early. Join a daily steps challenge through an activity tracker and set a reminder part way through the day to see your progress and plan to get the steps in. Plan weekend walks with friends to increase weekly activity.
One successful new habit can lead to another until a few add up to a significant change in lifestyle. Then, when things do go awry, the habits are there to fall back on and get you back on track without too much effort.
This article was originally published in the October Issue of Idle Talk Magazine.