Changing or adding anything to your daily routine can put stress on not only your time, but most of all, on your mind and body. That is why, at first, creating a healthier lifestyle can seem like more of a burden than a benefit. It is important to create a plan for success to remind you not only of where you want your health to be tomorrow, but how it is today so that you can keep your health priorities in check if you lose motivation later down the road.
****Grab a piece of paper and a pen/pencil.***
- Write your name and the date at the top of the paper.
- Write down the top 3 to 5 unhealthy habits you engage in most days of the week. This could include skipping meals, drinking regular cola, or non-food related habits such as not exercising, smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages too often, or not getting enough sleep.
- Below this list, write the top 3 reasons why you think you engage in these unhealthy habits ("Stress" "Lack of motivation" "Time").
- Next to each reason, list a way you could overcome such an obstacle. For example, for stress, if it stems from a financial reason, relationship, or work situation, find ways to resolve the particular stress. For financial reasons, create a budget, cut out unnecessary expenses such as eating out or going on vacations, have a yard sale, or talk with a financial advisor that can get you on track.
- Below these habits, list 3 overall health goals that you would like to accomplish in the next 3 months. Goals must be specific and realistic. Examples of goals could include: "I want to walk/run a 5K in 3 months" "I want to lose 15 lbs. in the next 3 months" "I want to lower my blood pressure 10 points"
- Next, list the top 3 reasons you want to lose weight/get healthy. When you face obstacles, these reasons will remind you why you started this healthy lifestyle journey to begin with.
- Each week, you will create a short-term goal for yourself to accomplish that will bring you closer to your 3-month goals ("Eat at least 3 fruits and vegetables each day" "Exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days this week" "Replace regular soda with a calorie-free beverage").
- Every 2 weeks, check on your progress to see how much progress you are making towards your goals. If you reach obstacles, sit down and create a plan for overcoming those obstacles. Stop bringing money to work so you cannot get a soda from the vending machine, get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning so you can work out, or prepare healthy snacks in the evening to take with you to work if you tend to snack on candy at work.
- If stress is causing you to engage in unhealthy habits, go back to your list you created at the start of the 3-month period and see if you followed through with resolving those stressors that were most affecting you. If they ended up by the wayside, get back in the game of resolving your stress since progress in your healthy lifestyle journey will be that much harder if you avoid resolving the emotional issues behind your unhealthy behaviors.
Make new goals every 3 months. There is always room for improvement, and with frequent accountability of our behaviors, we are less likely to revert back to old unhealthy habits!