I’m just going to put it straight out there: Motivation is hard. Whether it’s to finish that project, have a spring clean, or book that appointment you’ve been meaning to get around to for weeks (just me?). When it comes to our health, we’re bombarded with things that we “should” be doing, and all the people doing them often make it look easy. Let me tell you: it’s NOT easy. I consider myself a relatively healthy person, but like most people, I really have to push myself to be motivated to make healthy choices. Anyone who tells you they don’t is either lying or some sort of goddess whose powers I want!
So here’s a few tricks I use to try to make healthy choices more of a habit and less of a chore:
Everything in moderation
I know this gets bandied around a fair bit, but I live by this one. I HATE diets. Yes, they can be great tools to kickstart healthy habits but they can also cause you to obsess over what you’ve cut out, and they’re just not sustainable. I’m all about not depriving yourself, but not over-doing it either. Having one biscuit instead of five? Perfectly do-able. Next time you’re at dinner and can’t choose between two desserts? Pick the slightly healthier one and maybe split it with a friend. Eventually you won’t even have to think about it.
Find healthier alternatives
This one can be a bit tough because there’s so much conflicting information out there. Personally, I think its about finding what works for you and making changes a little at a time. So for me it was about chocolate and cakes. I’ve given them up for 40 days before and been fine, but (à la the diets mentioned above) as soon as I started eating them again I’d go overboard. My idea: try switching to dark chocolate. Before you roll your eyes the same way I would’ve a year ago, hear me out. I was never that keen on dark chocolate and always had a bad sweet tooth, but I heard it was supposedly better for you. I started having a square in the evening when I wanted a dessert or something sweet. Cut to a year later, and lots of taste tests of different brands, and I actually find milk chocolate too sweet!
Work in an office and can barely keep your eyes open at the end of the day? Running a marathon probably isn’t the best goal to set for yourself. It’s just too big a leap and can make you feel like you’re not making progress when it’s so far away. I’m terrible about comparing myself to others, so I really do know that it’s hard not to feel like your goals are “too small.” But everyone really does have to start somewhere. And that somewhere is always different. So instead of aiming for that marathon, try swapping lifts for the stairs wherever you go. It sounds like a small thing, but you’ll be getting extra movement into your day and can gradually build up from there.
One step at a time
Imagine trying to remember 12 things from your to-do list at once. You can’t. So why keep trying to convince yourself committing to 12 new habits would be any easier? It’s good to have goals of things that you’d love to do daily or each week, but don’t try to start them all at once. It’s just too much. Try one or two habits to kick things off and once you’re a bit more comfortable with them, throw another one in.
Don’t be too tough on yourself
Full disclosure: I struggle with this one a lot. My boyfriend constantly gets annoyed at me for beating myself up over things, and to be fair, he’s right. The truth is, one day of excess, or skipping the gym, or lying on the sofa isn’t going to upset all your habits. After all, by the time you’ve taken some of these little steps, even your day of excess is probably better than where you started!
One thing to remember when creating healthy habits: find what’s best for you, and your life, not for anyone else’s!
What tips do you have for making healthy habits a breeze? Share with us in the comments!