Making lifestyle changes is not simple. Old habits die hard, and sometimes what we want to do is not always the most fun. Like eating more fiber or doing increasingly intense CrossFit workouts? Not exactly thrilling. Good habits become fun once you get into them, but getting into them is so hard. Sometimes us flakier folks need tips and tricks to stick to a healthy habit.
The truth is, it’s not impossible to make changes.
But some people have more will power and self control than others, so sticking to new routines or eating habits comes easier. Don’t feel bad if you tend to give up on your resolutions before you hit the finish line — tons of us do. You just need a little more help and reminders to make it happen.
Here are some tried and true ways to stick to a healthy habit when you’re afraid you might throw in the towel too early.
1Don’t go wild with changes.
The first trick to sticking to healthy habits is setting attainable goals. You’re not going to become a totally different person overnight, so don’t overload yourself. Be really honest with yourself about what you think you can actually accomplish and handle as you make lifestyle changes. If you set yourself up for failure, you’re going to get frustrated pretty fast.
2Be really specific.
If you’re still struggling with sticking to your new goals, you might not be being specific enough. So let’s say your goal is to “lose weight.” That’s not going to work. How are you going to do that? Instead, something like “no more late-night tacos” or “do one hour of some kind of exercise every day” will work so much better. You want to get very real about the little tweaks you can make to get what you want, whatever it is.
3Track your progress.
Once you have all of your very specific, realistically attainable intentions in mind, it’s time to figure out how to hold yourself accountable. You can do this in a few ways. One way is to make a special, separate calendar or grid with all of your daily goals on it. At the end of the day, you can mark off what you did and what you didn’t, sort of like those cheesy chore calendars they used to have in elementary school. You’ll get a little rush when you give yourself a sticker, seriously. And you’ll be able to see right away which goals you’re not keeping up with up and make it even more specific. You’ll be able to spot your problem areas right away.
If you really aren’t good at making it to yoga every time you really, really, really want to or hitting bed at a reasonable hour, you might have to bribe yourself. If you can do it easily, transfer $5 to your savings or PayPal account every time you do The Thing you’re trying to do or just put money in a jar. You’re not making any money, but you’ll have some savings to reward yourself later on.
For some people, money and endorphins just don’t work. In that case, enlist the help of every technological resource at your disposal. There are literally apps for everything. Use one to quit smoking, track your meals, and document your workouts. Take an hour at the beginning of each week and set up crazy reminders and alarms across your calendars and devices. Make it so that you seriously can’t forget to practice self care.
6Plan ahead so you stick to it.
A lot of times we can help ourselves. You can’t expect to change your eating habits if you don’t stock up on groceries, first right? If your plan is to drink more water, fill up a bunch of recycled water bottles and stick them in the fridge. Take time on the weekend to meal prep so you can bring your lunch to work. Make a plan for what you’ll do when you’re tempted so you don’t cave to your lesser instincts on the fly.