So, it’s the end of January. Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Did you start a 30/60/90 day workout routine? Or are you participating in our January Sobriety Challenge? Maybe it’s been a tough month and all you’re working towards is getting to February 1st, when you can forget this “new year stuff” and get back to normal. Regardless of what you’ve done with your January, you’re probably working on improving your life in some way. If you’ve pushed yourself for the last four weeks you might be wondering, “How the hell am I going to keep this up all year?”. It’s all well and good to do something for 30 days, but what about for 365?
“How the hell am I going to keep this up all year?”
Listen, you’re not alone. I wonder the same thing all the time. It seems really overwhelming to think of yourself as someone who is going to eat salads and soup for an entire year, not to mention for the rest of your life! How do you create a healthy eating habit that’s sustainable? One that won’t feel like a burden on your life, but instead a part you celebrate and enjoy? I’m going to say this right now – it’s not easy! But, I believe it’s better to take action than doing nothing at all.
In my latest post, I discuss the importance of breaking habits that are harmful to your health and well-being. As many of you know, I have previously struggled with habitually picking up fast food when I’m out running errands. Something about driving around makes me crave those salty McDonald’s french fries. One way that I’ve learned to ditch this bad habit is by replacing it with a healthy habit that makes me feel good about myself. It’s not always easy to do, but if you have the right framework (and mindset), it is possible!
Let’s create a healthy habit together. I want you to visualize one thing that you wish you would do more often, but have yet to do so consistently. Maybe you want to make it to the gym more often, or go on daily walks with your dog, or drink more tea, or read a book before bed every night! Whatever the habit is, visualize it in your mind’s eye.
Now that you know the habit that you want to create, let’s work backwards to develop the essential milestones that will allow you to plan and sustain your healthy habit. The first step in doing this is deciding when you want your habit to be 100% in effect. It is impractical to say, “Today will be the last day that I ever buy fast food for lunch again!” (after you’ve purchased fast food three times per week for the last year).
For me, my ultimate goal was to create a healthy habit around lunchtime meals and I wanted to accomplish this in about 3 months. Since I’m often driving in my car around, it is really difficult for me to pack a lunch and therefore it is really easy for me to find myself picking something up. My end goal was eating fast food once a month and packing my meals the rest of the time. That’s 249 lunches in a year. WHEW.
Once I knew my goal, I created milestones that would lead me to success.
- For two weeks, I will eat out at my favorite fast food places twice a week for lunch. I started with an attainable milestone because I knew that if I quit “cold turkey” I’d just end up hangry and ordering something anyways. No one likes me when I’m hangry!
- For four weeks, I will have one fast food meal every other week. I will also prepare two lunches per week. Okay, I felt good about this milestone because I not only cut back, but I also added something new. I knew if I tried to cut out one thing completely and immediately replace it with a healthy habit that I would fail. Especially since I’d try to convince myself to eat salads while on the road. I’d end up with a lot of thrown out spinach.
- I will cut out fast food completely for 3 weeks by trying out different meals each week that are “on the go” friendly. It’s just 15 days, but who’s counting? Once I felt I had a good handle on making my own lunches, and it was something I would actually eat, I wanted to cement this habit.
- Goal reached! By January 2020, I have stopped relying on fast food to satiate my lunchtime hunger. I prepare different meals each week that are “on the go” friendly for my work day. I am happy if I get fast food once a month on the road.
As you can see, I started my journey in October and met my goal in January. That’s 4 months to work on a habit I know I will have for life. And I’m confident I will make and eat my homemade lunches and I’m okay allowing myself to deviate knowing that I have created a habit and have not succumbed to a diet.
Diets are quick, “easy”, and require little effort from you. However, creating a habit requires a lot of work and intentionality. Once you have your end goal in mind, map out your milestones, and create an unstoppable healthy habit in your life! Ask yourself — what is holding you back from creating a sustainable healthy habit that will help you live your best life?
I’m just like you. My life can be hectic and cooking, cleaning and getting that workout in are sometimes the last thing on my mind. But, I’m here to share my tips and tricks on how to make adulting a little more enjoyable.