“People often say that motivation doesn’t last,” said Zig Ziglar. “Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” Most of us have things about ourselves we’d like to improve. A healthy lifestyle is no exception. This desire can come from wanting to change the way we look or feel, or heeding a doctor’s warning.
“Practicing preventative measures for maintaining good health is a habit you never outgrow,” said Liz Jacobsen, team lead at Lake Ridge Senior Living. “Whether it is getting regular checkups, adjusting diet, increasing exercise or eliminating harmful habits, healthy living starts with adopting healthy habits.”
When it comes to creating lasting changes in our health, we often fall into the trap of making ambitious goals that we expect to easily accomplish. After about two weeks, many of us find ourselves slipping back into old habits and forgetting why we wanted to make those changes in the first place. Sound familiar?
I’ve found as I’ve incorporated the tips below into my goal setting, I’m much more motivated long term.
Determine Why You’re Doing It
Why do you want it? It’s hard to stick to goals when you don’t know why you set them in the first place. Try writing down your reasons on a notecard and putting it on your mirror. Here are a few questions to help determine why a goal is important to you:
- Why do you want to set this goal?
- What will happen when you accomplish it or make it a habit?
- How does this bring you closer to the person you want to be?
- How will this goal improve your life?
Setting health goals is tough, but pursuing them without a purpose is even harder. Make these goals personal. When you feel like slacking, remind yourself that you committed to these lifestyle changes for good reason.
Stock Your Fridge
If diet is your main focus, don’t leave your fridge to chance. If you aren’t stocking up on healthy foods you enjoy, then you’re more likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks or overeat trying to satisfy a craving through other foods. Stay motivated by making a meal plan and having things like nuts, berries, and veggies on hand. “When you have the right snacks available, you can curb cravings and provide vital nutrients to support fitness gains,” says Bodybuilding.com.
Schedule Your Exercise
I once heard that you should schedule your workouts like you schedule your doctor appointments; don’t let other to-dos, phone calls or appointments get in the way of this time. Even if you can’t exercise at the same time daily, be sure to include it when you plan each day. Then you’ll have time to mentally prepare and won’t cut your time short.
Mark Your Calendar
Another fun way to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle is to see your progress over time. Put a calendar on your wall or use a planner and write an “X” on days you stick to your goals, whether it’s going all day with no sugar, drinking more water, sleeping longer or taking your vitamins. Seeing your own consistency will make you think twice about skipping the next day.
Take Progress Photos
Sometimes it’s hard to see whether or not you’ve made progress, especially when it’s so gradual. Take regular progress photos to prove to yourself how far you’ve come, stay motivated, and track your progress over time. Schedule it into your calendar each month so you don’t forget. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve progressed when you look in the mirror, you can’t deny the changes you see in a photo when comparing it to another. This is great for weight goals, skincare or hair health/length.
Write in a Journal
Journaling is another great way to track your progress and stay committed. Keep a food log to stay accountable for what you eat each day, record how you feel as you implement healthy habits, and reflect on why you continue to work on these goals. Try posting your progress pictures in your journal so you can read about and see how far you’ve come. “Being able to physically write your goals for the year and track the action steps that are being taken toward them is a sure path to success,” says Matt Mayberry, CEO of Matt Mayberry Enterprises.
Do you ever flip the TV channel and come across one of Nike’s motivational ads? Those always make me want to put on my running shoes and pound some pavement! If you scroll through Instagram or Pinterest on a regular basis, follow fitness bloggers and healthy lifestyle advocates. Then motivating and uplifting content will always be at your fingertips.
Making healthy lifestyle changes takes dedication, but you can do it! Use these tips to keep you on track and make those goals turn into habits.
This article was previously published by the Herald Extra and republished here with permission.