goal setting stick with habits

6 Secrets on How to Make Healthy Habits Stick

make habits stick

Do you have healthy habits in place in order to achieve your holistic health goals?

No matter what your goals, holistic living or otherwise, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to reach them and stick with them if you cannot master a few simple healthy habits. Good healthy habits are the key to long-term success.

If you’ve read a few of my posts, Start Here page or just my tagline, you may have noticed the goal of this blog isn’t simply a generic “holistic health” focus or even just “holistic health inspiration.” I aim to go a step further by bringing you simple, actionable steps you can quickly incorporate right now to begin (or continue) to lead a healthy, holistic, and fit life.

But a realization occurred to me – what if my readers are unclear as to how to implement and (probably even more likely) stick with healthy daily habits in the first place? What good do my health tips do them?

You can have all the information in the world on healthy living at your fingertips (and we do – thanks, interwebs!), but it won’t do you a lick of good unless you put what you learn into action.

 

So how do we do that? How do we turn “I think I want to start juicing” or “I need to clean up my diet” or “I should really start exercising regularly,” into a plan of action that actually works?

Scratch that, let’s take it a step further, that actually works year after year after year after year through illness, long work hours, social functions (that I swear are designed by the give-up gods themselves to derail you…), the birth of children, vacations, unexpected events and your own lack of motivation?

In other words, how do we go from merely thinking to doing?

And from doing, not once or twice, but for a lifetime?

Where do we start and what do we do if we’re stuck or struggling?

Knowing what to do, isn’t enough to make you do it

When I first began my own journey into living a holistic lifestyle, including cleaning up my SAD diet and getting fit, I had many unhealthy habits I had to overcome. Like most people, I knew what I was doing wasn’t working for me, I had the extra weight, acne, IBS, sleepless nights, anxiety, and body dysmorphia to prove it.

I knew the basics of healthy living – “eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, drink enough water, manage your stress, and find time for yourself.”

Pssh, easy peasy, right?

So I started exercise programs that fell off after a couple of weeks (or worse, became addictive – yep, that happened once) and calorie restrictive diets that ended as soon as the big event I was dieting for was over. I lost 5 lbs and gained 10 more. Instead of looking at my body with love for bringing two healthy children into this world, all I could see were stretch marks and a squishy tummy.

The frustration built up until I figured, maybe this whole healthy living thing isn’t for me, maybe I just can’t do it. I guess my willpower and ability to be balanced isn’t as strong as other people’s.

Find accountability

It wasn’t until I started seeing a naturopathic doctor that the pieces finally started to click and fall into place. Having a clear plan of action, accountability and monthly motivation via my appointments were the big enough catalysts I needed to truly set this healthy lifestyle in motion.

At last, the weight began to melt off, the acne cleared, the digestive issues eased, the brain fog lifted and my energy skyrocketed. I was finally able to look at my body as a friend rather than foe.

Still, there was a catch or two – I couldn’t take my natural doctor home with me to give me advice and motivation 24/7 (dang it). Not only that but at times our budget didn’t always allow me to keep up my regular appointments. I sometimes had to go several months at a stretch with no appointments at all.

During those times I was on my own.

I had to learn how to put my newfound knowledge into sustainable action – action that would keep up my momentum no matter what.

How to overcome mental blocks and develop healthy habits

It’s all about healthy HABITS!

Friends have asked me, “What do you do to keep living like this year after year?” and “How do you start (eating plant-based, exercising, cutting out sugar) and actually like it?”

Looking back I realize that what got me to this place over the course of several years is a set of non-negotiable healthy habits which, at this point in my life, operate on autopilot.

I figured these things out slowly (probably painfully so) on my own. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I was instilling sustainable habits using psychological tips and tricks to make them stick.

All I knew was that I had a few main goals I was absolutely going to achieve no matter what: low or no sugar and gluten, drink a green smoothie or juice at home or eat a salad with dinner every day (bonus points if I did all three), exercise for at least 20 minutes 4x per week, drink 64oz of water per day.

At this point in my journey, I typically do more (like using all-natural or organic products throughout my home, taking high-quality supplements, caring for my mental health and more). But even when life is crazy busy and hectic, these are still the things I manage to do every day.

How?

Here are a few “secrets” I’ve learned over the years to sticking with any new healthy habit and slaying my goals.

healthy habits

3 things you MUST do

Find your why

WHY do you want to set up these healthy habits and reach this goal? What are you hoping to accomplish long term? How do hope this will make you FEEL?

Everything you want in life (everything and anything!) is based on how you think getting this thing will make you feel. Will it bring satisfaction, pride, relief, fun, freedom, fulfillment, happiness?

Sit down and think deeply about this. Getting clear on your why for developing healthy habits will pave the way for continued motivation to reaching your goal.

Get super specific

Deciding “I want to eat better” or “I want to exercise more” isn’t entirely useful. If you don’t have a clear picture what it is you want to achieve (see reason #1 above) and what action steps you need to take, it’s less likely you’ll take any action at all.

Sure, the above “goals” or intentions can motivate you for a minute to put something healthy into your mouth or get off your butt for a second, but I’m guessing you want more than that. Inconsistency is the killer of successful goal achievement. Sporadic actions will make it take much longer to reach your goal.

You need specific, actionable and consistent daily habits. So break down this goal into exactly what you need to do each day or week. As in, “I will eat at least x servings of fruits and vegetables per day” or “I will exercise for at least x minutes per day on x days of the week.” Make it easier on your brain to wrap itself around by giving yourself bite-sized mini-goals (aka daily healthy habits!).

Intentions are great but actions are better!

Write down your goal

Simply thinking in your head what you want to achieve isn’t enough to get the ball rolling. (I don’t know about your brain space but mine is often a cluttered cacophony of to-do lists, appointments, feelings about what’s going on in my life, various ideas, fears and dreams, concerns about my children, and of course, deciding what I’m going to eat next – all competing for my attention!).

Get your goal out of your head and onto paper. With the end goal in mind, work backward and map out specific daily habits you can implement on your journey to reaching this ultimate goal.

3 reasons you fail to reach your goals

You rely solely on motivation

As with intention, external motivation can be a fleeting thing. It’s great for lighting the initial spark of momentum but this forward propulsion is usually temporary. This is often why so many New Year’s goals fail!

Don’t get me wrong, motivation is still important and can be a useful tool in getting the ball rolling on your wellness goals. But to make it work for you over the long run, you’ll need to continue feeding that flame. If you don’t, you may quickly stop “feeling” like continuing and will stop striving to achieve your goal.

A much better approach is to set regular daily habits. Pick no more than 3 things to work on at a time. Be specific about what these actions are. Decide when, how and even where you will do these things.

You plan but never take action

Getting specific, writing down your goals and deciding on your daily habits is extremely important. But I know from personal experience that it’s very easy to fall into the perpetual planning trap. We write everything down, we know our “why,” maybe we’re even really excited and then . . . we do nothing. All our best plans sit there in a notebook, document or planner to be forgotten and abandoned.

Why is this?

Often we tell ourselves we’ll do something when we have more information on a topic, when we feel “ready” or when our circumstances are “just right.” Of course, that point in time never comes and we end up failing to achieve anything.

This subconscious resistance usually stems from fear and limiting beliefs. We’re afraid of failure or we may even be afraid of success (yes!). It could be we secretly think it’s impossible for us or it’s “too hard.”

I’ve personally found that changing my mindset is the first step to being able to achieve a goal, health-related or otherwise.

Can you achieve a goal and still be afraid and unsure? Of course! (That’s called courage by the way.) Uncertainty is totally normal, most of us experience this.

But we can make it so much easier on ourselves when we take a few moments to acknowledge these fears and address them rather than force our way through or ignore them. That’s courage too ?

You’re not fully committed

As the queen of planning, I find the very process of mapping out a goal to be fun and fulfilling. As in “oooh a pretty new planner and fun pens, let’s get this party started!” But that doesn’t mean I’m truly committed to the outcome.

My desire for that outcome, my why, has to be strong enough to get me started and keep me going. My limiting beliefs, fears, and mental roadblocks must be cleared away.

One technique I’ve learned that helps immensely with clearing these mental energy block is EFT tapping. You can read more about it in this post: Get Unstuck and Start Manifesting With This Simple Psychological Hack.

What about you? Are you stuck or struggling to reach your health and wellness goals? Are you not sure where to begin or frustrated with your own lack of follow through?

Download my free Healthy Habits Toolkit! This planning blueprint takes you step-by-step in mapping out your goal. Uncover limiting beliefs or roadblocks (both internal and external) you may have around reaching your goal so that you can get unstuck and start manifesting your healthiest self!

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