Have you ever heard the expression, "people are creatures of habit?" If you're reading this article I'm sure you have.
What does that mean though? Are all of our habits bad? The answer is no. Many people associate the word habit with a negative connotation, but there are habits that you absolutely want to create, especially when it comes to your health.
The hard part about creating a good habit is that you might have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Most humans don't like being uncomfortable so we tend to take the easy way out. We talk ourselves out of situations or make excuses when a task becomes too hard. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help create healthy habits and stick with them.
Consistency: Create the habit of showing up. It sounds simple, but it really is the most uncomfortable. Exercise can be intimidating and confusing if you don't know where to start. Find something you enjoy and it will be easier to stay consistent. Walking 2 miles, doing 20 minutes of weight training, going for a morning swim at the Y, or finding a new activity you can do with friends like biking or attending a Yoga class are just a few examples. Finding something you look forward to doing will make it easier to become routine.
Eat at home: How many times have you come home from a long day at work and said to yourself, "I just don't feel like cooking dinner tonight?" We've all felt that way, but cooking doesn't have to be hard. Making simple, healthy meals at home will not only help your waistline, it will help your bank account as well. Plus, you're much less likely to overeat and consume processed and sugary foods.
Daily decision making: A final habit that will help you reach a healthier lifestyle is changing your mindset on the little decisions that you have to make on a daily basis, such as parking in the last spot in the lot and walking a little farther into work, taking the stairs, saying no the doughnuts in the conference room and replacing that soda or energy drink in the afternoon with a big glass of water.
These things are not going to be easy at first. On average it takes 66 days of repetition to develop a habit, but by making these things routine you will be well on your way to creating great habits and making dramatic improvements in your health.
Brett Blythe leads the Group Exercise, LiveSTRONG and Silver Sneakers programs at the Jefferson City Area YMCA. He and his wife have two daughters and reside in Ashland.