Goals are great when planning for the future but habits are highly effective NOW. It is easy to lose sight of a goal when it is too far in the distance, but creating new habits requires action every day which means you are more likely to maintain your focus. The actions may start out small, such as a 5min walk after dinner, but as long as it becomes a natural habit and not a forced habit, your goal will be naturally achieved.
Below are some simple habits that you can adopt straight away;
1. INVEST IN SELF-ANALYSIS
You are your own biggest and most important asset. There is no point being wealthy and successful if you are not healthy or happy enough to enjoy the fruits of your labour. The investment required may be a financial investment or it may be as simple as giving yourself time to do something you enjoy. Enrol in the course you have been interested in, learn a hobby, pick up the guitar you haven’t touched for years, read more book, hire a personal trainer or health coach, invest in high quality wholefoods (surely, we can’t value the price of our food over its nutritional quality?), play a team sport, adjust your working hours to give you a little extra free time each week, attend yoga classes, make time to meditate- you get the idea! There is a great quote by Dorothy Day that says ‘Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.’ Don’t wait for the right time to do things that fill you up and make you happy.
The right time is now.
2. SPRING CLEAN YOUR FRIDGE AND PANTRY
Go through all the food in your pantry and fridge and throw away everything that is not serving your health. Don’t wait until it is finished, throw it out TODAY. There is no time like the present moment to take action when it comes to improving your health. Remove any foods that are not providing you and your family with the nutrition they need to perform at their best and keep illness and disease at bay. The reality is that if it is not there you will not eat it. I grew up 3hrs from a McDonalds restaurant so there was never any temptation to eat it. The same theory applies to the chips and biscuits in your pantry. Invest in some quality wholefoods cookbooks and PRACTICE. If eating healthy is a new skill for you, you can’t expect it to happen straight away. You must practice your organisation, preparation and cooking. It won’t be easy but the results will well outweigh the effort.
Keep in mind that commercial diets are not the long-term answer to a happy and healthier lifestyle and never will be. Eating fresh wholefoods that make you feel good long after eating them are the key to sustained good health.
3. REPLACE SEDENTARY HABITS WITH ACTIVE ONES
The modern lifestyle requires us to sit a lot, get places quickly and do things efficiently. For most Australian adults, these things are a daily reality and do not bode well for adequate movement for optimal health and fitness. If this is a challenge you face you can make some very small changes that can add up to big health improvements. These could be things such as getting access to a higher desk so you can stand at the computer instead of sitting for long periods at a time, when possible, walking or riding your bike instead of driving, parking further away from your destination, spending more time outdoors where you are more likely to be tempted by active pastimes instead of sitting on the lounge inside (the fresh air and Vitamin D from the sun will also do you wonders) and hiding gadgets that encourage you to sit still (such as phones, iPads, remote controls etc.) from yourself (I do this with the kids). Out of sight out of mind as they say!
4. WHEN IT COMES TO EXERCISE, CHOOSE WHAT YOU LOVES
Choose what you love- Choose your favourite activity and not just what you think you need. Many new years resolutions in relation to exercise start with plans such as ‘joining the gym’ only to end up in a nice donation for gym owner. This is usually because the person doesn’t actually like going to the gym but they are doing it because they think it will be the answer to their weight or health issues. This is not sustainable nor is it healthy to be doing something that you dislike every day. Instead, choose things that you enjoy, that make your happy as well as getting you moving. Maybe you could get a group of friends together to play tennis, take dance classes, go cycling or bushwalking or play a sport that you loved as a kid but haven’t done for years because of ‘life’. You will be much more likely to stuck to it longer and form great habits in the process. Right down the top 5 forms of exercise you enjoy or did enjoy in the past and get back into them TODAY.
5. CREATE POSITIVE SLEEPING HABITS
All the tips above are insignificant if we are not getting adequate rest. We all know its importance and it is something we’ve been doing since we were born, yet good quality sleep is something that eludes many people. Create good sleep habits for yourself using the following tips…
• Turn off technology an hour before bed. The ‘blue’ backlight on most computers and mobile devices affects our body’s ability to produce the sleep hormone which means it takes us much longer to relax and nod off.
• Never sleep with your phone by your bed. Not only is it a distraction if you are getting messages and notifications but research suggests that the light and radiation from the phone also affects the body’s capacity to produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
• Develop relaxing habits before you go to bed. Try things such as gentle stretching, drinking herbal tea (ditch the late night coffee or caffeinated tea), having a warm bath or shower or reading. Choose what you enjoy and what works well for you.
• Keep your bedroom well ventilated, dark and cool. Studies show that you will stay in deep sleep much longer when the body is cool.
• Set yourself a 2 week challenge to go to bed an hour earlier each night and then get up an hour earlier each morning. Use that hour in the morning for quiet time just for yourself. You may choose to exercise, read, meditate, walk the dog, get your to-do lists organised for the day, do yoga- the options are limitless and the beauty of that extra hour in the morning is that it is a time when the world is quiet and you are rested. It is a rare person who does not feel better throughout the day after making this a daily habit. Remember that saying ‘I’m not a morning person’ is a mindset and can be easily changed. Change the mindset and the behaviour will follow.