It is so easy to say to ourselves, “doggone it, I’m going to stop doing you-fill-in-the-blank“, or “that’s it…I’m going to start you-fill-in-the-blank today!” The words come out of our mouth and we are very sincere when we say them, but it is SO hard to actually form that new healthy habit, or break that nasty habit that we know is hurting our health and well being.
As we age, we tend to become more set in our ways. It’s difficult to change behaviors, patterns, and perspectives, too. With wisdom comes a dose of stubbornness!
The clock is ticking, girls and every day is a gift. It’s in our best interest to develop healthy behaviors, nurture them, give them priority in our lives, and live in a way that will foster health and fitness. These 10 healthy behaviors will set you on the right path.
As women over 50 we need to pay particular attention to the lifestyle habits that can add years to our life, or take them away if we’re not mindful of our actions, patterns, and habits.
Bottom line is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will do it for us. And I can’t speak for you, but I am working hard to keep my body fit, strong and healthy so that no one has to care for me as I age.
What is a habit? Well, it is a behavior (positive or not so much) that is repeated often enough so that over time, less conscious thought is required to make it happen. Cues in the environment trigger the behavior as an automatic response.
How long does it take a habit to form and become more automatic? There are different theories and studies, but one study published in 2010 indicated that it takes on average 66 days for a new habit to become automatic, sometimes much longer.
In addition, consistent repetition of the desired habit early on in the process was shown to be more effective in creating an automatic action.
What does this mean to us? It’s no revelation to say that creating a new healthy behavior and sticking with it is not easy. I can find many ways, means, and really creative excuses to talk myself out of doing something!
Repetition, commitment and having A PLAN will go far in helping us, so let’s look at the best 10 healthy behaviors to create a positive habit in our lives.
I have a free printable for you to use as a reference, and I hope you keep it handy! More on that below. Also, Pin the Infographic in the post and refer to it often! That is how important these 10 healthy behaviors are to forming healthy habits.
How to Form a New Habit with 10 Healthy Behaviors
1 | Acknowledge that something needs to change
This is so important to any change of behavior. We have to be honest, really honest, with ourselves about the fact that it’s time for a modification. It really doesn’t matter what the change or desired outcome is, everything begins here.
If you’re not convinced that change is needed and why, you probably won’t stick with the plan and ultimately you’ll not be successful in creating that new healthy habit.
2 | Select One Healthy Habit at a Time as a Goal
I want to do it all now. That’s me. Get it all done at one time and move on to the next thing.
But, silly me, life isn’t like that and neither are we. Think back to a time when you were multi-tasking, juggling a number of deadlines or appointments, trying to do it all and be all. Even with the best of intentions we just won’t get it all done right.
And changing/creating a new healthy habit is no different, my friends.
To ensure success, select one, just one thing you want to change or adapt, and give it your all.
3 | Be specific
Not specific: I want to eat healthier.
Specific: I am going to eat 2 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
See the difference? How will you know that you’re eating healthier if you don’t have anything specific to measure the change in behavior?
Once you’ve identified the goal or behavior that you want to become a new healthy habit in your life, hone it down to the most specific form possible. And that leads us to the next step in our plan.
4 | Write down the healthy behavior you want to form
For me, there’s nothing like having something in black and white in front of my little nose every day. It’s a constant reminder of what I need to do, or where I need to go, or that task that is due for completion, or that gift I need to buy.
Whatever the reason, putting it in writing makes it real, tangible and gives it a sense of urgency.
The same is true for our commitment to ourselves to form a new healthy habit. A critical part of the plan is the written commitment. You don’t have to display it to the world. Keep in in a private place that is for your eyes only. But write it down.
5 | Be realistic in your timeframe
Nothing will deflate your enthusiasm and commitment to forming a new healthy habit quicker than the feeling of failure. Setting an unrealistic time frame will get you to that point pretty quickly.
Be thoughtful and careful when setting a goal for ‘success’, keeping in mind what was discussed above about how long it can take to make a new habit part of your life.
Actually, success comes when this healthy activity becomes so automatic that you don’t even think about it anymore, you just do it.
Grab the Printable, 10 Healthy Behaviors, from the Resource Library and keep it handy!
6 | Understand what will trip you up and hinder your success
Think about the behavior or habit that you want to become part of your life. Then, ponder what will get in the way of actually doing it.
If, for example, the goal is to create healthy eating habits, take a look at the grocery list and see what’s on it that might keep you from success.
Or, where do you like to dine out and what do you typically order? If your go-to meal is less than healthy, you might want to change the venue, at least for a while.
This is, after all, A PLAN, which means that you plan ahead and give yourself the best opportunity for success.
Who knows? After some time passes your go-to restaurant and meal might be totally different than in the past, but seem ‘normal’ to you now because of your new healthy habit. See how this works?
7 | Practice affirmations and positive self-feedback
One powerful way to succeed in creating new healthy habits is to use our brain to change how we think….to rewire our brain, so to speak.
It’s easier for young ones than mature adults to do this because we are so accustomed to our ‘old’ thoughts.
Using positive affirmations that relate to your desired healthy habit is an effective way to rewire those old thoughts.
For example, if you’re working toward developing a habit related to healthy eating, you might recite affirmations like these:
- I believe I can lose weight
- There is no need for rich or sugary foods
- I have the power to control my weight through healthy eating and exercise
Be gentle and forgiving with yourself when things don’t go as planned on a particular day, or week, or when those uncontrollable events happen in life. Move past it and start fresh in the morning. Every day is a new day!
PIN ME FOR REFERENCE!
8 | Monitor your progress
It would be nice if everything we set a goal to accomplish, every healthy habit we decided to create, happened. The first time. Easily.
But, this is life on planet Earth, and as human beings, it doesn’t happen that simply or easily. Not when we’re changing our behaviors, patterns, and habits as women in our 50’s and 60’s.
So, as you are working toward creating a healthy habit, along with setting a timeframe comes tracking your progress. It might feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back. I know that feeling very well!
The key is to monitor your progress but not let it discourage you if the forward movement is not where you’d hoped it would be.
Allow for the realities of life that can get in the way, remember those positive affirmations, and always move forward. But, keep the periodic tracking in place.
9 | Reward yourself in a healthy way
We all like to be recognized for our accomplishments, and giving yourself a pat on the back when you see your healthy habit becoming a part of your daily life is no exception.
You might even decide in advance what your ‘reward’ will be when that new behavior is up and running, so you have something extra to work toward.
Remember to keep the reward on the same healthy path as your new habit or behavior. For example, if you’ve worked very hard to create healthier eating habits, a reward of eating pizza for dinner every night for a week might be counterproductive.
How about enjoying a couple of slices of your favorite pizza one evening, instead? With a glass of your favorite wine, too. 🙂
10 | Don’t give up!
Change is hard. It’s even more difficult as we get older. Our bodies (and sometimes our minds) just don’t want to cooperate.
So don’t give up; don’t give in to the desire to say, “I can’t”, or “It’s not worth it”. You are worth it.
Keep these 10 healthy behaviors where you can see them. Practice the affirmations and positive self-feedback. Write down your healthy habit goals and monitor the progress of them.
You CAN create healthy habits that stick, and ultimately give yourself the opportunity to live a longer, happier life.