How To Make (And Stick To!) A Health Plan That Will Change Your Life

When New Year’s Eve rolls around, many people make the resolution to begin getting healthy, even though plans usually fall by the wayside by February. But as we age, certain health issues tend to pop up that make us serious about living a healthier lifestyle. Everything from high cholesterol to aching joints begin creeping into your everyday lifestyle, reminding you that it’s probably a good time to think about getting healthier. Making a health plan is about more than dieting — it’s about shifting your whole perspective and being motivated to become a healthier person. There are tricks you can take toward making the shift and making it stick.

 

Start Small

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People who get excited about new lifestyle changes tend to go all in at first, attempting to change everything at once. However, this approach makes it hard to stick to the plan, since it becomes overwhelming. Think about it — if someone asked you to pay off your entire mortgage in a year, you’d become overwhelmed, and the situation would seem bleak. Take the same approach to making healthier lifestyle changes. The American Psychological Association offers the following advice for setting attainable goals: “After you’ve identified realistic short-term and long-term goals, break down your goals into small, manageable steps that are specifically defined and can be measured. Is your long-term goal to lose 20 pounds within the next five months? A good weekly goal would be to lose one pound a week. If you would like to eat healthier, consider as a goal for the week replacing dessert with a healthier option, like fruit or yogurt. At the end of the week, you’ll feel successful knowing you met your goal.” Rather than attempting to go from the couch to a marathon in a week, make a weekly walking date with a friend, or commit to ten minutes of exercise a day for a week.

 

Take It One Step At A Time

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Another reason people have a hard time sticking to healthy lifestyle changes is because they try to do it all at once. Like most changes in life, healthy lifestyle changes are best taken one task at a time. Rather than trying to overhaul your entire diet and exercise routine at once, break it up into different goals. Harvard University published a blog post titled “7 Ways to Jumpstart Healthy Change In Your Life,” which states, “Pick your choice for change. Select a choice that feels like a sure bet. Do you want to eat healthier, stick to exercise, diet more effectively or ease stress? It’s best to concentrate on just one choice at a time. When a certain change fits into your life comfortably, you can then focus on the next change.”

 

Have Fun

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Many people fail to permanently implement lifestyle changes because they focus on the negative. They fixate on all of the things that they are losing by changing their lifestyle. Instead, use your choices as a chance to challenge yourself. If you’re not into exercise, incorporate it into your life through activities like sports lessons, dance classes and weekend activities such as volleyball or paddle boarding. Rather than concentrating on the foods you “can’t” eat anymore, have fun with what you can. Take a class, try new, healthier restaurants and challenge yourself to try new recipes.

Making a lifestyle change can seem daunting, especially when it comes to health. However, by taking a slow and steady approach and focusing on the positives of your new lifestyle, you increase your chances of successfully making it stick.

 

This article was written by Alaina Brandenburger of Examiner.com for CBS Local.

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