How to create a health regime that you’ll actually stick to

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We all know the basics; we are fully aware that we should be drinking more water, exercising more, eating a more balanced diet and cutting back on alcohol. We understand the health benefits and would love to feel and look more radiant. However, real life often gets in the way of even the best intentions and before we know it we’re slipping back into old habits. How do you adopt a new health regime and stick to it?

Set realistic goals

Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a habit, and if you really want to strengthen this habit then it may take a little longer. Meaning that if you can commit to something on a daily basis for a month then you are far more likely to keep doing it. Adding a smaller habit every month is a much more achievable way of changing your lifestyle, than trying to alter everything in one go.

When we decide to get healthy most of us try to give our lives a complete overhaul; only to be surprised when our new routine of 6am yoga practice, a rigid diet, drinking water like it is going out of fashion and alcohol-free dinners comes crashing down after a few weeks. You are much more likely to succeed if you make small, realistic changes and add new changes each month.

Make a list of the small changes that you want to make and put them in priority order. These changes may be to do with your workout, water consumption, cutting back on alcohol or cigarettes, walking to work rather than driving, taking the stairs not the lift, cutting back on sugar, limiting caffeine or eating more fruit and vegetables. Stick to one small task and ensure you meet it every day. Print out this month’s calendar and tick off each day as you complete your new lifestyle task. Research shows that monitoring progress in this way makes us far more likely to succeed.

Start with the task that sounds most appealing and easy to fulfill. Being healthy should be a joy. You’ll find that the more in tune with your body you are, the more likely you are to make healthy changes in other areas without much effort. For instance, the more you workout the more you’ll crave healthy food. The healthier you eat, the more energy you’ll have and the more active you’ll become. Let these changes happen organically, with the exception of your new habit that you start each month.

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Get friends on board

We are far less likely to cancel plans if a friend is involved. Use this method to ensure you turn up at exercises classes or swap your usual boozy lunch for a healthy hike and catch up instead. Having a friend there for every workout may feel restrictive but it can certainly help you to attend spinning class or make sure you try the new yoga sessions.

Do it for the right reasons

If you want to lose weight, do it because you love your body and not because you want to punish it. Shift the way you think. Too many times people wage war on their bodies, pinning photos of themselves from many years ago to the fridge or aiming for unrealistic expectations. Instead, approach your new regime with a different attitude. Do it because you love your body and value it. Show your body just how grateful you are by treating it with some respect.

Plan ahead

Getting healthy when you have weeks of parties, dinner dates and a holiday booked is never going to work. Likewise, if you have a stressful time coming up with work you are more likely to cave in. Start your new health regime when things feel calm and manageable and you will find it easier to make healthy choices. Doing a weekly meal plan that covers every meal and snack may feel laborious but it is the perfect way to keep you on track. Schedule in exact times for workouts.

Tell everyone

Research shows that broadcasting your ambitions, successes and workouts over social media makes people more likely to stick to them. Although no-one needs to hear about every rep of every exercise or each last pound of weight loss, it can be very motivated to know that your friends are reclaiming their lives.

Give yourself an end goal

Don’t think that your end goal should be an ideal weight or dress size but get creative with it and consider something more active, perhaps a half marathon or a sporting event. Working towards something tangible makes us more likely to succeed. Give yourself a good few months to get to the required fitness level. Sponsored running events are ideal as you can commit to a charity that means something to you, which can be hugely motivational.

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Make choices that suit you

Your sister-in-law may love pilates and your best mate may swear by Atkins but that doesn’t mean that these things will work for you. While it can be really helpful to have a workout buddy, it is also important to remember that we all have different body shapes, metabolisms and interests. Find something that excites you. If you love dancing, then sign up for local classes. If you are an adrenaline junky then take a trip to the local climbing wall. Try new things and find something that makes you want to get involved.

So why not start by making a lifestyle change today? Pick something achievable as your way of saying thank you to your fabulous body. The ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ attitude may require a little patience but you are far more likely to stick to your new lifestyle. The changes may seem gradual to start with but the end results will last longer. Lose the idea of getting fit and thin quickly, and do it the healthy way.

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