How to Form Healthy Habits
Is it really true that healthy habits can lead to a longer life? And, if so, how much longer? A group of researchers compared the lifespans of thousands of adults and found this: One group exercised at least 30 minutes each day, ate a healthy diet, maintained a normal weight, didn’t smoke, and limited alcohol. Women who had all five healthy habits lived to age 93 on average, the men to age 88. In the group without these healthy habits, the women lived to age 79 on average, the men to age 76.1
That’s a lot of “bonus” years. But it’s easier said than done, you say? Oh, without a doubt. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you form healthier habits:
Spot your triggers. What triggers an unhealthy habit in you? Is it eating in front of the television—or at your computer? Is it bringing the bottle of wine to the table, instead of pouring just one glass? Is it letting the weather dictate whether or not you exercise? Awareness is the first step to making a change.2
Make a plan. You may have heard some of this before, but it bears repeating:
Imagine your future self. Are you the kind of person who has trouble resisting temptation? For example, is it hard to resist the impulse to eat dessert every day? If so, it might help to imagine how your future healthier self will feel.2
Be patient—and celebrate success. It takes time to change negative habits and to “install” healthier ones. So, go easy on yourself if you don’t see results right away. Celebrate positive behaviors, not just the end result you’re reaching for. Made it to the gym this morning? Get in the car and say, “Good for you, you did it!” Skipped that junk food snack? Do a little victory dance. The positive emotions you generate will help you stay on track. 3,4
Now, all of this comes with a caution: The same things don’t work for everyone. So, come have a talk with me and we can discuss your plan. I know you can start off the New Year on the right foot!
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
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