How to develop a new healthy habit

Have you ever started a diet, or exercise programme and struggled to make it last longer than a week? If you are like the millions of people, who have set out with the best intentions, full guns blazing, but lost your momentum – don’t worry.

Research has shown that it takes 66 days to establish a habit, so persistence is key. Here’s a guide to developing a new healthy habit without relying on self-motivation alone!

Set small goals
We can all get carried away when developing a new healthy habit and make lists full of big plans, but it is actually best to start small and manage expectations as your goal is more likely to succeed. Work out your unhealthy habits/patterns, set yourself goals that are realistic, and write them down – this will help you achieve them! Plan steps to reach each goal you’ve written down, and allow yourself the time to achieve them, these things can’t be rushed!

Identify harmful patterns
Remove all temptation from your path and find ways to make healthy choices. If you feel your willpower is wavering, find an area of your home you can make a relaxing area for yourself of an evening & enjoy a moment or two of peace. Go on a walk somewhere new once a week and change the area you look at.

Ask for support
Find friends, family, work mates, or even neighbours who might want to join in with you, and develop a healthier habit themselves! This means you are accountable for everything you do, and you will have someone to encourage you when you are struggling. Asking for support doesn’t mean you have failed, it’s a really important step. You never know, you might be doing them a favour as well.

Make it fun
If you don’t like something or aren’t enjoying it, there is very little chance you will stick it out. It’s important to make you new health habit as fun as possible. For instance, exercise with friends or attend a fun fitness class or learn to cook tasty healthy foods. Don’t make being healthy a chore, it can be fun! Why not get the family involved and do a walk through the woods, or get the bikes out and see how far you can go in a certain time frame.

Track your progress
Maybe start a food diary that you have to share with your support network or use your fitness tracker to track your walks/bike rides with the kids. Design a timetable of the weekend and track how much you want to do vs how much you have done.

Reward yourself
Once you’ve achieved a goal, or milestone, give yourself a healthy reward. Book yourself a massage, or book yourself some personal time. Maybe have a date night at home, and make an extra special dinner.

Be patient
All of these improvements take time, and although the results won’t be glaringly obvious to yourself, the people around you will notice. It takes four weeks of commitment for someone else to notice a change, and eight weeks of solid commitment for you to start seeing a change in yourself.

It’s not just your physical appearance that changes, healthier habits impact positively on your mood, your skin, and your hair.