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7 Tips for Making a Healthy Lifestyle Sustainable

Making healthy lifestyles sustainable.

Environment is the biggest determinate of your behavior…Change the structure that influences or supports behavior and the behavior will change automatically
-Josh Kaufman

I recently read this quote and it really struck me about how true it is. It makes sense. A recovering alcoholic’s road to recovery often includes changing the scenery to avoid relapses, such as not going to bars/pubs, not buying alcohol, avoiding that aisle in the grocery store and not hanging out with his/her drinking buddies. Making these changes in your environment really does make changing your behavior much easier and more successful. So I got to thinking, how can this be applied to your fitness goals? In what ways can you change your environment to create a healthy habit? Below are 7 simple ideas that I believe will help you create the sustainable healthy lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

1. Make exercise that ‘dreaded work meeting’

Going to exercise/workout (whether in or outdoors) should be an appointment you can’t get out of, hopefully one you don’t want to get out of.  This is one of the many reasons that personal trainers exist and have their clients be successful. You are now obligated to show up-which is half the battle- and accountable to someone else about your attendance, among other things. This isn’t to say you need a trainer to be successful, just schedule it and keep the appointment.

2. Make friends with healthy/fit people

Why are your friends your friends? Probably because you share something in common, and spend time together. As you strive to develop new healthy lifestyles, develop some new relationships as well. Picking up rock climbing? Introduce yourself to others at the climbing gym or at the same climbing spot you go to. You’ll be more likely to continue to engage in that health habit when you have someone with whom to participate. So start some new friendships and you’ll find that they rub off on you in healthy ways.

3. Explore new, different activities that interest you

7 Tips for Making a Healthy Lifestyle Sustainable

This is a follow-up point from the previous tip. Try new things out that seem interesting. Not all may stick, but you’ll eventually find something that really resonates with you. As I’ve previous noted, this is one major key to success. Bottom line: finding something you enjoy doing will make you look forward to the next time you get to [insert activity here] rather than dread it like the plague. I’ve mentioned this next little tip before-don’t expect to be instantly good at most of these new activities. Don’t be discouraged. Step back and ask yourself if this is something you would like to see yourself getting better.

4. Never leave home without it

Whether the ‘it’ is your gym shoes you take to work, or your full gym bag. If you have it with you, you will be more likely to use it/do it. Seeing those gym shoes, or bag constantly will beckon you to put them on, or use them. Way too often do we say, “I’ll go home from work and then go to the gym”. No matter how great your family or home is, it can often be the black hole sucking you in never to leave for the gym again.

5. Go green

This may not be the biggest difference in being fit or flabby, but if your current environment is driving in a car everywhere taking public transit to work or errands is definately a change in scenery. You’ll end up taking more steps, more often than not, you’ll be carrying more of something (bags, groceries, etc) and you’ll be saving the planet. It doesn’t get much better than that.

6. Improve your food

The better your food intake is the better your output. As you start eating healthier your body will respond positively and many times this alone can be the impetus for getting more activity in because you feel good on the inside and you want to carry that over to the outside. The reverse is also true. Once you start getting more activity/exercise you should or will start to feel like taking better care of your body by giving it wholesome, nutrient-dense foods rather than pounding the donuts and soda.  

7. Get new, smaller plates

This is a little mind game. Your brain will still see a full plate of food and when it’s all gone it will tell you that you are full because you just ate a whole plateful of food. The key is to eat slowly, and perhaps skip getting seconds for a while as your body gets accustomed to it. What’s really happening is you are eating less calories, but without having to weight or track calories or points. 🙂