Starting “getting healthy” is easy. The rush at the beginning of a detox or cleanse; exciting! The signing of the gym or yoga membership; exciting! Buying the new workout gear or kit; exciting! When we start out on a Get Healthy endeavour the beginning is the easy bit.
The vision of the slimmer, fitter, more toned, bikini ready version of ourselves dangling before us. It’s easy to take action, and it feels good.
The thing is, as many of us know, after a few weeks that initial rush of enthusiasm has worn off and the Get Healthy practice we were initially so inspired by has become a chore, a grind, and a pain in the ass.
Gradually the “yoga every day” commitment becomes every other day, then twice a week until the mat just sits gathering dust in the back of the car.
The juicer whispering the promise of kick-starting each day with green juice made from kale and parsley becomes a white elephant taking up space on the kitchen worktop, a continual reminder we have not kept our promise to ourselves.
So, how do we beat this common phenomenon? How do we make Getting Healthy a happy habit we actually keep?
1. Set the bar lower: do what you can do on a bad day not a good day
"Set the bar lower: do what you can do on a bad day not a good day."
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Most Get Healthy projects fail because we set the bar too high. We set it based on the dream ideal, what we would do in our perfect week when we leave work on time each day, the weather is great and life is a breeze. This sets us up for failure because, inevitably, this is life; shit happens!
The kids get sick; the washing machine springs a leak; there is a crisis at work; the bus is late. So, the key is to plan your Get Healthy plan around what you could do in your WORST week, not your best. Set the bar a little lower.
This is then a commitment you can actually keep, no matter what. Is it a cop out? Hells no! You can increase your commitment on the weeks life is all going like a dream as a bonus, but the most important thing is keeping that commitment on the tricky weeks when you have the in-laws staying, the dog needs to go to the vets and your assistant is on annual leave.
Those are the weeks that count in terms of building a habit that sticks.
2. Replace a bad habit with a good habit, one at a time
It’s easier to stick to a new healthy habit if you replace a bad habit with a good one, rather than just trying to stop a bad one. By substituting a more positive habit rather than just depriving yourself of something you are far more likely to keep the habit up. So stop having that glass of wine when you come in from work by driving home a different way and have a walk on the beach on the way. Or give up the Friday Fish and Chips by instituting a Healthy Night once a week where you and your partner take it in turns to cook a new recipe.
3. Make it a happy habit not an effort of willpower
Willpower is a finite resource. Sooner or later it will run out. Fact! So if you are relying only on willpower to get you to the gym or to drag out the juicer then eventually you are bound to fall off the wagon. Far better to focus on what naturally pulls you forward rather than what you have to force yourself to do. That means choosing exercise that you LOVE and food that you actually ENJOY. The less effort required the better, and the key to that is choosing what really feels delicious and fun for you.
4. Find an accountability system that works for you
Accountability is great. Different strokes for different folks, one girl’s inspiration is another woman’s nightmare. So do what works for you.
Maybe it’s committing to compete in a sports event. Maybe it’s hanging a pic of Jennifer Aniston in her bikini next to the date of your next beach holiday.
Maybe is getting three of the girls from the office commit to a walk around the block at lunchtime three days a week. You are smart; figure out what keeps you accountable and motivated.
5. Reconnect regularly with your WHY
Your WHY is your Spiritual Fuel that powers you towards your goal. Reconnecting with why you chose to commit to this Get Healthy journey at the beginning when it was all shiny and exciting will help you to stay on track when the going gets tough and the shine has faded.
Was it to feel good in your jeans? Or to have the energy to run around with your kids? Or to do a sub-4 hour marathon? Or to have toned arms? Or to be peaceful and calm and sleep well? Reconnect with why you started in the first place.
And ask yourself, what habit do I wish I had started a year ago? Drinking more water? Running? A weekly yoga class? A daily green juice? Ask yourself what will you wish you had stuck at a year from now?
Reconnect with your WHY and stay on course. Making Getting Healthy a happy habit that sticks is totally possible, start small, be consistent and work with what pulls you forward with love not force, that is the key.