This guest post comes to you from Keri Glassman, MS, RDN. For more from Keri, visit her website at NutritiousLife.com.
Letting go of bad habits is similar to letting go of those old sweats with more holes than you can count. You know you need to ditch ‘em and buy yourself some new chill wear but you love them, they comfort you — and who’s got the time to shop for clothes anyway? Don’t laugh. Sticking to an exercise routine, meal prepping healthy dishes and even adopting new mental habits (like switching negative thoughts to positive ones) aren’t as different from buying fresh sweats as you may think. Here are five tips to pinpoint your motivation and keep you going.
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1. Know your motivation.
Where is your motivation coming from? Why do you want to make the change and ditch your sugary morning muffin? What made you join the expensive gym down the block? Tap into why you want to do something. This will help you commit and remember why you started this goal in the first place. It will also help you to believe in yourself. Write down your reasons in a journal and go back and read it when you need to be reminded. Repeating a mantra each day, such as “I am fit and strong” or another one that fits your goal, is also not a bad idea for self-efficacy. Check out these motivational mantras from Instagram’s fittest and most inspiring influencers.
2. Go hard with a game plan (and a backup plan).
Write down a game plan for ditching that muffin. What will replace this indulgent morning habit? Maybe it’s preparing a delicious stack of protein pancakes or baking a batch of oatmeal muffin recipes, if you’re on the go. These wholesome recipes use a variety of nutrient-rich ingredients to keep you satisfied, but still help you stave off your sweet cravings. Other things to ask yourself: When and where are you going to buy healthier ingredients to replace the daily muffin? Dedicate one morning a week to make a trip to the grocery to pick up the foods you’ll eat throughout the week. And when you know you won’t have time to get to the grocery, prepare an extra batch of meals you’re making and freeze them. The key is to have a backup plan. You’ve got no goal without a game plan.
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3. Make your goals measurable.
Think about what measurable things represent the goals you want to achieve and the specific changes you can make towards reaching them. What healthy habits (to replace bad habits) can you incorporate into your life to help navigate towards these goals? If it’s to be more active, does this mean being able to run five miles or cross your first 5K finish line? Run-walk for a mile or two and gradually build your way up to a 5K or 10K. If your goal is losing five pounds, you can start by making a healthy green smoothie with no sugar added or smoothie bowl at least three or four mornings a week, instead of grabbing that muffin. These are great ways to measure a goal with a specific behavior change to go along with it.
4. Have a big mouth.
Tell your friends (or just one friend, your partner or even your mom) about your goals and your plan. You need a solid support system to give you a little kick in the tush when you go rogue. It will happen and that’s OK. You just need to get back on track stat. Join a running club or talk to friends at your next fitness class. Your peers can provide you with a daily dose of encouragement. If you want to lose weight, ask your partner or your family to help you prepare healthy meals during the week. They’ll also benefit from your positive ways!
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5. Guide your thoughts.
Having thoughts is involuntary, but thinking about positive thoughts isn’t. Get rid of the emotional blocks that are keeping you from transforming bad habits into healthy ones. We need positive thoughts to push positive behavior. Assess the situation when you are reverting back to a negative thought pattern. How can you see the situation differently? How can change your negative thoughts to positive ones? For example, “I slipped and had an unhealthy muffin for breakfast four days ago.” You can turn this into a positive thought by thinking about the progress you’ve made, too. “I’ve had a healthy smoothie four days in a row for breakfast.”
“We need positive thoughts to push positive behavior.”
When you do slip, change your way of thinking by acknowledging the reason you may have gone back to your old thought pattern. Then, flip the switch and turn it into a positive thought and lesson. Sometimes being tired or stressed will trigger negative thought patterns and habits. Acknowledge why you’re having these thoughts, treat yourself with kindness and don’t hold a grudge against yourself for it.