How to Set (and Keep) Healthy Habits in 2017
After a joyous holiday season, I welcome the fresh start of a new year. Like me, you’ve likely set some health goals and hope to add a few good habits to your routine in 2017.
I’m vowing to make fresh juice at least once a week and practice a minimum of 15 minutes of self-guided yoga each morning, even on days when I attend yoga classes at the gym.
But, how long will it realistically take to turn these wishes into healthy habits?
It takes just over two months to make a new habit stick, and start happening automatically
The European Journal of Social Psychology published an article highlighting research by Phillippa Lally and colleagues from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre regarding how habits are formed. Long story short, the time frame varies, but usually it takes just over two months to make a new habit stick, and start happening automatically.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
According to the research, to create a habit, you must repeat the desired action in the same situation, consistently. For example, if you vow to replace your daily 10:00am sugar-laden specialty coffee drink with hot herbal tea, you must do so each day at 10:00am.
Be Mindful Of Temptations
Breaking that old coffee habit is hard, so avoid any triggers. Don’t walk past the local coffee shop during your break. Instead, bring your own herbal tea bags to work with you, so they’re always accessible. Preparation sets you up for success!
Change Little by Little
Don’t tackle a wide-sweeping change all at once. Instead, focus on taking baby steps, according to Psychology Today contributing writer Ian Newby-Clark, a psychologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
For example, if you want to kick your daily fast food lunch addiction to the curb for good, don’t quit cold turkey. Instead, wean yourself off. Start by packing your lunch two days a week, then gradually add extra days until you reach your goal.
Look Over Your Own Shoulder
Stick to the new routine by keeping yourself accountable. I find I’m most successful when I have to chart my progress. I use the My Fitness Pal app on my smartphone to log my meals and exercise. When I don’t reach my goals, I try harder the next day.
Newby-Clark says we tend to stick to our bad habits because they give us immediate satisfaction and short-term payoffs. Instant gratification is enticing.
Focusing on long-term benefits or reaching a future goal can help. How about saving that fast food lunch money for a weekend getaway? Or, what about buying a new outfit for every 10lbs. you shed? Keep your eyes on the prize when you’re feeling weak and ready to give in to the easier options.
Vitamin World offers a variety of products to help you reach your health goals in the new year. Make it a habit to boost your nutrition each day with a simple meal replacement, healthy snack or supplement. Good luck to you in 2017!
Angela Tague is vegetarian, gluten-free, Iowa-based freelance writer working full-time in content and journalism. When she's not behind her keyboard, she's probably on a yoga mat or in the swimming pool. Follow her personal health journey on her blog, Cupcakes and Yoga Pants.