Most people feel like they would like to be healthier, make smarter choices and maybe shed a few pounds. And that is where how to build healthy habits comes in.
It is one thing to know you would like to be healthier. Or even to try going on a diet.
But unless you make these healthier ways into habits, they just won’t last very long.
And that is what you are going to learn in this post. How you can make the healthier lifestyle you want part of your lifestyle by building them into healthy habits.
Before we get into how you can build habits, I think it is important that you understand what a habit is.
I think a lot of people use the word out of context. Meaning they use it but not always how it should be used. Or when it actually applies.
And it is vital to know exactly what a habit is, so you have no misconceptions about the work that goes into developing them.
A habit is a regular practice you have. It is something that is almost automatic, and it is usually hard to give up.
For example, every morning you wake up and brush your teeth. It is part of your routine. Something you always do.
I want you to keep this in mind as you read the rest of the post.
Benefits to Build Healthy Habits
The most obvious, it’s healthy.
It is good for both your mind and body to have healthy habits. And it will promote a better life.
Habits are hard to break, so once you make something a habit, you will stick with it.
Think about some habits you already have. Maybe some are bad habits you would like to break.
Think about how automatic those habits are. You do them pretty much without even thinking, they are so ingrained in you.
You will be less likely to get sick and decrease your odds of disease, such as heart disease.
When you build healthy habits, you are treating your body better. Giving it better odds of fighting off illnesses you might get.
It can help you control your weight.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but healthy habits are good for they body. Routinely working out, eating healthier, and reducing stress will all help you control or lose weight.
You may experience increased energy.
The foods you eat have a huge impact on how your body feel and how it is fueled. Better food options are better fuel for your body.
Improve your mood.
When your body feels good you feel good. It is as simple as that. And pretty much any healthy habit you build is going to make your body feel good.
Types of Healthy Habits
This is not a full list. These are just a few common types of healthy habits that people work on building.
Remember that these are behaviors you are working to do routinely or on a daily basis.
So, when you look at this list and tell yourself that you already do some of these, ask yourself if they are a habit.
Odds are for most people they are not habits. Yet.
Drinking Enough Water
Getting 7-8 Hours of Sleep a Night
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
How Long Does it Take to Build a Healthy Habit
There is really no magic number. It all depends on the person and the habit you are trying to build.
You might have seen other posts stating it only takes 21 days to build a habit.
In reality, studies have shown on average it takes about 66 days for a habit to become automatic. And the overall range of building a habit is 18 to 254 days.
Again, the time it takes depends on you and the habit. If you have ever tried to build a healthy habit, you know that there is no set amount of time it takes.
If you have never tried to make something a habit, this is something you will learn. Just remember to be patient and keep at it.
How to Build Healthy Habits
Now we get into what you really want to know. How you can build healthy habits. As you go through this, I want you to keep in mind that these are guidelines. The real work falls on you to put them into practice and again, keep at it.
1. Make a Plan
Decide what habits you want to implement. Much of what we are going to talk about it going to be part of planning.
These are important aspects you want to consider, if you want to successfully build healthy habits.
2. Know Why You Are Building the Healthy Habit
This is going to make the habit more meaningful to you and keep you motivated to achieve it.
If you have no reason to be working on it or have some goal you are trying to achieve, the habit just isn’t going to stick.
For example, if you want to start meal planning to eat healthier, your why might be to lose some weight.
Whenever you meal plan, you should always remind yourself of that why to keep you motivated to stick with the habit.
It is best to know the benefits and even the downsides to forming your habit.
Knowing what to expect makes you prepared. And after understanding both sides, if you still go for it, you know in the end it will be worth it.
3. Keep it Simple
You want to be sure that your habit is something obtainable. We are all busy and have so many other things going on, that you do not want to overthink it.
By keeping it simple, you will be able to keep up with it. Which means a higher rate of success.
For example, if you want to get into shape, maybe you walk for 10 minutes a day to start. Or workout just once a week and build onto it.
A few more examples to get you moving in the right direction are taking the stairs, focus on sitting up straight, and drinking an extra glass of water each day.
4. Set a Goal When You Build a Healthy Habit
Setting a goal or goals along the way to building your habit is going to help you stay motivated as well.
You will have a clear path of what you should be doing, and it is like a mini victory once your reach your goal.
Again, we want to make sure we make a task into a habit. Something automatic. So, make your goals easily obtainable as well and that they push you towards the overall goal.
5. Reward Yourself
This can be used with goal setting as well. Once you reach a goal or you have consistently maintained your habit for several months, you can reward yourself.
Or, if you are a person that needs a little extra motivation, you can do small rewards. For example, if you are trying to eat healthier, maybe you treat yourself to a new appliance to make cooking easier or more enjoyable for you.
Or maybe you treat yourself to a steak dinner (or a favorite meal) every once in a while, as long as you are sticking with it.
6. Have Patience When Building Healthy Habits
Remember that habits are not formed overnight.
Don’t beat yourself up if you have a slip up.
Learn from what caused you to not follow the habit and strategize once more to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Get back on track right away if this does happen. And remember, this is not all or nothing. If you do slip up, you can get back on the right path.
7. Attach Your New Habit to an Established Habit
By attaching a new habit to something you already do, it will make it that much easier for you to make the task a habit.
For example, when I started to meal plan, I attached it with my weekly grocery shopping. So, before I would go grocery shopping, I would sit down and decide what meals I would make each day. From that I could make my grocery list and go shopping.
Since I was already going shopping each week, it was easy to add on the meal planning to my routine.
You can do this with a lot of habit you are trying to build. You just need to sit down and see what habits you already have that can connect to the new habit.
8. Break Your Habit into Chunks
Now, that might sound a little weird but let me explain. This is going to go hand in hand with keeping it simple.
If you are working to make a big habit, it is best to break that habit down. Kind of like you would with setting goals.
For instance, if the habit you want to build is to workout 30 minutes 5 times a week, you would want to break that up.
The odds of you sticking to such a drastic change from your norm are not good.
But, if you workout for just 10 minutes a day starting with once of twice a week and build from there, your odds drastically increase.
So, look at your habit and determine if it is something that can be broken into chunks to make it easier on yourself.
9. Get a Buddy
This tip is not always going to apply when you are trying to build a healthy habit. However, there might be times when you and someone close to you are working on the same habit.
This is helpful because you have someone that you can work on it with. They can be another way to keep you motivated and encourage you.
They can also help keep you accountable. All of which will help you be successful.
10. Commit to Build Healthy Habits
This might seem obvious, but you need to commit to what you are doing.
We have all made commitments before, so you know what it means to commit. Take it seriously and don’t give up.
Give it the time needed and remind yourself that you have made this commitment to make this habit.
11. Remove Temptation
I want to briefly talk about this tip, although it won’t apply to all habits, but certain habits might rely on this.
If you are working on building a healthy habit and have something that can get in the way of that, you want to get rid of it.
For example, if you are looking to cut out soda, you want to get rid of the soda in your house. And maybe the extra change you carry so you can’t buy one at work.
I know people that struggle with this habit and part of the problem is that it is easily accessible for them. They have it at home.
By removing the temptation, it allows you to start off on the right foot and reduces the chances of a slip up.
12. Replace What’s Lost
When you are building certain habits, you might be giving something up. Whenever possible, it is a good idea to try to replace what you are cutting out with something that is acceptable to you.
Back to the habit of cutting out soda. When my coworker cut out soda, she replaced it with low to no sugar flavoring to put in her water. She still got a flavored drink, but a much healthier option for her.
Again, you might not be able to do this with every habit but try to get creative to see what you can come up with.
By replacing what is lost, it won’t really feel like a loss. It makes it much easier to stick with what you are doing and make it a habit.
13. Be Positive About Building Your Healthy Habits
This can be difficult at times. After all you are trying to make a big change. But positivity is going to be key in making it successful.
Whenever you think a negative thought about building your habit, you need to change it into a positive. Catch yourself as soon as you realize it and flip what you were saying.
If, “I can’t do this,” crosses your mind, tell yourself you can. Or add to you phrase, “but I’m working on it”.
Mindset is huge when it comes to reaching goals and making habits.
So, always make sure it’s positive.
14. Write Your Habit Down
I feel like this is important to do. The way I see it, when you write something down it feels more serious. Concrete.
We have so many thoughts in a day, it’s amazing that we remember anything. But writing things down helps up remember.
You can make the habit clearer and more focused on exactly what you want.
And you can go back and reread it whenever you need to. As a reminder or motivation to keep you moving in the right direction.
Build Healthy Habits
We have covered a lot of ground in this post. We have gone over defining what a habit is, the benefits of healthy habits, how long they take to form, what types of healthy habits are out there, and how to actually build healthy habits.
Now, that is a lot of information. Probably too much for you to retain with reading this post just once.
So, I suggest going back and rereading it if you are serious about being successful and making really changes.
For those of you who will not go back and read it, yet, I want you to keep these key aspects in mind.
To build a healthy habit you need to make a plan and understand why you are trying to make this task a habit.
Make sure to keep it simple, set goals and reward yourself.
Be patient because this will not happen overnight.
If possible, attach your new habits to habits you already have and break these new habits into chunks.
Find a buddy to help keep you motivated and commit to your new healthy habit.
Remove any temptations you might have and replace what you are giving up with something better.
Write down your habit to make it concrete and above all else, be positive!
Do all of this, and you will successfully build healthy habits!
If you are looking for some easy ways to be healthier, check out this post!
And if you want to dive deeper into your eating habits, check out What’s Wrong With What I Eat?