There’s a reason why the expression ‘Healthy, Wealthy and Wise’ is said in that order – Health comes first, so naturally, many of us choose a Health-oriented goal when it comes to making a New Year’s resolution. Feeling motivated and inspired to make a fresh start with your health is one thing but maintaining that motivation and inspiration is another! It all comes down to forming a new habit – or breaking an old one.
The good news is that there is evidence to show that a behaviour change selected based on its personal value is an easier habit to form. (1) So, while your Health Resolution may seem a little challenging, it is ultimately based upon your own desire to change, meaning those new healthy habits can have you feeling a little more true to yourself.
Most of us know what type of health resolution to make (typically things around food, exercise, and sleep) but still, struggle to form a new habit. Typically, when striving for long-term goals, people often get in conflict with their short-term goals. (2) Eating a sugary snack vs staying sugar-free, watching late-night TV vs keeping regular sleep hours – it’s about moving the goalpost. The length of time between forming a new habit and feel like that new habit has shifted to a ‘new normal’ varies from person to person.
Some people manage to form certain habits as quickly as 18 days, others need as much as half a year (2) and this often depends on the goal they have chosen. A study found that when forming a new habit, physical activity behaviours took 1.5 times longer to become automatic compared to healthier eating or drinking habits. (3) What this tells us is that a Health Resolution needs time to manifest, and having this insight helps to stay on your path throughout the whole year.
Tips to Keep on Track
Make it real – Invest in yourself. Make any necessary purchases to get started. It could be a healthy meal plan, a new mattress or a gym membership. Regardless of what it is you need to do, justify the why and don’t back away from any upfront expenses.
Set realistic goals – Want to be a morning person? Try winding that alarm clock back slowly in increments over the first month to find your ‘sweet spot’. Perhaps you’re aiming for 5 am but 5.45 am feels achievable for the time being.
Share the news – Whether it’s keeping on track with an accountability buddy or just letting family and friends know, it helps to make your health goal common knowledge. By doing so, you’ve got a support network and you’ll get credit where it’s due. It might be best to keep your Social Post inside a private setting or group
Remind yourself – Remember you genuinely want to make the change. Create a mantra to serve as a reminder like “I want to be this way every day” or “I’m doing my best to do what serves me best” and repeat it often.
Allow for setbacks – Don’t let a cheat meal, one late night or skipping a gym session send you spiralling. Hit the reset button! You might just appreciate your new early bedtime all the more after a late night or notice the crunch of an apple is all the sweeter compared to a gooey chocolate bar.
Don’t make it an all or nothing approach – Research consistently demonstrates that “too much change, too fast” is likely to end without positive results. (3) It serves as a reminder that sometimes less is more – small changes are just as powerful in the long term.
Get professional guidance – Get advice if you think you need it. Do you need a health assessment in relation to sleep disturbances? Can a personal training session improve your technique? Check-in here at Livewell or with any professional who will serve your needs and help you achieve your health goals this coming year!
We wish you good luck in 2022 in health and in life, from all of us here at Livewell