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Healthy Habits, How to Start and Maintain Them

We're well into the New Year and I hope you're still going strong with your new year resolutions but life can get in the way. We have good intentions but sometimes those healthy habits get pushed to the back burner. I'm a victim of this, as a farmer, when we're working on the farm in the summer, I'm constantly running around the farm. Getting my body moving is never a problem. Fueling my body isn't hard either especially when you have easy access to local, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables.

These winter months really get me though, I find it harder to get moving, getting bundled up for a walk isn't my idea of fun and fruits and vegetables just don't taste the same. My pallet has been spoiled by the amazing produce that comes out of our fields. Keeping healthy habits is really important for your body, mind and soul.

First, why do we find it so hard to start and stick with a healthy habit? Behavioral scientists who study the formations of habits say that too many of us try to start a healthy habit in a really unhealthy way. We make bold statements but don't set ourselves up for success.

The best way to start a new healthy habit is to stack it against another habit. Look for patterns in your day and think about how you can use those existing habits to create new healthy one. For example, while you're enjoying that morning cup of coffee, start a one-minute meditation.

Make new habits as easy as possible in the beginning. Going for a short walk as soon as you get home from work or on your lunch hour can lead to a new exercise habit. Once this habit has developed, you can start to explore more intense forms of exercise.

Do it every day. According to researchers, the average time it takes for a new habit to develop is 66 days. Habits can take a long time to develop but they form faster the more often you do them. It's important to stick with something that's easy to do.

Reward yourself! Now we're talking my language, who doesn't love a nice reward for all that hard work. They are an important part of your healthy habit formation. Some rewards take a little longer to develop like the physical changes from exercise, that's why its important to build in immediate rewards to help you stick with the habit. Listen to an audiobook on your daily walk or plan an exercise date with a friend, so the reward is time spent with your friend. These immediate rewards will help reinforce your health habits.

Here are 7 small healthy habits you can start today:

  1. Make your bed

  2. Stretch as soon as you get out of bed

  3. Hydrate first thing in the morning

  4. Meditate before touching your phone (even if it's only for one minute, it's a start!)

  5. Laugh and smile freely

  6. Recite positive affirmations daily (I believe in myself)

  7. Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones

Whether your goal is to run in the Ottawa Race Weekend or to get your body moving more often, remember it's all about setting smaller, more attainable goals on your way to your big goal. You can do it, I believe in you!



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