Health is a lifelong journey, it’s not a linear trajectory, and it’s also not a single fixed point that you arrive to. It’s a process of learning and evolving throughout your entire life. Thinking about health as a series of easy and fun everyday activities helps to make the journey of good health maintainable and enjoyable.
Whether you’re seeking to boost your already good health, or interested in getting healthy for the first time, it can be difficult to know where to start, and even more difficult to keep motivated by yourself. I know there is so much conflicting information out there. New diets and trends are always popping up which can be tempting to try, but often not sustainable and could do more damage than good. Listen to your gut and don’t try anything drastic or extreme.
Creating new habits always starts with awareness. Try to become aware of what bad habits you have, or what good habits you’d like to create. If you’re not already aware of this, start a habit tracker and write down all of the things you do on a regular basis. If you want to discover the triggers to your bad habits, write down each time you perform this habit and ask yourself who are you with, where you are, what’s going on, and what you are feeling.
What issues do you want to solve and what goals do you have for yourself? Oftentimes you already know what you need to work on, but it can take time to pinpoint where you want to start. If you’re not sure what you want to start with, try journaling or meditating on becoming your best self. What does that look and feel like for you? Are you working out 3 times a week? Do you eat more fresh, whole foods? Do you spend time working on your mental health?
Think about how you want to feel on the inside and create a mental picture about the process it will take to feel that way. When we solve the root issues on the inside, the outside often takes care of itself. If you want to be more active, but aren’t getting a solid nights sleep, it won’t help to get a trainer. You will be exhausting yourself with working out and quickly become more depleted. Working on getting better sleep habits will lead to having more natural energy, and then you can begin to add more activity to your life.
Healthy habits are the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. In Atomic Habits by James Clear, he lays out the four laws to creating a good habit.
The first law to making a healthy habit is to make it obvious. Write down your current habits to become aware of them. Now use implementation intentions, I will (BEHAVIOR) at (TIME) in (LOCATION). Next, use habit stacking. After (CURRENT HABIT) I will (NEW HABIT). Then design your environment to make cues of good habits obvious and visible.
The second law is to make it attractive. Use temptation bundling to pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do. Then join a culture where your desired behavior is the norm. Create a motivational ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.
The third law is to make it easy. Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits. Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier. Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact. Use the two-minute rule. Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less. Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior.
The fourth law is to make it satisfying. Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit. Make “doing nothing” enjoyable. When avoiding a bad habit, design a way to see the benefits. Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain”. Never miss twice. When you forgot to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.
Knowing all of these steps is great, but without conviction and follow-through, you’ll never get anywhere. That’s where having an accountability partner comes in. I will help you in each step of the process towards building healthy habits. Most of the time, a third party person can spot the bad habits in your life that you are unaware of, or help you be more honest with yourself about your current habits. In addition, a health coach will help you be accountable to yourself and support you the whole way. Essentially a health coach is a cheerleader in your corner, praising your victories and rooting for you when you need it the most.
Source: Atomic Habits, James Clear