How to Make Your Healthy Habits Stick Once and For All

Michele Lian
How to Make Your Healthy Habits Stick Once and For All

When I started out on my journey to get healthy and lose weight, reaching my goals seemed like one of the world’s biggest mysteries.

It seemed like there were a million things that I "needed" to do: cut out the carbs, avoid the fat, head to the gym, detox, count my calories, avoid this, eat that, well... you get the picture. Not surprisingly, the early steps that I took were often through a fog of confusion that always had me turning back to the starting line, where I struggled with a constant self-loathing, the food around me that I could never say “no” to, and self-confidence that continued to dip day by day.

After awhile, I just gave up trying to do everything. All I wanted was a self-care ritual that felt simple, intuitive, and natural. I wanted less struggle and resistance, more joy and ease.

So I decided to get rid of all the layers that didn’t feel right for me, and zero in on the ones that did.

Here’s what I did, and how you can make your healthy habits stick, too:

1. Focus on Things You Can Control Instead of Focusing on Outcomes

There are a million things that are out of your control: the number on your scale creeping up instead of going down, the workout buddy who bailed on you at the last minute, what other people think of you, or a friend’s insensitive comment about your weight.

There are, however, a million other things that you can control. Like waking up thirty minutes earlier to plan your lunch, parking a little further to get more steps into your day, spending 15 minutes squeezing a quick workout in instead of watching TV, or heading to your colleague’s desk for a stress-relieving chat instead of to the pantry, where the cookie jar is.

Then once a week, ask yourself: “Are my habits helping me get to where I want to be?”

If your answer is “no," find out why and focus on doing what you can do to change the outcome. You’re the captain of your ship -- decide where you’d like to go, do your best to equip yourself with the skills that will help you get there, and let go of the rest.

2. Stop Trying to "Fix" Yourself and Start Working on Who You Want to Become

You’re a human being, not a broken machine that needs to be fixed.

Break the chain of jumping from one random diet or fitness tactic to another in a desperate attempt to "fix" yourself by taking some time to figure out what a meaningful, joyful, and healthy goal is that you’d like to achieve, and how can you pursue that instead of following your (or someone else’s) "shoulds."

To get momentum going, try this simple exercise, which will help you get to the core of why you want something. Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish?” When you’ve got the answer to this question, ask “Why?” Then, with whatever answer you come up with, ask why to that, and so on, five times.

Not sure how to get started? Here’s how this simple Q&A worked for me when I was struggling with my weight:

Q: What do you want to accomplish?

A: I want to stop overeating at every meal.

Q: Why do you want to stop overeating?

A: Because I want to feel good in my body.

Q: Why do you want to feel good in your body?

A: So I can feel confident.

Q: Why do you want to feel confident?

A: So I can stop avoiding social situations and feeling self-conscious about being overweight.

Q: Why do you want to stop avoiding social situations and feeling self-conscious about being overweight?

A: Because I want to stop putting off doing the things I want to do.

Q: Why do you want to stop putting off doing the things you want to do?

A: So I can get the most out of my life without wasting time hating how I look and feel.

This final answer put me in touch with a painful situation I never wanted to relive again, and a compelling goal that made me want to keep moving forward.

Work with who you want to become instead of trying to fit a bunch of disconnected tactics into your life -- you’ll find yourself feeling whole instead of constantly struggling to connect the missing dots.

3. Get Out of the Race -- Getting Healthy Isn’t a Competition

If you’re constantly comparing your diet, weight loss, goals, and body to someone else’s, you’re also probably constantly feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

But what if this rush for the flattest abs and thinnest thighs keeps leaving you burnt out, unhealthy, and depressed? Consider tweaking your priorities. Why not drop out of the race so you can stop worrying about everyone else and start focusing on you instead?

The less you focus on competing with others, the more time and energy you’ll have to spend on taking care of you and working your way to becoming healthier than you were yesterday.

I promise you that.

How have you made your healthy habits stick? Do you have any tips to share with the community? Give us a shout in the comments below!