Like so many Americans, you may be planning to make some changes in the New Year. Perhaps you are embarking on a new exercise program, or you would like to try some new foods. Maybe you would like to establish some healthier habits all the way around, for the ultimate goal of better managing your diabetes and living a more energized life. Either way, the formation of new habits takes time, a bit of trial and error, and best of all…successful change. Here are a few steps to guide you to success in your 2015 endeavors.
1. Choose a habit, or habits, you feel most ready to change.
If you can’t yet imagine yourself living without your daily diet soda, or the thought of starting a running program makes you cringe, why psych yourself out by unrealistically aiming for these changes? Instead, think about the habits you feel most ready to change and choose one or two you would like to take a stab at shifting. Perhaps you want to start eating a serving of vegetables each day for lunch. No change is too small.
2. Set reasonable goals.
We all know that successful change requires goals, yet so often we set forth on our mission without a clear purpose. Or, our ambitions are so outrageously unrealistic that we drop them one week in. This time around, be reasonable. You may not imagine yourself living without soda, but you can compromise by cutting back just a bit. Establish two or three of these sensible goals and go for it.
3. Create a specific plan.
A goal without a plan is like steering a boat without a rudder. For each of your goals, define a clear path. For example, “I am going to cut back on drinking diet soda by taking a bottle of seltzer water to work, and drinking that instead.“ Like your goals, establish a plan that is both strategic and rational.
4. Set up your surroundings to support your effort.
If you want to eat fewer sweets, don’t buy them at the store or keep them in the house. If you want to eat more fruit for snacks, keep fresh fruit in a bowl on the kitchen counter and buy frozen fruit to make morning smoothies. Enable your success!
5. Tell family and friends, whose support you would like to have.
You would like your spouse or partner to support you in your efforts by making better food purchases, or exercising with you a few times each week. Explain how important it is to you. Consistency is key.
6. Expect challenges and occasional setbacks.
The road to the top is fraught with challenges. You might revert to your old habit(s) sometimes. This is NORMAL! Everyday is a new day.
7. Keep track of efforts made and goals attained.
We all like feeling accomplished and triumphant. Keeping track of endeavors on a calendar, in a notebook, on a website or with an app affirms your efforts and keeps the spark alive. Try using the SuperTracker, and check out these apps: MapMyRun, Nutrition Menu, and Habits Pro.
8. Keep on truckin’.
Learning new health habits is like learning how to play an instrument, or any other new skill. Be patient, practice, and stay positive.
Here’s to a fresh start in 2015!