Healthy Habits for Lasting Change in the New Year


5 New Year Resolutions are Small Steps for Big Results

Research has proven that it takes 14-21 days to create a new habit. Healthy habits require baby steps to make significant changes in our life.  Fad Diets don’t work! They are based on radical behaviour changes that are not sustainable. They depend too much on willpower, which is a limited resource. Setting unrealistic goals can only lead to failure. Health and fitness success requires baby steps to achieve small and measurable goals. Celebrating these small wins gives you the motivation to take the next step.

The key is to initiate one daily nutritional change a week, rather than an entire food agenda. Changing a habit or initiating a new one requires a routine, like brushing your teeth. We brush our teeth at the same time every day. It’s something we were taught at an early age so it becomes a natural habit. It is hard to break. It doesn’t feel right of we don’t do it. Routines create habits and habits are hard to break. The idea is to only change one small part of your routine each week.

Healthy Habits #1 – Start Your Day Right

The first and easiest healthy habit I try to encourage is to have a cleansing drink before coffee or breakfast. It should be just warm water and lemon, or some chlorophyll and water. Everyone can do this. It is an easy, affordable thing to do. As this becomes part of your morning routine, you do not even have to think about it. It just becomes natural and you’ll miss it if you don’t do it.

Healthy Habits #2 – Drink Water Before Every Meal

Have a glass of water before every meal but NEVER while eating. Any liquid that you consume while eating will dilute your enzymes. This challenges your digestion (which is hard enough for a lot of people as it is) and cause bloating. Drinking before, will help you to eat less and slower. This is also a new habit that you can implement anywhere, even on vacation. If you want to learn more about drinking water, check out this blog. The first step to changing something negative in your diet is to eliminate the temptation. If it is soft drinks, sugary snack or alcoholic beverages, make sure that they don’t come in the house. Out of sight, out of mind.

Healthy Habits #3 – Start Walking Everyday

Don’t join a gym unless you have a specific and accountable plan to fit it into your busy schedule. Begin by finding ways to get more movement in your daily life – take the stairs, walk further during your commute to work, take more regular breaks from sitting.  If you have an hour lunch at work, take 30 minutes and go for a walk instead. Make it fun by either finding a buddy, or creating a challenge. Map out a distance that you can do easily in 30 minutes. Try to beat your time. Doing this every day will create a habit that your body eventually will crave. The endorphins will get you off your chair  before you even think about it.

Healthy Habits #4 – Include the Kids

The best gift you can give your children is to help them develop healthy habits early in life. My boys were with me constantly when I first started my career. Soft drinks or processed foods were not an option. They didn’t know any different. Growing up it was normal to exercise every day and eat home cooked meals. As young adults now, they have developed very healthy habits. I highly encourage parents to get their kids involved in extra physical activity at a very young age. If they are not drawn to a certain sport or enjoy team sports, there are many other things they can do. Find them a fun trainer with experience working with kids. Learning physical skills at a young age promotes confidence like nothing else.  You are their role models. If you are sedentary, chances are your child will never develop this healthy exercise habit either. Don’t just drop them off at the gym. Show up with enthusiasm and participate!

Healthy Habits #5 – Be Consistency

Do your walks or other exercise at the same time every day. Eat at regular times. Go to sleep at the same time every night. Consistency lead to more motivation, improved digestion and a better sleep. Consistency leads to better overall health and performance. Being well rested helps you focus and commit to your daily routines. Stay loyal to new habits. It’s much easier when you make small but significant changes that become healthy habits.

By Frances Michaelson

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Frances Michaelson is a Licensed Naturopath based on the West Island, Montreal, Quebec.  She is author of  Let’s Practice Health: Learn Why Your Gut Is the CEO of Your Health and several other publications. Frances is widely recognized as a leader in the health and fitness industry with over three decades of experience. She was the founder of Muscleup Inc., an exercise product distribution company, and has been a personal trainer for over 18 years. She is also an avid blogger and professional speaker.

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