You’ve joined a gym, bought a notebook to record your workouts, and purchased all the workout clothes and gear you think you’ll need. Or maybe you’ve bought a new healthy recipes book, stocked up on fresh fruits and vegetables, and are planning to start cooking every night.
You may have started out strong in your resolutions to live healthier, but then what?
Healthy Living Requires Starting Small and Setting Goals
One of the main reasons people fail to commit to a healthy lifestyle for the long-term is because they try to do too much at once. For example, if you’ve been a couch potato for years but suddenly decide you’re going to run a marathon within the next few months, you’re setting yourself up for failure and may even injure yourself trying to train at a higher intensity that you can handle.
The trick to making sure your healthy lifestyle sticks is setting manageable goals and finding the motivation to stick with those changes. People motivate themselves in all kinds of creative ways; here are 4 suggestions if you’re stuck for ideas.
1. Make a Bet
If you’re the competitive type, making a wager may be a good way to hold yourself accountable for your healthy living goals. Let’s say you’ve recently decided you’re going to quit smoking. Try betting a friend that you can go two months without smoking at all, and offer to buy them a nice dinner (or pay them a set amount of money) if you can’t. If you’re trying to eat better, bet a work friend that you can bring a healthy lunch from home every day for a month.
By setting up a support network of friends and making sure there’s something at stake, you’ll increase your odds of sticking to your goal.
2. Establish a Reward System
Sometimes you need to use a carrot instead of a stick. Reward yourself for good behavior rather than beating yourself up when you break from your resolution. Set a specific goal, like working out three times a week for four months straight, and establish a specific reward, like a weekend getaway or a trip to your favorite restaurant.
Some people who have been trying to get healthier by giving up a habit like smoking or drinking will fill a jar with the money they would have spent on cigarettes or beer and will buy themselves a present or take a vacation when the jar reaches a certain level.
3. Use Social Media
Looking for better ways to be held accountable for your healthy living goals? There are plenty of social media sites aimed specifically at connecting people who have similar goals and letting users cheer each other on as they document their progress on the site. Sites like Fitocracy will even award points when you reach certain milestones and allow you to participate in challenges with friends in order to keep you motivated.
4. Go on an Active Vacation
If you love to travel, consider setting a fitness goal that will take you somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. If you’ve started running and want to build up your endurance, maybe you could sign up for a marathon in Hawaii. If you’ve taken up biking to work, motivate yourself to take your riding to the next level by signing up for an international cycling tour. Make sure you schedule your fitness vacation far enough in the future that you’ll actually have time to get in shape for it and be able to enjoy your travels once you get there.