Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Myth: It’s almost impossible to change habits to improve your health.

Woman walking briskly
Answer: BUSTED!

Yes, changing habits is hard work. But almost impossible? No way! It takes time to break old habits and create new ones. Around the first of the year, many articles on establishing good habits such as making healthy food choices and being more active proliferate. No doubt, the influx of health-related articles has to do with the recent holiday memories - all the food consumed and the days missed being active. However, when it comes to changing food and physical activity habits, it seems that summer time might be a good time to start. Why? Summer brings a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are delicious, low in calories and filling. And the longer days allow more time to get out and be active. For example, if you want to add more walking into your daily routine, start by getting up in the morning now so that when winter rolls around, getting up in the morning is already an established part of your daily routine.

Here are some others tips to help establish healthy habits:

  • Set small goals. These are your early and consistent “wins.” Setting and achieving small goals allows you to see progress and keep going.
  • Change your environmental cues. Keep your sneakers and workout clothes in your bedroom (not in the closet) at all times. Seeing them is a daily visual reminder to be active.
  • Plan – it’s not a dirty word! The night before think about when you are going to build activity into the next day’s schedule. Watch the weather and plan accordingly. Add activity to your online calendar. Use the weekend to make a healthy recipe, like stir-fry, so you have something on hand to eat later in the week when you are too busy to prepare something healthy.
These tips can help your healthy habits become easy changes for you to make. For more tips about getting and staying motivated for your good health go to: http://missourifamilies.org/features/healtharticles/health60.htm

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933 

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