Saturday, December 1, 2018

How to Stick With Your Healthy Living Goals During the Holidays

It’s too easy to let your healthy exercise and diet plans slide during the winter holidays.  There are all the parties and special holiday foods, the weather’s too nasty to get to the gym or walk outside, you’re spending more time with family and friends who don’t understand your healthy lifestyle needs…

OK, there’s always excuses.  And even those of us who are most committed to healthy lifestyle changes will falter now and then.

What can you do to get back on the right track?  Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Forgive yourself for mistakes.  Remember that they happen to everyone but that they don’t mean you should give up your new healthy habits.  Pick up where you left off and move toward your goals once again.
  2. Perhaps you fell off track because it felt like you didn’t have the time to work out.  Put your exercise session (or whatever lifestyle change you’re making) into your schedule or planner.  Make it mandatory.  You’ll feel good when you check off “Mission accomplished” each day, and you are less likely to “forget” to work toward your goals.
  3. Keep an achievement diary.  Make daily notes of what you accomplished, the individual steps toward your overall goal.  Although some wearable devices will keep track of your steps, weight, etc., there’s something about writing it down where you can review it each week that helps keep you motivated and continuing to make progress toward your overall goal of a healthy life.
  4. If you’re starting a new routine or starting over, remember to begin with small steps.  Be realistic about what you think you can do each day for a week, and set out to accomplish that.  Then gradually increase your plan after you’ve done the simplest level for a week or two.  It takes time to establish new healthy habits.
  5. Having trouble staying on track? Take some time to recall exactly why you’ve set the healthy lifestyle goal.  Visualize yourself meeting the goal, and what a difference it will make in your life.  Whether you are eating less meat and more veggies and fruits to lower your cholesterol, or you’re exercising to lessen your pain and stiffness, keep the end results in your mind.  In fact, find a picture that represents your goal.  It could be a photo of your younger slimmer self, or a clipping from a magazine advert showing a woman riding a bike or a man playing ball with grandkids.  Whatever your goal, post an image of it where you will see it frequently as a reminder of your initial motivation for making a healthy lifestyle change.
  6. One way to hold yourself accountable is to penalize skipping.  Miss your daily exercise? Eat a fast food burger and fries for lunch instead of a small salad? Pay a dollar to an “Oops Jar.” Hope that it doesn’t happen too often, but if it does, then you’ll have a small amount to donate to your favorite charity.  (NOTE: The penalty cash should never be used as a reward for achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself.)
  7. Find someone who shares your goal and work together to achieve it.  Teamwork keeps each team member motivated.  You hold each other accountable.  Consistent action over a longer time span will help you achieve your goal faster.  And it’s just a lot more fun to exercise with a pal.
  8. Celebrate every success.  When you’ve met your daily goal, whatever it is, take a moment to congratulate yourself on sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan.  Give yourself a BIG smile! You earned it.  Achieved a milestone? You lost 10 pounds or are smoking less than a pack a day or exercised every day for a month? Then it’s time for a big celebration.  Just make sure it’s one that won’t break your success.  No splurging on a bust-your-gut buffet to celebrate weight loss.  Choose something like renting a movie you’ve been thinking of watching (and don’t let your popcorn addiction lead you astray while viewing it).

Use these small strategies to keep on track toward your healthy lifestyle goals during the winter holiday season.

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