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How to Develop Healthy Habits That Last a Lifetime

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As a researcher and author, John provides information in an easy-to-understand way that helps readers understand their conditions.

You’ve read articles and books about how to develop healthy eating habits. You are trying to create new patterns and already have some eating habits that do not work. You have tried dieting, you are running, or you work out at the gym.

You monitor what you eat, probably eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and you are losing some weight. However, you still gain a few pounds here and there no matter what you do. Physical improvement is just one of many aspects on the path to creating positive habits.

You have heard of the importance of building new habits, and you know it is time to develop lifelong healthy habits that will work for you and the rest of your life.

This habit-building process is challenging, but it is possible to create the patterns that will become powerful weapons in your arsenal. The key to establishing lifelong habits is to practice them daily.

So what else can you do to develop healthy habits that last a lifetime? Try these:

1. Try Jerry Seinfeld's approach. Seinfeld says he attributes his success to writing for one hour each day. Once, someone asked him how he manages the writing discipline. He stated that he created a system.

  • Each time he'd write for an hour, he'd put an "x" mark on that date in his calendar. After weeks of marking "x" on the calendar, he reached the point where his body could not imagine breaking that habit. So he kept going.
  • His intense need to keep marking "x" got stronger than his desire to skip a day. And that's why he succeeded.

2. Discover your "why." "Why" is the thing that's going to push you to say "no" to yourself when temptation comes knocking. Why do you want to do this? What's the payoff? Whatever it is, write it down.

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  • It's important to remind yourself why this is so important to you—finding your "why" is so powerful because it provides you with a great excuse to keep going when things get tough.
  • That also means that you need to have a "why" that's very strong, very personal, something that's going to motivate you.

3. Begin small and then build on top. Many people make the mistake of uprooting their routines completely and piling one new habit on top of another until they can no longer keep track. That approach is the best way to burn yourself out.

  • Instead, focus on taking small steps that will get you closer to your goals. Once you have a routine in place, you're ready to add on the new ones you know for sure are going to make positive changes in your life.

4. Set reminders. It's always important to set some reminders on your path to habit building. A few ways to set reminders include writing them down on sticky notes or placing them in your planner, posted somewhere you'll see them each day.

  • You can also download an app to remind yourself throughout the day. Alarms are also great. You could set alarms that go off at set times throughout the day.

5. Give yourself rewards along the way. Everyone needs encouragement sometimes, so don't be hard on yourself if you don't start consistently practicing what you preach right away. Pat yourself on the back for each small step you take toward your goal.

  • For example, you could reward yourself at the end of each week or month you stick to your fitness goals. You don't have to go crazy with your rewards. Choose something within a reasonable reach, but still something that will motivate you.

Developing healthy habits takes a lot of work, but it's well worth it because it can change your life. If you're not sure where to start, focus on one thing at a time. Let that become a habit, and then add other things in as you go along.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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