How to Build Healthy Habits that Will Last for Life

Experts share advice for effectively adopting long-term healthy habits

Good health is the result of a consistent effort.

It’s what you do on a regular basis, not just every now and then, that ultimately affects your overall well-being, which is why it’s crucial to establish habits and routines that will last beyond a five-day juice cleanse or a four-week weight loss program.

Sure, maybe that sort of things will get you quick results, but they likely won’t be sustainable; there’s a good chance you’ll eventually end up right back where you started.

Instead, it’s smarter to adopt healthy habits that will sustain your health in the long-term and stick with you for life.

The first step in this process, says Diane Randall, a lifestyle coach and consultant who works to help people find a healthy balance between their work and their “real lives,” is to understand what’s important to you.

“Then determine the choices and decisions that represent where you want to be,” she said. “Maybe you want to start a new career, lose weight, stop smoking, or start exercising. Whatever the change is, be sure you understand why you want to make the change.”

Randall explained that your “level of readiness” will determine your success and how long it will take for you to get there.

“Once you make the decision to change, you must practice that new behavior one day at a time until it becomes a habit,” she said, “A lasting change.”

Of course, that’s much easier said than done. So, use the following tips to find out how to truly build healthy habits that will last for life. 

Escape the all or nothing mindset.

Developing long-term healthy habits doesn’t mean you have to give up all of the ‘bad’ stuff entirely and forever. Rene Ficek, a Registered Dietitian and the Lead Nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating explains it terms of adopting healthy eating habits: “Healthy eating doesn't require you to cut out your favorite foods once and for all,” she said. “In fact, telling yourself that you will never have a certain food ever again increases the likeliness of bingeing on that food. It is human nature to want what we are not supposed to have. It is necessary to understand that a healthy diet includes all foods.” She warned against taking diet habits to extremes in hopes of “fast results” and instead suggests working towards goals that fit into a realistic time frame. This same idea applies to all areas of creating a healthier, sustainable lifestyle. Avoid extremes and remember that every small effort is a step in the right direction.

Find the fun in fitness.

Exercise is like sex, if you aren't having fun, you aren't doing it right,” says Jeanette DePatie a plus-sized certified fitness trainer who works to help people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities learn to love exercise. “If you hate it, you won't do it. The right kind of exercise is the one you look forward to doing.”

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