Getting healthier is one of the top resolutions people make at the start of a new year. While kicking off the New Year is a great time to set healthy goals, it’s more about making your lifestyle choices become long-term healthy behaviors. It’s not just about losing weight or going to the gym five days a week—it’s more about overall wellness. Your lifestyle is a huge factor in longevity, and it plays a big part in living a long, healthy, and happy life. So, here are nine tips to help you turn your resolutions into lifelong behavioral changes.
Involve the outdoors as much as possible.
Most of us have been wonderstruck by nature at some point. Connecting with the outdoors more often delivers multiple physical and mental benefits beyond scenery and fun. Whether it’s conquering trails and unnamed peaks, walking next to a Zen-like stream, watching the sunset over the ocean, running on backcountry trails, or even hearing wind blow through trees at sunrise, being outdoors makes you feel energized and alive. There is a wealth of research focused on the “nature connection” and how it affects our health, outlook, and overall life.
Make real use of your vision and affirmations.
Post pictures and sticky notes in your house, by your alarm, and in your car. This will help you avoid negative power and remember ways you always want to feel about yourself. A good example is a hiking photo that embodies that thriving feeling. Seeing this photo posted in your kitchen will give you a jolt of empowerment every time you look at it.
Be open and flexible to change.
Once you fall into a routine, it’s comfortable because it becomes a habit. The concern with habits is getting stuck in a rut, which leads to a plateau. If you run daily, mix it up with snowshoeing, mountain biking, or outdoor yoga. Change up your routine and prevent plateaus.
Learn what success looks like.
Try to have a broad vision of your overall health goals. Many people focus just on weight loss, overlooking so many of the other areas you are improving on. These include increased endurance, improved mood, better sleep quality, increased energy, improved skin, great food choices, improved digestion, etc.
Plan ahead and have a backup plan.
You can’t always predict Mother Nature. What if you wake up to pouring rain? You don’t want this to be your deal-breaker. By planning ahead and investing in appropriate gear, running in the rain can be a blast. If running in the rain still isn’t your thing, research and have backup workouts so you are well prepared to carry on with your day, instead of just hitting the snooze button.
Most people get too fixated on their flaws and think about what still has to be accomplished. Instead of focusing on what you have not finished, embrace self-compassion. Simply put, this is the ability to accept shortcomings with kindness and understanding. Things will not always go the way you want them to go, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Try keeping a daily journal in which you process the difficult events and enhance both physical and mental well-being.
Track yourself: Journal daily.
Think short-term goals. These are much easier to keep, and each of these small accomplishments will help you stay motivated. Plus, your behavior change will happen smoother and more naturally. Having a journal is a great way to keep you focused and on track. Make note of foods that made you feel great, a song that pumped you up during your trail run, etc. Take time weekly or monthly to review old entries, and highlight tools that helped you achieve your goals. Use the past to create your best future.
Make your goals public: Find a support system.
It’s always more fun to share and connect with others who know your goals and can support and hold you accountable. Communicate daily and share one of your achievements and one of your intensions for the next day. Also, think about blogging your healthy journey—people love to be inspired.
Enjoy small rewards.
Everyone loves a pat on the back, and even the smallest of rewards can work wonders as you travel from milestone to milestone. However, try to approach your goals from a position of possibilities. It’s important to find ways to use regular rewards to pat yourself on the back and give a word of encouragement. Pay the most attention to what you are doing right. Although brutal honesty is good for getting you moving, a positive approach will keep your motivation sustained as well as keep you from burning out.