The hardest part of a workout routine is sometimes the simple act of getting to the gym. We all know that we should order the salad more often than a burger but it’s not easy to form new, healthy habits and stick to them.
Experts recommend having a few daily non-negotiables is a simple way to keep yourself accountable. Instead of planning every minute of the day, set yourself up for a healthy future by making a short list of achievable goals for each day.
These should be tasks that you can answer with a “yes or a no.” For example, setting a non-negotiable of 10,000 steps per day is a measurable, reasonable goal but setting a nonnegotiable of hiking three miles every day is not realistic for most people.
Goal setting has long been a staple of the health coaches and for a good reason. Most of us are familiar with New Year’s Resolutions but can have trouble following through with huge goals. Experts recommend breaking down goals into smaller, attainable tasks and checking in with yourself often. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds in one year, don’t wait until December to step on the scale. Check in on your progress every 6-8 weeks and make adjustments as needed.
For many of us, it isn’t so much a matter of willpower or resisting the temptation of a second scoop of ice cream, it’s building healthy habits and setting yourself up for success with routines. Simple tasks like having fresh fruit in the fridge or stocking your pantry with healthy options increases the likelihood that you’ll reach for an apple instead of a bag of chips.
Another key way to reduce snacking and help control portions without going on a strict diet is to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating involves all the sense in the experience of eating and forces you to cut down on distractions while enjoying a meal or snack. Instead of eating in the car or while scrolling through Instagram, make your lunch break technology-free and take time to experience the flavors and textures of what you’re eating.
With practice, mindful eating can also help you distinguish between physical hunger cues and stress-eating. It has been shown to help people develop a more positive body image and help people with diabetes control blood sugar levels which is a good practice for maintaining healthy habits.
Set yourself up for success by being prepared in the ways you can – pack your gym clothes in your car and stash a high-quality protein bar in your desk to avoid the lure of office donuts. Simple actions like signing in for a workout class or meeting a friend for a walk instead of a coffee date can add up.
In healthy habits, even small amounts of exercise, like a walk to and from the store, have positive effects. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, helps maintain bone mass, and can even help you get a more restful night’s sleep. Studies have shown that walking, one of a good healthy habits, is a low-risk activity that can reduce the risk of chronic illness and increase lifespan.
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