The lifestyle changes needed to improve our health can be hard to start and sustain. Here are our six steps to making healthy lifestyle changes.
Identify the benefits of change
Think about how your lifestyle is affecting your health and happiness: is your current lifestyle costing you your health? Do you avoid activities or social events due to your health or weight? Would making a change benefit you?
Think about the barriers to change
Identify the barriers to change and think about how you could overcome those barriers. Some changes can be made easily while other changes will take more time. Start with small changes that are easier to achieve.
Make a plan of action
In order to make change, you must plan. Change will involve new behaviours, new routines and forming new habits. Recruit family, friends and colleagues as your support team, or find other ways of ensuring you have support for your changes.
Start your new routine and gradually build up your lifestyle to support your goal. If increased fitness is your goal try to build activity into your routine as well as exercising. For example, add a walk to an outing, walk to the shops or public transport. Try to increase your physical activity in small steps by looking for opportunities to be active every day.
In order to maintain your new lifestyle, you must reward yourself for reaching your goals. Acknowledge and reward your successes in healthy ways – go out with friends, see a movie, have a healthy treat, or do something active and fun.
Manage any relapses
It’s quite normal to find yourself lapsing into old habits. Don’t despair or get too down on yourself. Try to return to your healthy behaviours as soon as possible. Permanent change requires a new behaviour or activity being incorporated into your lifestyle in order to become a habit and part of your daily routine.