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2 Things You Need to Build Healthy Habits

By Tasha McRae

Why is it that despite good intentions and a real desire to change, most people fizzle out when it comes to building healthy habits? This cycle of starting up and fizzling out on an attempted lifestyle change is so common that we’ve given it a name, The Fizzle Factor™. But why is it that we fizzle out? It can’t possibly be that we are all lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined or misinformed. In fact, we are very motivated. The health and fitness industry is booming as people spend their hard-earned dollars looking for ways to prevent lifestyle-related illnesses. We are inundated with information in magazines and social media on how to live a healthier life and therefore, we are quite aware that exercising, healthy eating, reducing our stress and sleeping better are smart choices, yet these habits remain elusive. Why is it that we have such a hard time turning good intentions into long term action? For years we, at LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic, have been focused on helping our members master healthier lifestyles that won’t fizzle out. In that time, we have learned that two factors, which are often missing in health and fitness programs, are critical for success - focus and accountability.

1: Get Focused

The biggest mistake we see people make is trying to change too many things at once. Naturally, people are eager to see results and therefore, they take on drastic or elaborate plans for change. With this all or none approach, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted. Many of us have lots of things we would like to change and many ideas about what might work, but by trying to tackle too many things at once, we can inadvertently smother our efforts. The key to successfully changing your lifestyle is to focus on only one or two new habits at a time. Not only do we need to focus on a small number of changes, but we also need to focus on specific behaviors. For example, choosing to eat better is far too broad of a goal. Focusing on cutting down on sugar-sweetened beverages is much more specific and allows us to focus our efforts. This focused strategy can make it feel like you are not doing enough in the short-term, but in the long-term it will allow you to do more as you reduce the Fizzle Factor™. Building a healthy lifestyle one focused step after another is the secret to success.

2: Find Accountability

Very few of us are good at being accountable to ourselves but most of us are very good at ensuring we don’t let others down. This is why we recommend finding a supportive community of people who help you stay accountable. In an ideal world, this community would include friends, family members, and groups of like-minded individuals. It would also connect you with a coach who is focused on helping you plan and navigate the challenges that inevitably arise when trying to create lifestyle changes. A strong community can help us stay inspired, motivated and focused. Be sure that you are surrounding yourself with the right people to support your journey. People who will celebrate your efforts and not let you give up when things get tough.

Next time you are inspired to make a lifestyle change remember that focus and accountability are keys to sustainable long term success. Lifestyle change is simple but it is not easy. By creating focus and accountability in your plan you increase your chances of avoiding the Fizzle Factor™ and achieving a healthier version of yourself.

Tasha McRae, BHK, ACSM, CES/CET, is a certified exercise physiologist and Director of Culture & Talent at LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic