How To Move Without Pain

Ways to Build Healthy Habits and Stick With Them

by Meghan Griech, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CKTP

This article takes 6 minutes to read

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Making healthy habits that you will stick with is possible. Trying something new is pretty easy, but changing it into a habit is difficult. And making it a change for life that is an automatic part of your day or week takes consistency, work and conscious effort to achieve.

Studies show it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic behavior. Which when you think about it is an amazing amount of time to make a permanent change, since humans are creatures of habit. We get up at the same time, go to be at relatively the same time, drink the same thing each morning and live by patterns of consistency whether conscious decisions or not.

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Changing habits takes self awareness and conscious effort to pay attention to every aspect of your day or at least the aspects you are trying to change.  Make habit changes easier by setting yourself for success the right way, and give yourself the tools to succeed. Having the end result in mind is not going to help you achieve your goals, and more likely will have you failing way before you even hit day 18.

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Ways to achieve healthy habits (and keep them)

Start Small –
tiny habits are achievable and allow you to feel easy successes. If habits are too difficult to achieve or too lengthy then the likelihood of it turning into a prolonged change is going to be very difficult. For example, make a plan to take a short walk to the end of the drive, build to going to the end of the street, then to around the block. Even if there is a day where you are pressed for time or it’s cold, you can still achieve your goal by going at least the shortest distance. 

Stack your habits – The easiest way to form a new habit is to tie it to something you are already doing, if you are heading to the bathroom, make 5 laps around the house before you are allowing yourself to sit.  If you are brushing your teeth, complete heel raises while doing it or quadriceps kicks during commercial breaks.

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Recruit a friend – any change is easier when you have a partner keeping tabs on it with you. Share a google calendar and schedule your new habit together, whether the goal is to drink more water, exercise 3 x a week or read more. 

Keep track – anyone will tell you that when you see the number drop on the scale, you see your progress and you want to keep that going. A lot of habits need tracking – like drinking more water: if you have a goal to drink 64oz a day, then buy a 64oz water bottle or measure the amount into an old milk carton. Each day make a goal to finish the bottle. Step it up a notch: make lines on the bottle as a goal of how much you need to drink each hour, or by lunch time and then again at dinner. 

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Do it every day – no skipsies! A cheat day can really throw off your success if you allow yourself to opt out. Especially in the beginning, keep your habit small and do it every day. Take a walk, complete a journal page, write down everything you eat, keep track of the amount of water you drink , whatever it is you are trying to change – do it everyday.

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Make it Easy – let’s face it, if it’s hard or we need a lot of ‘stuff’ to achieve your goals  – you won’t stick with it. You’ll quit faster than anything else. It’s not a failure, it’s human nature., Researchers have found that new habits are more likely to form when obstacles that stand in the way are removed.  For example: Lay your workout close out the night before, take the walk before you get home from work and are greeted by excited kids

Making changes to be healthier takes consistency, willpower and accountability. You can make healthy habit changes, little by little the change will turn into an automatic.

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*Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended for instruction and informational purposes. The author(s) are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result.  This information is used to supplement not replace any advice you were provided from your doctor or another medical health professional.  No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied with this article.

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