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Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick By Breaking Bad Habits

12/30/2015 02:26 EST | Updated 12/30/2016 05:12 EST
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When it comes to adopting a healthier lifestyle, too many of us get in our own way. we sabotage our own success by being married to unhelpful habits and beliefs.

When I suggest to someone that they modify a behaviour, like substituting eggs for their morning muffin or meeting friends for a walk instead of for a meal, their answer is an immediate and staunch, "I don't do X." -- eat breakfast, get enough sleep, try a particular type of fitness class, etc.

My slightly cheeky (but said with absolute love) response?

"And where has that habit gotten you so far?"

How can you become a healthier version of yourself if you're not willing to question your habits or beliefs and do things differently?

I was inspired to write this blog by a conversation with a friend. She also uses the line, but in her case she uses it as a way to encourage herself to be open to meeting new people and trying new things. I decided that since we both love the line -- though in relation to two very different subjects -- I was destined to blog about it!

Basically, stop being married to what you "do" or "don't do." If you are unhappy with your health (or who you are dating or your job), what you are doing is obviously not helpful or useful!

Actively create the healthier version of yourself that you want to be.

The key word is actively. Adopting a healthier lifestyle isn't a passive process; you have to actively create the healthier version of yourself that you envision.

How to actively create your future you!

1. Stop sabotaging your own success by being married to how you "always do things."

Ask yourself "Where has that belief or habit gotten me?" Don't eat vegetables? In 2016, become someone who does! Don't strength train? Try it. Obviously, don't eat things you are allergic to or do something that will cause injury, but don't let yourself off the hook just because you don't love a particular food or because you don't think you are "someone who goes to the gym."

You can grow to love -- or at least tolerate -- movement, but not if you don't try! Your taste buds can adapt over time -- you are probably currently at least mildly addicted to sugar and salt -- but they will only adapt if you break the addiction. Eat some kale. Even seemingly healthy habits should sometimes be challenged. I find it hard to skip a run, even when I know my body needs a break from the impact. I need to learn to prioritize cross-training, because over-training leads to injury.

2. Stop saying things like "I don't have time this week to work out. I will train next week."

There is never going to be the perfect week to start exercising. Can't get to the gym? Go for a walk. You can always find time to walk for ten minutes, and some movement is better than no movement! One week of inactivity too easily turns into a month of inactivity, and before you know it an entire season has gone by. You feel in worse shape and heavier than ever, which means it is even harder to start training. Just DO SOMETHING!

3. Figure out your WHY.

Find a personal reason why you want to move -- your WHY. Write your dream down. Read it when you need motivation.

Possible WHY goals: Strength train to be strong enough to play with your grandkids. Improve your balance so you don't fall and potentially break something. Train to be fit enough to go on active vacations. Train to decrease pain.

When you want to make an unhealthy choice, use your "why" to talk yourself out of it. Say "I am the person who does do X." For example, I strength train to run injury free for life. When I contemplate skipping a strength day I say to myself, "You are the type of person who will run for her entire life. Do some squats."

4. Flip your negative thoughts! Turn "I don't want to train" into "I am so lucky that I get to train."

When I want to skip a workout I tell myself: "Kathleen, stop being a Negative Nelly. Exercise is not something you have to do; it is something you GET to do! Moving is a privilege. You are so lucky that you get to go for a run today!" Re-frame how you understand working out -- think about being active as something you "get to do" versus something you "have to do."

5. Ask yourself "What type of person do I want to be?"

Structure your life so that you become the person you want to be. Schedule workouts into your calendar. Prepare healthy food in advance. Know you will have moments of low motivation, so don't keep unhealthy food in the house. Plan active outings so your social time doesn't always revolve around food. When you want to make an unhealthy choice -- like skip your workout -- tell yourself, "I am not the type of person who skips their workout. I AM active!" Make yourself act like the future self you want to be.

Main takeaways:

Stop getting in your own way -- if your old habits and beliefs weren't helpful, create new ones. When you feel yourself resisting a healthy change, take a moment to ask yourself, "Where has my current habit gotten me?" Then figure out what new habit would be more useful! Ask yourself "What type of person do I want to be?" Then be it! Take charge of your own health! If you become overwhelmed, don't use fear as a reason to do nothing. Make one healthy choice. Do something, anything -- eat a vegetable; drink a glass of water; go for a walk.

Just START!

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