Forming new habits
Do you ever look at yourself and think I really need to make some changes. Throughout my life I have tried to live an active and healthy lifestyle but certain situations get in the way and impact, any positive changes I have made. Apparently the 21/90 rule created by Maxwell Maltz in the 1950’s states that “it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change.” Research also, claims that “it only takes 3 days to break a habit.” If this is true, it proves that it’s a lot harder to create a habit and no time at all to break it. This is where our will power and determination have to come in to it. Starting any new habits are really hard in the beginning because we have to learn a new way of living. I don’t know about anyone else but boredom sets in really quickly with me, I have the attention span of a 🐟 (5 seconds) things need to keep me really entertained to keep me going with them, to form any proper habits.
Plan and Track progress
There are certain things in life that are not really an option though, like our health and wellbeing. If we want to feel good, we really have to put in the effort to make it work, even though we know it takes our energy, time and is going to be really hard. Some of the best ways to start any new journey is to start small and make little goals, being really clear about what we want to achieve, how we plan to achieve it and within what time. This gives us a clear plan on what we need to do. Tracking our progress is vital, to show us how we achieved something or any mistakes we made along the way. An example of this is ‘an athlete that tracks his time on a scorecard and keeps practicing to try and beat his current score‘ or ‘someone on a weight loss journey, that takes before and after photos,’ this is a way of motivating us to reach our goals. By tracking our progress it helps us develop and learn, to make further goals that will eventually turn into healthy habits. Bill Copeland (2021) mentions Professor Robert S. Rubin’s (1981) SMART acronym, to achieve goals. He stated that “goals need to be clear and reachable, and each one should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
There is also, SMARTER an updated version, to add on Evaluated and Reviewed. As feedback is important, to help us move forward with anything in life, we should always assess and review tasks to check we are doing things right.
Having a purpose
Another really important point to mention is about creating a healthy personality, where we are able to express our emotions, have faith in our own abilities, learn different coping mechanisms and feel good in our bodies. This can promote satisfaction in our lives, help us adjust to situations, help us improve our self esteem and help us to regulate certain behaviours. Creating challenges for ourselves is healthy for our mind and body, it keeps us proactive, this is beneficial for long term effects. As we age our bodies become more prone to injuries and our memories are not as good, as when we were younger. Balance is also, really crucial for all ages, by learning to keep our balance we can prevent many injuries or falls and strengthen and tone our muscles to make us stronger. Also, learning to maintain a healthy weight and BMI results in less illnesses or disorders, that affect how we feel. Having a purpose in life is something we should all be aiming for, whether it’s something small or big it gives us something to focus on and to work towards.
Healthy eating habits
There’s many ways we can change our eating habits, by taking small steps we can overhaul our whole diet. The most important meal of the day is breakfast apparently, ‘One in 5 brits skip breakfast and do not have their first meal until midday.’ (Mirror, 2020) this can result in low motivation and less energy, it can also result in overeating or snacking. A good option is to prepare home made meals in advance and freeze them ready for work or when you get home. This is more cost effective and saves time. Using natural ingredients means we have all the goodness and nutrients, that we don’t get from processed foods. We should try to eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, a variety of proteins, wheats, carbohydrates, use healthy oils and reduce the amount of sugars and processed foods we eat as they leave us feeling sluggish. We should also, not count calories as not all food is equal, researchers suggest we ‘count colours instead.’ For healthy meals check out some of these websites: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/quick-and-healthy-recipes
I will now discuss eating disorders, that I believe are becoming more and more popular, due to the way everyone lives these days. We all allow food to control us at certain times in life, whether we want to lose a few pounds or whether we have over indulged. Sometime though, our eating habits can lead to unhealthy habits and addictions. I will now discuss these in more detail.
When it comes to food some people become emotional eaters; they eat to suppress negative emotions because of boredom, loneliness and stress. This can impact on the way they look, feel and behave. These people need to be taught ways to deal with their emotions, rather than turning to food. We shouldn’t judge people that are dealing with problems with food, we should promote healthy habits in a positive way and offer support when needed. Most people don’t understand anything about healthy eating and they need to be taught the basics first and encouraged to try new foods. We need to explain to them that they are able to eat a range of foods but in moderation.
Orthorexia is when someone has an unsafe obsession with healthy foods. Where they will only eat foods, that they believe are good for them. They cut out foods that they think will make them gain weight or make them feel awful but by doing this, they are often missing important nutrients needed for growth and development. They do this as another way of coping with negative thoughts and feelings, it is similar to Anorexia in many ways. The long term effects can cause long term illnesses, physical conditions and mental health problems.
Many gym goers become physically fit and healthy by working out and healthy eating but they to, can develop disorders. One that many men have is Bigorexia this is a body dysmorphic disorder, where they think their body is too small, not muscular enough and that their body doesn’t look right. These problems can change the way they behave and some abuse steroids to develop the body they want, it can lead to depression or even suicide. They will spend many hours in the gym, pushing their bodies too hard and they repeat this everyday, until they are satisfied with how they look or until they cause long term injuries, that prevents them from working out.
Every one of these disorders along with all the recognised eating disorders, such as Bulimia and Anorexia can cause major problems for a person living with them. They will often not realise they have a problem and will not listen to advice from others. These disorders are similar to addictions such as alcohol or smoking, where they cannot help how they are feeling and behaving and cannot easily stop themselves being the way they are. They will often need help or support to overcome these disorders and for people to be patient and empathetic to their needs. It’s not an easy journey to get over an eating disorder and can take time, if you know someone struggling with these try offering them some help. Contact details can be found at the bottom of page if anyone needs help.
We should all be trying to develop a workout schedule, so that we manage to make exercise an important part of our lives everyday. The perfect way to create a good schedule, would be to consider a mix of cardio, strength training and rest days, depending on your overall goals. If you want to see good results, you should aim for around four to five days a week of physical exercise. If you exercise, just to keep active then two to three days a week is sufficient enough. Try considering working out with your partner or friends for a better experience or being outside. Evidence suggests ‘we work harder when with someone else,’ ‘it’s more affordable’ and ‘is good for peoples mental health.’ (Better health, 2020)
For beginners I would suggest working out for 20-30 mins at a time, even if you just move around for 30 minutes a day its better than nothing. Remember the 80/20 rule for any new lifestyle change, they should involve 80% diet and 20% exercise as they should work together for better results. Also, all workouts should usually involve a warm up between 3 to 10 minutes and at the end a cool down of around 10 minutes. Also, water is vital to keep hydrated because we lose lots of water while we sweat when working out. Researchers often suggest 8 pints of water a day but not everyone can drink this amount daily, just drink whatever you can manage.
Some exercises anyone can try:
- Wall Sit
- Push ups
- Toe touch crunches
- Mountain climbers
- Jumping jacks
- Butt kicks
Try doing between 10-20 of a couple of these daily and watch the results, good luck with your journey! Don’t forget for anyone starting a new fitness journey, you should check with your Gp that your ok, to start certain exercises or diets.
Learn something new
Life can be very stressful and really boring on times, finding hobbies that we enjoy should be a priority. We all deserve time spent on ourselves, doing something that we enjoy. The World Health Organisation (WHO), (2021) has issued guidance on how people can look after their mental health. Key advice includes “trying to keep a regular pattern of eating, sleeping, hygiene and exercise” but a less obvious recommendation is “to make sure you’re still finding time to do the things you enjoy.” Research shows that “having a hobby is linked to lower levels of depression – and may even prevent depression for some.”
I believe that no matter what journey we are all on, we all face difficult times. Some people have better coping mechanisms than others, it doesn’t make them stronger or better than anyone else it just means that they have found what works best for them. Creating healthy habits takes time and I believe it’s time we should all be investing in, to improve ourselves. Healthy habits don’t have to be massive challenges, such as giving up an addiction it can also, be minor challenges like moving a bit more each day or eating something healthy every day. Remember a healthy life, is a happy life! 😃 or as some men say A happy wife, is a happy life! 😱
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BBC Good Food (2020), Quick and healthy recipes found at: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/quick-and-healthy-recipes
Better Health (2020) Exercise with a friend found at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Exercise-with-a-friend
Bill Copeland (2021) SMART Goals, How to make your goals attainable?
Eating disorders helpline (2021) found at: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/helplines/ contact: 0808 801 0677 Studentline: 0808 801 0811 Youthline: 0808 801 0711
- Adult email support is open to anyone over 18:
- Studentline email support is open to all students:
- Youthline email support is open to anyone under 18:
Parents, teachers or any concerned adults, should call the adult Helpline.
Eating Well (2021), 20 Healthy Meals you can make in 20 minutes found at: https://www.eatingwell.com/gallery/13723/20-healthy-meals-you-can-make-in-20-minutes/
Jamie Oliver (2020) Easy healthy recipes found at: https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/course/quick-healthy-recipes/
NHS (2021) Healthy recipes/ Change 4 life found at: https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/recipes
University of Reading, The WHO (2021), The Science behind why hobbies can improve our mental health found at: https://research.reading.ac.uk/research-blog/the-science-behind-why-hobbies-can-improve-our-mental-health/