The small habits you should focus on to reach your health and fitness goals

focus on the steps that will lead you to the goal, not the goal itselfLast week I wrote about why we need to get obsessed with consistency and the actions that feed the goal instead of focusing so much on the final product when it comes health and fitness. So what are those little habits and actions we should be getting obsessed with in order to reach our goals?

Obviously this is going to vary from person to person based on your past histories and current habits. But here’s my attempt at coming up with a general list of habits to work on changing and how you can start to take the steps to do that, based on some of the barriers I’ve seen with clients and some I’ve encountered myself.

I’ve grouped them into three categories: exercise, nutrition and mental health, or what I like to call the Self-Care Trifecta. Getting a handle on these three things is a lifelong process, and sometimes I find we focus too much on one for too long while ignoring the others. Though balancing all three is a mighty challenge (and one I don’t think we’ll ever be able to do at the same time), having the Trifecta tip in three directions throughout your day, week or month is better than having it just topple over to one side completely.

Since trying to form too many new habits at once is overwhelming and generally doesn’t work, I would pick ONE habit out of all three of the categories to work on for a month. Then for the next month, continue your chosen habit (or take it up a level) and add in another habit from a different category. I’m going to be facilitating something similar to this using a habit changing worksheet with my Koru Personal Training January Facebook Challenge Group next year (sign up at the link if you’re interested!), but here’s a sample of just some of the things you can choose to focus on for 30 days:

Exercise

  • Go for one 15-minute walk per day
  • Do 5 squats in the bathroom just before you step into the shower in the morning, another 5 when you get out, and another 5 before you head out the door in the morning to get to work
  • Do 3 sun salutations when you first get out of bed in the morning or in the kitchen while you’re making breakfast each day
  • Get out for a 10-minute walk on your lunch of coffee break during the work week
  • Lay out your workout clothes/pack your gym bag the night before on days you plan to exercise
  • Go for a 20-minute walk after dinner 3 nights out of the week
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier and set your alarm to wake up 30 minutes earlier during the work week (to ease into making time for morning exercise)

Nutrition

  • Buy a large, 24 oz. stainless steel water bottle and make it your goal to have to refill it 3 times a day
  • Drink an 8 oz. glass of water with lemon as soon as you wake up in the morning
  • Set your breakfast-making supplies out the night before 5 days a week
  • Have at least one serving of vegetables with at least 2 meals per day, 5 days a week
  • Pack carrot sticks, snap peas, and celery with a small container of hummus as a snack to have on hand at work at least twice a week
  • Buy a bag of bulk almonds and bring them to work to munch on when you get hungry instead of snacking on candy and other office treats for 4 days of the week
  • Replace your post-lunch calorie-dense sweet treat at work with a piece of fruit (an apple, orange, pear or banana) or fruity chewing gum

Mental Health

  • Set a reminder on your phone to buzz 3 times a day with the words “relax and take a breathe”
  • As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, think to yourself, I feel so grateful for another day on this beautiful planet
  • Before you hop out of bed in the morning, take 3 deep, belly breaths
  • Find the best time of day and place to sit in silence and focus on breathing for 5 minutes – maybe first thing in the morning, in your car before you leave for work, or just before bed
  • At the end of each day, write down 3 things you were grateful for that day
  • Go for a 10-minute walk outside 5 days of the week
  • Shut down all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed (and work towards an hour!)

I highly recommend getting a training journal (or any ol’ means of writing stuff down) to track your progress each and every day while you’re focusing on your habit change or adoption. I find a visual reference very helpful, as it helps you identify progress barriers, discover what helps you overcome them, and allows you to see how far you’ve come.

What healthy habit change have you tried? Did it work? Do you have any other small habits to suggest other than what I’ve listed here? What have you found to be your biggest barrier when it comes to trying to change or adopt a new habit?

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