If you are serious about any of the changes you would like to make in your life; eating healthier, exercising more, ridding yourself of needless stress, etc., you will need to change your current behavior by forming new habits. And yes, it’s not too late to make lasting changes regardless of your age. The trick is to do them long enough that the changes become healthy habits.
If you’ve heard the rule that you can make or break a habit in 21 days or even 6 weeks, they are both wrong. Science has proven it takes 66 days to form a new habit. That’s a little over two months you’ll need to stick with any program to be successful. Knowing up front how long you need to stick with something will help keep you motivated and have realistic expectations.
You can dive in and incorporate all five changes into your life or pick one to master before moving on. Most likely any goals will be more attainable by adopting one or all of these five healthy habits. Get started tomorrow and turn your health and well-being around for good.
If one of your goals is to eat healthier, you will need to plan what you are going to eat. And unless you have a lot of time on your hands or just love going to the grocery store, you’ll need to plan out a week’s menu and buy groceries. We’ve all heard how we need to set aside some time Sunday afternoon to prep vegetables, etc. to make weekday meals easier and it’s true.
You can’t and won’t eat right if you don’t have healthy foods at the ready when you get hungry. For some great tips on food prep, check out The Lean Green Bean. Another option is to buy food already prepped. More and more grocery stores are offering pre-packaged vegetables ready for sauteing or grilling.
You can also simplify your life by deciding what you’ll wear the next day before you go to bed. Knowing what suit, dress or casual clothing you’ll be wearing tomorrow means you can also decide on what bag to carry. Most of us have a closet full of purses that rarely see the light of day because we don’t have time in the morning to switch them out.
With a planned outfit and accessories, you’ll feel more pulled together all day long. You’ll also want to have whatever papers, computer, etc. you might need in one place with your car keys so you don’t forget them when you head out the door in the morning.
2. Don’t waste your morning
Not having to rush out the door every morning is one of the luxuries many of us who are over 50 enjoy. It is one of the perks of getting older because we’re either well established in a career that doesn’t require us to punch a clock or retired to interests that don’t require a rigid schedule. However, how we spend our mornings can set us up for success or failure for the day. If you are rushing around every morning without time to to center yourself or get in a bit of exercise, you might need to consider getting up earlier.
3. Meditate for 5 minutes or more
Meditation may take the form of prayer if you have a faith and/or it may be simply taking 5 minutes and doing some simple breathing exercises. Inhale slowly to the count of four and exhale to the count of four. If you concentrate on your breathing, you can keep your mind clear.
The benefits of meditation are well proven. Studies show that meditation not only lowers blood pressure but can also improve your immune system. Meditation improves both physical and mental responses to stress, as does prayer. Both narrow your focus and shut out the external world allowing your body and mind to be still. If you aren’t regularly spending 5 minutes, preferably in the morning, in prayer or meditation, give it a try. The results can be profound.
4. Exercise for 30 minutes most days, if not every day
Starting your day with something as simple as a 30 minute walk can make you feel better all day long. Even if you suffer from arthritis or other illnesses that make it hard to get moving in the morning, a walk can be very effective by getting the blood circulating. It will also awaken the mind, increase your energy level and help regulate your sleep patterns. And the best news is exercise will jump-start your metabolism for the day!
Once you get in the habit of starting the day with some cardio you may want to alternate days with some weight lifting or circuit training. Getting in your exercise first thing in the morning also means you’ve gotten it out of the way, and if the rest of your day turns out differently than you had planned, you won’t have missed your exercise regimen.
5. Get rid of expectations
Letting go of your expectations of others and yourself can be the most liberating habit you’ll ever form. We have a tendency to interject our egos into situations, often trying to seize control. Get rid of any unrealistic expectations you have of others and don’t let others burden you with their unrealistic expectations either.