Healthy habits are not created overnight. It takes continual effort to make change, and this is not always comfortable at first. Whenever you are looking to reach a goal, the small changes you make on a daily basis are going to add up to progress over time. The more consistent you are with the health habits you create, the more successful you will be in reaching your goals. I am going to give you a few examples of how to create a life of consistent habits.
A major goal I see patients setting is for losing weight. I always encourage people to also find other motivating goals besides the number on the scale. These goals may look like “more mobility, more energy, less pain, etc.” Picking small changes and doing them consistently will lead to change over time. A small goal you could set may be exercising for 20 minutes, four days out of the week (you can always increase this goal later). Another could be, add one serving of fiber from vegetables to your daily diet. Cut down on simple carbohydrates by limiting the servings to two per day for example, from whole grain sources like quinoa, brown rice, or root vegetables. If you weigh yourself too often this will drive you crazy. It is more realistic to check in once a week or every other week to gain a sense of progress, this is because the body fluctuates from water retention so much during the day.
Another goal I help patients achieve is to get better quality sleep. Sleep is so important for the body and brain to heal, reset, and recover. If you are not getting good quality sleep, you may feel tired, irritable, age faster, gain more weight, have higher blood pressure, among other health concerns. Going to bed at a consistent time every night will help your biological clock to stay in rhythm. This is also true on the weekends, you cannot make up for lost sleep. Try to wind down 30 minutes before you intend to go to bed. This may look like shutting off electronics that interfere with melatonin production. You can also drink a nervine tea like chamomile instead of alcohol before bedtime, that really supports relaxation. Other relaxing supports include taking a hot bath, lavender essential oil inhalation, and meditation. Making consistent sleep habits makes for a more restful mind and body.
Give some thought about what habits you can create that will lead to a health goal. What small changes can you make on a regular basis that will lead you toward the right direction? Give yourself time, be patient, because consistent change is the key to a healthy life.
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic primary care doctor at Tree of Health in Woodinville, WA. To learn more go to www.treeofhealthmedicine.com