Most of the people, when for example trying to lose weight, are aware of new behaviors they have to adopt. We all know if you want to lose weight you should eat more fruit and vegetables, avoid fast food, drink more water, reduce soft drinks, avoid sugar, etc. But if until now your favorite food has been pizza, chocolate, hamburgers with pommes frites and ice-cream (in combination with a sedentary lifestyle), it will be extremely hard to make the wanted new behaviors the ingrained habits. So rather than attempt to change a complete lifestyle at once, you will need to take it slowly, one step at a time.
Here is the plan: the only way to form long-lasting habits is by focusing on one habit at a time, one month at a time. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology showed that on average it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic! So it is no wonder all those New Year’s resolutions fall into the water in the beginning of February.
So if your goal is, for example, to lose 5 kilograms you might consider one healthy habit you want adopt (like replacing soft drinks with water) and practice it for one month (only this one habit). When you first start to apply this principle, you should start with something that is not too complicated for you. Later, when you’re good at habit changes, you can choose something harder. Fitness coaches will testify from their experience there is a big chance of failure in trying to adopt multiple habits at once. On the other hand, research has shown that when people try to change a single behavior at a time, a success rate is better than 80 percent.
Your goal should be measurable; for example, if you choose to walk more every day set a number of minutes or something similar (a least 30 minutes a day). And do not forget, the habit will be created only if it is repeated consistently – every day if possible.
For example, you might start with:
Increasing your fruit and veggie intake to 5 servings per day
Eating whole grain products like whole grain pasta or bread; brown rice instead of white rice, etc.
Eating lean protein with each meal
Exercise 20 minutes every day
Or choose something what is more appropriate for you.
Some authors suggest going public with your goals, like those people who post their weight loss progress on Facebook or Instagram. While some people may find this helpful, negative social response (like a negative comment) might create additional barriers to success.
Other authors suggest to make this new goal a competition. It seems that for some people a bit of competition drives them to go further than they would usually do. You can ask your friends to join you, or you can find people with help of social media and apps. This up to an individual to decide whether this will work for them or not.
At last, be prepared you will probably experience setback now and then, but you should acknowledge them and move on. It is all a part of the process.