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Forming New Habits

Do you have some bad habits you’d like to get rid of or some new habits you would like to implement?   I imagine that for most of us the answer to that question is an adamant “yes…always!”  Think about it–how many of you plan New Year’s Resolutions or come up with a list of annual goals?  Goal setting is highly effective in itself, mind you, as “people who explicity make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t.”  However, forming habits to accomplish those goals is not always easy to establish, especially those concerning health habits. In fact, the number one New Year’s Resolution to be made and broke is “to lose weight.”  Pair that with the statistic that at least 88 percent of New Year’s Resolutions are never achieved and we could easily return to the conclusion, “What’s the point?!”

That’s where this post comes in.  Throughout this Straggling to Strong Series we are going to be looking at developing several healthy habits. For many of us we have probably heard many of these health suggestions all our lives so we know we need to do them, but when it comes to making those lifestyle changes a habit, life often just seems to get in the way.  If this series is going to make a difference at all, it’s got to start with how we plan to make the change.

If you’ve ever followed Money Saving Mom, you know that she is a big advocate of SMART goals and for good reason.  SMART goals are different from your typical New Year’s Resolution whims.  These goals have weight.  In fact, this guide for goal setting  has been used by Paul J. Meyer, Zig Zigler, and Steven Covey, just to name a few.  As you can tell by their famous names, if it has helped them, then surely this form of goal setting can help us as we form some new healthy habits.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

Smart goals are:

Specific–What do you want to do?  Why do you want to do it?  How will you do it?  
Measurable–How long will it take you to accomplish?  How will you measure your progress on the way?  How will you know when you have accomplished your goal?  Think numbers.  For example, instead of “I want to lose weight this year” say “My goal is to loose 10 pounds this year or 1 pound a week for 10 weeks.”
Achievable–Do you have the knowledge and skills to complete it?  Are you physically able to complete it?  If possible, choose a performance goal over an outcomes goal as these can produce more positive results.
Realistic–Is it something you have the time to complete?  Are you willing and able to accomplish this goal?  Do you have the resources needed to complete this goal?
Timely–Again, think numbers.  Without a set time frame, there is no sense of urgency or motivation to get started.    
 
“Meeting your goals is 90% attitude.”–Dean Anderson
So you’ve created your goals, now comes the next step–turning the behaviors needed to reach those goals into habits.  Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit (no, not 21 days as is the common misconception). That being said, we need to be realistic.  If we are going to form some new healthy habits, these actions are not going to become natural for us overnight.  They may take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to become a habit.  That’s a long time when you are trying to focus on healthy living.  No wonder so many of us fall off the bandwagon by week 4.  After all, we now live in an “I want it now” society and the formation of new habits definitely does not fit that mold.  That said, here are some things we can do to help those habits along:
  1. Express your desired habit in a positive way.  For example, instead of saying “I have to get up really early in the morning,” say “I am looking forward to getting up early in the morning because I will get to have some me-time and God-time before the kids get up.”  That also goes to say, instead of saying you are going to get rid of a bad habit, try focusing on a positive habit to replace the negative one as an action will still be involved.
  2. Be flexible.  Not every day is perfect.  You are going to have some down days.  When someone is overcoming an addictive behavior such as drunkenness, patients are often asked to count how many days they have been sober.  Occasionally patients have set-backs but those that try again often find that following each set-back comes a longer period of sobriety until they have survived years upon years without a drink.  The same goes with those of us forming healthy habits.  After all, that’s all our negative habits (such as the eating of too much sugar or not exercising) are– just another form of an addictive behavior, one that is more accepted in society although not much healthier.  For me, I went 3 days without any form of sugar this week.  Next week I’m hoping for 5.  
  3. Set a plan of action.  How are you going to start to implement the action you want to become a habit?  Will you get up 30 minutes earlier so you can walk on the treadmill before everyone else gets up?  Will you cook all your meals in one sitting and portion them out so you will not go over your calorie count?  What’s your plan?
  4. Connect with positive influences.  Find someone who will help you stay accountable.  Tell them your goals and ask them to check in with you on a regular basis.  You, my friends are my accountability partners.  
  5. Know that it will be uncomfortable for awhile.  Your body may not be used to the exercise or the types of foods you will be choosing to consume.  It takes time for your body to adjust just as it takes time for your mind to adjust.  Don’t worry.  You will eventually get used to it.  In fact, you may even start to like it.  ;)
  6. Celebrate.  Habits are best formed when they are rewarding.  What reward will you give yourself for exercising for 30 minutes 6 days in a row?  21 days?  40 days?  For my reward at the end of these twelve weeks, I look forward to buying a new dress (hopefully a size or two smaller) in preparation for the Christmas season.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”–Aristotle
So, with all that said, how did I do on my journey to instilling some healthy habits in my life this week?  Let’s take a look….

Week 1’s Goals
This week I did great until we went to visit family on Saturday.  Let’s just say that family gatherings, snack tables, and homemade desserts do not make a good combination for someone who is in their first week of trying to eat healthy.  I tried to eat in moderation but for that very fact I didn’t quite accomplish #4.  Even so, I feel pretty good about this week.

  1. Complete Week 7 C25K program using the C25K app.
  2. Begin 7 Weeks to Fitness Prep Week 1.
  3. Drink 96 ounces of water daily.
  4. Choose fruit desserts instead of sugary options.
  5. Sign up for my 5k goal race.

Pounds lost this week: 2 lbs.

Lessons Learned

Monday:
When forming a new eating schedule it may take awhile for your stomach and brain to get used to it.

Tuesday: When you drink a lot of water you go to the bathroom a LOT more.

Wednesday: Stressful situations are my sweet tooth trigger. Ugh.

Thursday: Running does get easier if you stick with it.

Friday: The more you exercise the hungrier you become.

Saturday: Trying out some new scenery can make you run faster or encourage you to go farther than you originally planned.

Sunday:  Sugar is addicting.  Once you have it, you automatically want more.

This Week’s Goals

  1. Complete Week 8  C25K program
  2. Complete Week 2 of  7 Weeks to Fitness Prep Week 2.
  3. Have a fruit dessert every night for supper
  4. Drink 96 ounces of water daily.
  5. Get up consistently by 5:30 a.m. so I have plenty of time to complete my morning routine before the girls wake up

What are your S.M.A.R.T. goals for the week? Do you have any healthy habits you are working on in your life?  If so, please share in the comments below.  Also, this week I hope you’ll create your plan of action and make plans now to share them with us next week.  How are you going to turn those goals into habits?  As the saying goes, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” and we are on our way to change.  We don’t want to fail.  We can’t fail!  With God we can make the change.  Have a great week!

*To view all 19 bloggers who are teaming up for this Get Healthy and Fit Series and gain even more inspiration, be sure to check out their profiles by clicking the button below.  We will also be providing extra inspiration via the Twitter hashtag #healthymomseries and Pinterest board Get Healthy & Fit.

 
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may know what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans12:2



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Comments

  1. says

    If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  2. says

    Your S.M.A.R.T. goals are great! Pesonally, when I focus on my own actions{what I CAN DO} I feel empowered to achieve. When I focus on the numbers on the scale, empowered is not the word I would use. Hope you have an amazing week 2!!

  3. says

    One of the biggest things for me has been framing my goals in a positive manner. I grew up with negative talk and it still comes up for me at times at age 44.

    I’m finding as I increase my weekly mileage that I’m getting hungry again. As Anne mentioned, eating more protein helps. I’m less likely to get a snack in the morning when I eat 2 eggs for breakfast. Drinking water helps a lot, too.

    I would love for you to link this post up to my Motivation Monday linky (http://alifeinbalance.net/motivation-monday-active-kids/) where we talk about healthy living, fitness, personal growth, and healthy recipes. Your post fits right in; in fact, I wish I had written it.

    I’m going to check out the Get Healthy and Fit blogger series. I need that weekly dose of inspiration.

    • says

      Thank you so much for the invite! I’ll be sure to pop over. Hope it inspires others too. Know what you mean about the hunger thing. It’s hard to keep a balance sometimes. Thanks for chiming in!

      Kathy

Trackbacks

  1. […] link in the comments below.  If you are new to goal setting, be sure to check out my post on creating new habits and consider downloading my 2013 Blog-and-Home Notebook which has several goal setting […]

  2. […] link in the comments below.  If you are new to goal setting, be sure to check out my post on creating new habits and consider downloading my 2013 Blog-and-Home Notebook which has several goal setting […]

  3. […] link in the comments below.  If you are new to goal setting, be sure to check out my post on creating new habits and consider downloading my 2013 Blog-and-Home Notebook which has several goal setting […]

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