It’s important to remember that adopting healthy habits is an individual process. When you find a healthy lifestyle that you love, it’s only natural that you want to share it with others. Not everyone approaches health in the same way or makes changes at the same rate. It’s easy to come across as more of a coach than a cheerleader, instantly turning your friends off from your advice. However, gentle nudges of encouragement are often necessary to help others get on a healthy track. Try a few of these healthy ways to motivate your friends.
Create an open invitation for exercise.
Chances are that a friend may turn down your first few invitations to exercise together. Spend some time considering why, and look beyond their initial excuse. Maybe he doesn’t like morning exercise, or maybe she is intimidated by the level of group exercise classes you now attend. Instead of inviting friends to come with you to your workouts, consider offering to attend a session that is a better match for their fitness level. Attend a beginner class, or consider a dance class or hiking group that is new to both of you. Try several approaches and be sure to keep the invitation open. People reach the point of action at different times. You never know when a friend will be ready to start exercising and finally take you up on your offer.
Live by example.
Motivating someone to join you in adopting healthier habits requires a careful balance. If you are too preachy and over enthusiastic, you can appear unapproachable or even condescending. Often, motivating another person requires no talking at all. When you make healthy food choices, commit to your workouts, and show your healthy attitude, the people around you are watching. When they see the positive influence these changes have made on your quality of life, it may be what they need to make those same changes for themselves.
Seeing results has a big influence on your attitude, and once you reach your fitness goals, things will have never looked better. It’s easy to forget the hardships you overcame when you finally see success. Your positive attitude can be encouraging to others, but it may also make them feel like they could never do what you did. Be honest and express how difficult it was to reach your goal. Discuss the ups and downs and how you got through them. This will keep you approachable and real to those you are trying to help. Once they can picture how you overcame your challenges, they will see how they can accomplish the same thing.
The worst thing you can do is get a friend fired up about healthy eating and exercise, and then drop the ball on them. Don’t be the friend that forgets to show up for planned workouts, or who is constantly canceling at the last minute. While a friend can’t rely on you to always keep them motivated, you may be an essential part of getting them started towards a healthier lifestyle.
Motivation can fluctuate as you work towards your goals. Each day, you are changing. As a result, the same things that motivated you in the beginning may no longer spark your interest. If you find that your excitement for exercise and healthy eating is dwindling, it’s time to find a new source for motivation.
Pick an Unfamiliar Goal
Losing weight, toning up, and gaining muscle are familiar goals for most people. Unfortunately, they are rarely enough to keep you going, even after seeing progress. A goal that forces you to step out of your comfort zone is what you need to truly get excited about healthy activities. Sign up for a special cooking class or technique like making sushi, Thai cooking, gluten-free baking, or vegetarian cooking. Pick an exercise that you've always wanted to to try, and set a goal that finally makes you take the first step. Conquer a hike on a well-known trail, or add swimming and biking to your routine and sign up for a triathlon.
Seek Out Group Support
Everyone needs support to stick with healthy habits. You don’t have to exercise with someone everyday, but checking in with others and discussing your progress keeps you motivated and on track. Sharing tips and tricks with others and gathering new ideas keeps things interesting. Find groups that meet regularly to hike, play a sport, or join a health and fitness book club. Sharing your success helps you refocus on what is important so that you can maintain your progress.
Plan a Healthy Month on the Calendar
Brainstorm some healthy activities that you enjoy. Create a calendar, and assign one of these activities to each day. They might include things like do yoga for 30 minutes in the morning, relax and read a book for 15 minutes, stretch at the office, or cook a new vegetable. These mini-goals will keep you looking forward to something new each day. Ask friends to join you, and consider adding a healthy reward for accomplishing everything at the end of each week or the month.
Book a Self-care Day
Plan a day from start to finish that includes all of the healthy activities you love. Put it on your calendar, and reserve this time for yourself to reflect on your progress and your goals. A healthy day might include taking an early morning nature walk followed by a visit to your favorite coffee shop for reading. Next, make a healthy lunch at home and then schedule a massage, or do something that makes you laugh, like seeing the latest comedy. End the day with a healthy dinner and a calming meditation or yoga practice. A day spent taking care of yourself can refresh your outlook and renew your motivation.
Make a Change
Think of one change you can make that would switch up your normal routine. Maybe you swap evening workouts for morning workouts, add a group exercise class to your program, or eat fish at least three nights a week. These minor changes can get you out of a rut and renew your excitement about a healthy lifestyle.
Cleanse and Purge
This kind of cleansing and purging has nothing to do with your eating plan. It’s about simplifying your life so that you can focus on the things that improve your health. Donate old clothes that no longer fit, and get rid of old tennis shoes that are worn out. Clutter can cause stress, which influences emotional eating. Clean your office, rearrange your workout room, and get organized. A fresh environment can lift your mood and renew your motivation.
Boredom is often the one simple reason many people turn to excess snacking. Without something to occupy your time, it is easy to fool yourself into thinking you are truly hungry. Even if you choose nutritious snacks, eating when you aren’t hungry and eating too much are not healthy practices. Go from bored to productive and save on calories with these ideas.
Make a Plan
Grab your notepad or your smartphone, and get busy making lists and planning. Make your grocery list for the week, map out your workouts for the next month, check off what you’ve accomplished today, and update your food diary and exercise log. Not only will these activities keep you away from the snack bag, they will promote organization, which is a big part of a healthy lifestyle.
You don’t need a special spot or an instructor to meditate. You can sit quietly, breathe deeply, and close your eyes at any point throughout the day. Whether it is 5 or 30 minutes, this quiet time will calm you and help you regain the focus you need to make healthy decisions.
Whether you are sitting or standing, a quick stretch will help you feel rejuvenated and get your mind off of snacking. Simple side bends, touching your toes, and flexing your feet can elongate and energize the muscles. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds and breathe deeply.
Read Five Pages
We all have a book we’d like to finish, but have little time to sit down and read. Keep your book or tablet nearby for when boredom strikes. Even if you can only get through a few pages, your mind will move away from snacking and you will be that much closer to your reading goal.
Assess Your Progress
Evaluating your progress is an essential part of reaching your health goals, but time can fly by quickly making it easy to skip this step. When you feel boredom coming on, use this time to record your measurements and evaluate your workouts or eating plan. You can even drop down and do a set of push-ups or crunches to assess how much you’ve improved. Not only will your boredom disappear, but seeing your progress will help keep you on track with healthy eating.
Everyone has past goals they did not accomplish. Stop beating yourself up about the 5 pounds you didn't lose before vacation or the 10K race you didn't finish. Dwelling on those things only creates barriers between you and your fitness potential. Wipe the slate clean, and start from scratch with your goal planning. Assess where you are in your fitness journey, and set your goals based on who you are today.
Focus On Motivating Activities
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but that doesn't mean you have to love every activity. If you struggle to find exercises that you enjoy, start evaluating what motivates you. What puts you in a good mood and increases your energy levels? Is it being surrounded by nature or an upbeat song? Maybe you are energized by being with others or feel renewed after spending time alone. All of these factors can help you determine the right exercise for you. Also remember that not all workouts have to take place in a gym. Hiking or trail running may be the perfect fit. Maybe hip-hop or ballroom dance classes would make you excited to get moving. Focus on what uplifts your spirits and motivates you, and then set your fitness goals around these activities.
Find a Balance and Push Yourself
The general guideline still stands that your goal should be achievable. When you set unrealistic goals like losing 10 pounds in a week or trying to run a 5K with no training, you only set yourself up to fail. At the same time, safely pushing yourself can force you to step out of your comfort zone and accomplish more than you thought possible.
Your goals should have balance. They need to be achievable, but just far enough out of your reach that they motivate you. Have you always wondered if you could run a half marathon? You can. People just like you do it every day. The key is to find the right training plan that will help you prepare based on your current fitness level. Want to squat huge weights like the bodybuilders that motivate you? Pick up a barbell you can handle now and work your way up. Everyone has to start somewhere and push themselves to reach challenging goals.
Pick One and Be Specific
Having too many lofty goals can complicate your efforts. You will struggle with which to focus on, and you may not achieve any of them. Pick the one thing you want to accomplish. It might be for this quarter or for this year. Avoid general goals like losing weight or healthier eating. What is the one goal that will truly influence your health? For example, cutting out soda will have several benefits. If you don't replace those calories, you will lose weight. You will also reduce your added sugar intake and reduce your intake of caffeine. This is an example of a specific goal that will result in the general positive changes you seek.
Foods that fill you up faster and keep you feeling full longer help to decrease your calorie intake. With a few simple steps and minor changes to your meals and snacks, you can feel full with less food.
Eating quickly may cause you to consume more food than you realize. When you don’t take the time to focus on your meal, it’s harder to enjoy the taste and texture of each bite. Not only does this make the meal less satisfying, it disconnects you from your hunger and fullness cues. When you eat slowly, a practice common in mindful eating , it forces you to stop and evaluate how you feel throughout the meal.
Hormones are released and signaling occurs when you eat and the food is digested. These signals indicate to the brain that you have had enough. This can be easily overlooked if you are eating too quickly. You will fill up before your fullness is registered, leading to an increase in the calories you consume. Research has shown that eating more slowly results in feeling full sooner, and a decreased food and calorie intake.
Eat whole foods
A whole food is a food in it’s natural form versus it being heavily processed. For example, whole fruits and vegetables instead of juice. These whole foods contain dietary fiber and water, and they are larger in volume. All of these characteristics contribute to the ability of whole foods to fill you up and keep you fuller longer. Research shows that eating foods that are higher in volume, but lower in calorie density, results in eating less at a meal and throughout the rest of the day.
Add more lean protein
Research shows that including more lean protein in your meals and snacks can help you feel full. It may be even more beneficial if you include protein at breakfast. A study that compared women who ate a protein-rich breakfast with eggs versus a higher carbohydrate breakfast with bagels found that the protein-rich breakfast helped the women feel more satisfied and reduced calorie intake throughout the day. Switch to a higher protein breakfast by incorporating eggs, beans and smoothies, add chicken or beans to your salad at lunch, and replace drinks like juice and soda with higher protein cow or nut milk.