January 4, 2023
A new year is a great time to set your intention for wellness, and to increase your chances that those intentions become lifelong habits. YMCA of Metro Denver Nutritionist Liz Bravman recommends following the 3 S’s:
1. Start SMALL.
It’s tempting to want to make lots of changes all at once, however research shows that focusing on one or two small behavior changes will increase the likelihood that those actions become habits.
Once the habit feels consistently integrated into your daily or weekly routine, it’s time to move on to a new behavior. For example, instead of trying to change your workout routine, eating patterns, water intake and sleep schedule all at once – pick just one. A Habit Tracker (found online or in your Google Play or Apple Store) can help you mark your progress visually and help identify any challenging patterns or nudge you when it might be time to move on to your next behavior to turn into a habit.
At the start of the new year, our motivation tends to be quite high, however, motivation is a feeling and feelings come and go. To avoid becoming inconsistent with your behaviors when your motivation is low, create systems that will help you succeed.
Decide up front the “when, where and how” you will execute your behaviors. For example, if your goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables, you can create a plan to have one more vegetable at dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays and fruit for dessert on Mondays and Wednesdays. Many people find that writing it down in a planner, calendar, note on a phone or a sticky note in the kitchen can help.
The other part of your system is to make your behavior visible and easy. For the above example, update your grocery list to include more fruits and vegetables, have fruits washed and ready to eat on your counter and have the veggies cut up and stored at the front of the fridge.
Create a system that works for YOU.
Research finds that enlisting an accountability buddy, friend, family member or hiring a professional can help you turn your New Year’s intentions into lifelong habits!
The Y has an entire nutrition team that would love to support you in your wellness journey. Every month, our nutritionists have dedicated lobbying hours where you can meet our team. Come talk to the team and/or schedule your 30- or 60-minute session with one of our team members. Learn about our Nutrition Program at the Y. We are here to help you!