Readers of my blog know that I am a college instructor when I’m not working on Dr. Becky Fitness.
My class just ended, and I received this note from a student:
“I just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed all your feedback you gave me. I was ready to give up because no one else really gave me much positive feedback or feedback at all. I just wanted to say thank you and it was you that will keep me trucking along with school.”
I was truly humbled by this note, and it got me thinking about how motivational positive feedback is, and how little of it we get.
So, I thought I’d write a list of healthy habits that you’re already doing right.
Not everything in the list below applies to you, but you’ll find many that do.
Pick out two things from the list to focus on today and a funny thing will happen; you’ll start to feel more confident, more capable, and you’ll want to keep trucking along with your fitness goal.
A List of Healthy Habits That You’ve Got Going For You:
1. You like fruit (visit a farmer’s market today)
2. You like to cook (make one of the recipes on my site today)
3. You like finding new recipes (Google a healthy one today)
4. You like to walk or ride a bike (grab a kid or friend or head out your door right now)
5. You like to swim (put on your goggles and go)
6. You have a loving family (take 30 minutes to do something nice for them today, and you’ll be repaid with a warm feeling inside)
7. You like salad and vegetables (follow my 4 daily habits today)
8. You sleep through the night (get eight hours tonight)
9. You often take the stairs (ditch the elevator today)
10. You drink a lot of water (have eight glasses today)
11. You drink green tea (use it as a stopper today)
12. You pray or meditate (give yourself ten uninterrupted minutes today)
13. You have long legs (Ok, I just put this one in because I’m jealous, and I wanted to see if you were reading along:-))
14. You like to read (Not to turn this into a commercial, but my book is inspirational)
15. You like overcoming obstacles (check out this cool video)
16. You love being outdoor (spend ten minutes in the sun today)
17. You have a hobby (dedicate 30 minutes to have fun today)
Hey, you’re doing pretty good!
Positives Create More Positives
Focusing on positive thoughts to make life better is not an original idea.
In the 2nd century A.D., Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor, and Philosopher said:
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
He had it right.
You might be telling yourself you want to lose weight or get in shape; yet, your focus is on all of the things that you’re doing wrong.
Thoughts are like magnets:
- Negative thoughts attract more negative thoughts
- Positive thoughts attract more positive thoughts
Anyone who has been frustrated knows this:
Seriously, is this line never going to move? This is going to make me late for my meeting. I’m going to be in so much hot water with my boss. What if I get fired? This is a horrible day.
As does anyone in love:
He/She is so great! And, just look at this beautiful day, it’s so great! Ahh, that puppy is so great!
When we lock our focus on the negatives, it’s all we see and vice versa.
Because you came to this article looking for a list of healthy habits, I can assume that you’re interested in reaching a health goal.
Reaching a health goal of any sort, whether it be losing weight, gaining fitness, or overcoming a condition, takes time.
So, you have to burn the positive thoughts into your brain to create positive habits and results.
Let me share a story…
In 2007, I set out to run a marathon. I was a so-so runner but had oodles of pride at stake, so once I committed to running the race, I had to cross the finish line.
So, I did something unusual, I told myself I could do it.
I repeatedly ran this phrase through my head:
“I’m absolutely certain in my ability to run the Flying Pig Marathon in 4:44.”
(If you want to understand what flying pigs and 4:44 how to do with my goal, then you’ll need to see my book, Lose Weight without Losing Your Love Affair with Food. I cover the full story in chapter four.)
I enthusiastically repeated that phrase to myself at least three times a day, and I pushed away any thoughts of doubt. Removing doubt was the hard part.
Doubt trickles into any long-term goal, so you have to be aware of it and push it out. If you don’t, it will attract more negative thoughts and cause your goal to crash.
Let me show you how this positive focus played out for me…
I injured my knee a few weeks before the race; but, despite the injury, I still believed I could complete the race. Why, because I had told myself I could do it so many times, I now believed it.
My knee was okay but was giving me a legitimate way out of the race. If I had allowed room in my head for doubt, I would have said, “Well, I gave it a good try, but it just didn’t work out.”
My mind, on the other hand, was saying, you will run the marathon. And, I did.
If you want to create healthy habits, so you can achieve the ultimate prize of good health, then you have to focus on the positive habits you are already doing right.
How to Bump Up Results on Your List of Healthy Habits
Ok, so it’s time to take your list of healthy habits to the next level by removing initiation barriers.
Initiation barriers are those silly little things that prevent us from taking action. Shawn Achor wrote a fabulous book on this topic called The Happiness Advantage. (He also has a hilariously awesome TED Talk.)
A classic example of how an initiation barrier can hold us back from carrying out a healthy habit is not having the right shoes on our feet.
Thought: “I should go for a walk.”
Initiation Barrier: “My sneakers are upstairs.”
Thought: “Oh well, maybe I’ll go later.”
If you want your healthy habits to stick, you need to remove any initial barrier that is preventing you from taking action.
Here’s how it works:
Thought 1: “I should go for a walk.“
Thought 2: “My sneakers are already on my feet.“
Thought 3: “Ok, I’m heading out the door.“
Here is the same list of healthy habits from above along with a practical way to remove initiation barriers from each.
List of Healthy Habits with Barriers Removed
1. You like fruit
Set a basket on your counter and fill it with apples, oranges, and bananas. You’ll grab fruit before a sugary snack.
2. You like to cook
Take one or two hours to organize your kitchen so you have easy access to important pots, pans, and spices.
3. You like finding new recipes
Find a healthy recipe app for your phone and search while you have downtime.
4. You like to walk or ride a bike
Keep your walking shoes near the door, and position your bike on the garage floor pointing outside.
5. You like to swim
Pack a bag with your suit and towel and leave it in the car.
6. You have a loving family
Make a list of seven things your family appreciates and do one each day. Post the list by your bed so you can plan the next day’s event. i.e. cook their favorite meal, clean the kid’s bathroom, take Fido to the lake (dogs are family members too)
7. You like salad and vegetables
Keep a large bagged salad in your frig so it’s ready to pour on your plate and eat. Keep packages of frozen vegetables in your freezer.
8. You sleep through the night.
Make falling asleep easy with dark blinds, a sound machine, and comfortable bedding.
9. You often take the stairs
Wear comfortable shoes for the office.
10. You drink a lot of water
Buy a 32-ounce water bottle and fill it first thing in the morning and after lunch.
11. You drink green tea
Buy a single-serve brewing system; they make hot tea as well as coffee
12. You pray or meditate (give yourself ten uninterrupted minutes today)
Create a comfortable space in your home and keep a Bible or headphones there.
13. You have long legs
Hmmm, I have no ideas for you here other than to talk to God about it (see above)
14. You like to read
Download two books to your Kindle today. Start with this one because it’s free: The Motivation Switch, and then download this one because it’s awesome: The Happiness Advantage.
15. You like overcoming obstacles
Here are 15 inspiring TED Talks to get you motivated.
16. You love being outdoor
Find a restaurant with an outdoor deck or put a comfortable chair on your patio
17. You have a hobby
Create a space in your home that includes a workspace and all your supplies
You’re already doing some great things. Focus on what is already working and you’ll naturally come up with healthy ideas that fuel that positive fire. Turn those healthy ideas into habits by removing the initiation barriers.
Now it’s your turn. Scroll down to the comments below and help me add to the list of healthy habits. What is a healthy habit that interests you? What can you do to remove any barriers to getting it done?
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.