|Changing any habit is hard. Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand you usually use (extra credit: stand on one leg while you do it!). Changing ingrained lifestyle habits, whether a penchant for French fries or a preference for the couch over the gym, can be especially hard. A recent study offers a strategy for success when you’re trying to make multiple changes at once. Say, for example, that you’d like to start eating more vegetables, cut out soda, exercise more, and cut down on alcohol. According to the study, you may have better success in making changes if you focus on either starting habits (like more exercise and veggies) or stopping habits (soda and alcohol), but not on starting and stopping habits at the same time. Give this strategy a try and see how it works. But don’t bite off more than you can chew (so to speak). Whether there’s one change you’d like to make or a whole slew of them, start small and don’t fall into the “all or nothing” trap. If you’ve been sedentary, for instance, don’t expect yourself to start walking for an hour a day, six days a week. And if you eat fast food and frozen meals a lot, don’t expect yourself to transform into Chef Healthy overnight! Schedule your new habits on your calendar, and keep track of your progress. Once you have that down, build on it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are healthy lifestyles. Patience, persistence, and a positive attitude go a long way.
Source: Action and Inaction in Multi-Behaviour Recommendations: A Meta-Analysis of Lifestyle Interventions