The Science of Building Healthy Habits
In a world of quick fixes and shortcuts, making choices that support our long-term health and well-being can be challenging. But fear not, because at BodySlims, we firmly believe that understanding the science behind building healthy habits can empower us to create lasting positive change and wholly embrace a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know, from what healthy habits are and why they matter, to how to develop them and their various types. So, let’s dive in.
What exactly are Healthy Habits?
They’re regularly occurring behaviours that contribute to our physical and mental well-being, benefiting our overall health. Unlike regular habits - such as procrastination, disorganisation or speeding - that span various aspects of life, healthy habits zero in on areas crucial to improving our well-being, like nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and more.
How Long Does It Take to Build a Healthy Habit?
Now you might be wondering, “does it take long to build a healthy habit?” Well, it's not an overnight process; the time frame varies for each person and also depends on the specific habit you are trying to adopt.
In general, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a habit to become fully formed, with the average sitting at around 66 days. Complexity, individual differences, and level of commitment all play a part. While simple habits like drinking water with breakfast might form quickly, more complex ones like exercise or diet may take longer to become second nature.
But, Why Do Healthy Habits Matter, and What’s in it For Us?
Healthy habits extend beyond just well-being - they can impact all aspects of our lives. From physical health to mental well-being, financial stability to longevity, and even the environment, they leave a lasting footprint.
For your physical health, embracing healthy habits like maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting quality sleep can reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. And if that’s not enough, you’ll also experience boosted energy levels, a strengthened immune system, and better management of existing health conditions.
Mental health is vital to enjoying a balanced lifestyle. Positive mental habits like practising gratitude, finding humour in challenging situations, and positive self-talk improve our emotional well-being, reduce anxiety and depression, and enhance our mindset and resilience.
We might not realise it, but prioritising healthy habits can save you money. By reducing the risk of developing health conditions that demand frequent medical visits and treatments, you can lower healthcare costs, reduce insurance premiums, and potentially cut back on regular prescriptions.
Who doesn’t want to enjoy a long and full life? Well, it’s a well-known fact that people who follow a combination of healthy habits, such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, eating well, and practising moderate alcohol consumption, often live significantly longer lives.
And to top it all off, healthy habits positively affect the environment. Choices like consuming whole, unprocessed foods and reducing food waste while opting for plant-based food alternatives contribute greatly to environmental sustainability and conservation.
How to Develop Healthy Habits for Life
Now, let’s get into the ins and outs of actually creating a healthy habit. It’s a process that requires intention, persistence, and understanding of habit formation techniques. Here’s 8 simple steps to get you started:
1. Set Clear, Realistic Goals
Know that it will take time and effort. Patience, self-discipline, and commitment are key, so it is best to start off by setting clear intentions and realistic goals for yourself.
2. Start Small
It’s all about baby steps. No one enjoys change, that’s why we found it’s easier to stay motivated and consistent when first steps aren't overwhelming. Start small, gradually increase the difficulty over time.
3. Establish Routine
Routine is the backbone of habit development. Build a consistent routine around your desired behaviour and consciously practise it until it eventually becomes second nature.
4. Tie Habits to Existing Routines
Merge your new healthy habit with an existing one. Basically, an association is created in your mind which helps ‘trigger’ a new behaviour, causing it to naturally integrate into your routine. Practising mindfulness while having your morning coffee or doing a short workout after brushing your teeth are some examples of stacked habits you can take up easily.
5. Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice
Set yourself up for success. Create an environment that supports your desired habits by reducing obstacles and modifying your surroundings to make the healthy choice, the easy choice. Good examples are, preparing in advance by having healthy snacks readily available or setting daily reminders on your phone.
6. Track Your Progress
Monitoring your behaviour and progress is a powerful tool. Keep a record of your actions, thoughts, and emotions related to the healthy habit you are trying to develop. This self-awareness helps identify patterns, track your consistency, and allows you to make adjustments as needed. And keeping track doesn’t need to be complicated - that’s what technology is for!
7. Stay Committed and Resilient
Building healthy habits is a marathon not a sprint. There may be setbacks along the way, but it's important to maintain a positive mindset, learn from failures, and continue to practise self-discipline. Stay focused on the long-term benefits and always remember that change takes time.
8. Don’t Go it Alone
Being part of a supportive community, such as a weight loss group or fitness community makes developing a healthy habit easier. Groups with similar health goals provide encouragement, accountability, positive behaviours are reinforced, and there’s increased likelihood of staying on track. So don’t go it alone, take the journey together!
Different Types of Healthy Habits
Healthy nutritional habits involve mindful eating and making nutritious food choices. Consuming a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats will help support optimal health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Healthy physical habits involve engaging in exercises or activities that raise your heart rate and strengthen your muscles to help improve cardiovascular fitness, maintain a healthy weight, enhance your mood, and boost your overall energy levels.
Establishing healthy sleep habits is essential for good health. Consistent sleep schedules and relaxing bedtime routines ensures proper rest and rejuvenation. Even more, quality sleep will aid in your weight loss journey, improve cognitive function, regulate mood, and enhance overall well-being.
Healthy habits for stress management is essential for mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or pursuing hobbies eases stress and promotes a calmer mind. Or, if you’re on a weight loss journey, stress management is known to help.
Healthy social habits encompasses practices such as maintaining social connections, practising mindfulness, managing time effectively, and adopting a positive mindset, which all contribute to a holistic and balanced lifestyle.
Ready to kickstart your journey? Here’s 3 Simple Healthy Habits for an Improved Lifestyle
Fuel Your Body for Success
First and foremost, adopt a nutritious and balanced diet by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Charging your body daily will support your physical and mental well-being, allow for healthy weight maintenance, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
The Power of Daily Routines
Incorporate essential activities, like exercise, reading, or mindfulness, into your daily routine. Not only can you then prioritise self-care, personal growth, and overall well-being, routines also reduce decision fatigue and provide a sense of control and accomplishment.
Transform Your Morning
Begin your day with at least one healthy habit, be it meditation, exercise, journaling, or simply planning ahead. These practices set a positive tone for your day, increase your productivity, and boost your overall well-being.
How BodySlims Can Help You Build a Healthy Habit
All the tips and suggestions we’ve shared are just the beginning for building your healthier lifestyle. As mentioned, building healthy habits is a journey that requires long term dedication, persistence, and commitment to achieve positive change. But remember - it’s easier not to go it alone, take a look at some of our success stories that show how the BodySlims community helps you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.
By joining the BodySlims program, not only will you find the tools to create a healthy habit, but you will have a supportive community which will empower you to make positive changes in your life. The programme will not only help you on the road to developing consistent, healthy physical and mental routines, BodySlims equip you to take on any challenge, and turn any bad habit into a good one.
BodySlims’ ten-week weight loss programme can be done anywhere in the world but you won’t feel that distance because of how the programme is structured: it offers seminars, a calorie-controlled personalised diet plan, weekly support comms, exclusive video content, and so much more!
Sign up for the next intake to start your journey towards a healthier lifestyle!