Ah, summer. These long, hot days are the perfect time to relax and be a little bit lazier than we are the rest of the year. However, a slower pace of life can easily lead to unhealthy habits if you’re not mindful. Reboot your commitment to healthy living this fall with the following ten steps. These changes can help anyone achieve better health, whatever your individual goals may be.
To regain your focus for a healthier fall, stop doing the following ten things:
1. Setting Generic Goals
What does being healthier mean to you? For some, it could mean weight loss. For others, it could be giving up diet soda and drinking more water. Whatever you aspire to, break it down into specific goals and small steps.
We’ve all made that sweeping pronouncement—“I’m going to be healthy” or “This is the new year I’m finally going to get organized”—only to give up because we had no idea how to get from our present selves to the future improvements we imagined. The key is to be realistic and specific.
Instead of trying to lose ten pounds, set a goal of losing one pound a month. If you lose more, you’ll feel that much better. But starting with an easy target will make you feel encouraged and successful, giving you the momentum to continue. Next, commit to the specific steps you’ll take to reach your goal. Again, be realistic. If you haven’t exercised since high school gym class, you’ll have more success trying to walk every day during your lunch hour than signing up for a strenuous fitness class.
2. Making Unrealistic Time Commitments
This is part of taking small steps. If you’re trying to improve your health, you probably want to add more exercise and healthy eating to your routine. This means you’re going to have to make time to go to the gym or yoga class and to cook for yourself at home. If you’re unrealistic about what you can do, you set yourself up to feel discouraged and ultimately quit.
Plan your week in advance—when will you cook, how will you fit in exercise? You may have to say no to a few enticing social invitations, but in the end you’ll be glad you did.
3. Engaging in Destructive Relationships
It’s no secret your brain and body have a close relationship. Mental and emotional stress manifests as physical ailments, and vice versa. Practicing positive thinking will help you in your quest for better health, so you should surround yourself with other positive people. If there are any negative people dragging you down, whether a loved one or friend, think about cutting them loose. You can’t help anyone else until you take care of yourself first.
4. Eating Junk Food
This is an easy step everyone can take, whether or not you’re trying to lose weight. Your body needs
5. Skipping Workouts
You’re tired. You have to work late. A friend just invited you to a rock show. There will always be plenty of reasons to skip a workout, and they all sound perfectly reasonable in your mind. But don’t let your brain talk you out of exercising. There’s always time to at least do something, even if it’s an abbreviated version of your regular workout.
6. Thinking Weights Are Just for Bodybuilders
Many people find weight training intimidating. How to start? How many repetitions? And will you end up looking bulkier than you want to? Luckily, you don’t have to head for the weight rack at the gym to get toned.
The weight machines may be easier to use, and many exercises such as yoga incorporate muscle toning into their regimens. Find an approach to weight training that works for you because the benefits are numerous, from heart health to increased fat-burning.
7. Skimping on Sleep
Regular sleep schedules are linked to lower body fat, according to a recent study. So don’t sacrifice important rest to fit in one more activity, even if it’s exercise. Beyond weight loss, your body needs sleep to repair and recover from the day, and your mind won’t function well in a sleep-deprived state.
8. Telling Yourself You Need a Drink to Have a Good Time
Do you drink alcohol every time you hang out with your friends? Drinking is inseparable from socializing for many people, but all those drinks can add up to unhealthy effects on your body. In addition to the liquid calories you’re consuming, having more than five drinks in a two-hour period is considered binge drinking.
So the next time a friend invites you out for happy hour, consider ordering something nonalcoholic. Many bars and restaurants now offer homemade iced teas, sodas, and other delicious drinks. You won’t feel like you’re missing out, and your body will thank you.
Related: 4 Alcohol Myths Busted
9. Beating Yourself Up When You Fail
In addition to practicing positive thinking, practice self-compassion. Temporary set-backs don’t have to mean the end of your efforts. Think about how you’d talk to a friend who was struggling with a goal, and talk to yourself in the same loving, compassionate manner. Beating yourself up will only make you feel worse and more likely to quit.
10. Believing Healthy Living Can’t be Fun
Are you someone who thinks maintaining health is about abstaining from all of life’s pleasures? Think again. Living a healthy lifestyle can be fun—it’s all about discovering what you enjoy. If you hate the gym, find a more pleasurable way to be active. If you love dessert, substitute fresh fruit for chocolate. Don’t think in terms of deprivation. Instead, look for equally enjoyable, healthier substitutes for habits you’re trying to change.
How will you make your fall healthier than the summer?