Have you ever started a health kick and struggled to make it last longer than a week? If you are like the millions of people who have set out with the best intentions, full guns blazing, but lost your momentum – don’t worry. Here’s a guide to developing a new healthy habit without relying on self-motivation alone!

1. Plan ahead

Figure out your unhealthy patterns, set yourself realistic goals to change them and write these down. Doing this is the first and most important step towards achieving them! Plan easy steps to reach each goal you’ve written down and allow yourself the time to achieve them. These things can’t be rushed!

2. Change your surroundings

Find ways to make healthy choices the easy choices!

First, remove all temptations by clearing out your food cupboards. And don’t bin – donate! Then, find an area of your home you can make a relaxing area for yourself. This will be your new space for positive thoughts. Also, try to go on a walk or a run somewhere new once a week to change your surrounding area.

3. Ask for support

Find friends, family, colleagues, or even neighbours who might want to join in with you and make a healthier habit themselves! This means that you are accountable for everything you do and that you have someone to encourage you when you are struggling. Asking for support isn’t a failure, it’s an essential step. You never know, you might be doing them a favour as well!

4. Fill your time with healthy activities

Try a new exercise class, or give yourself a target to walk a certain distance every month. Don’t make exercise a chore, it can be fun! Get the family involved by getting the kids wellies and going on a walk through the woods. Otherwise, why not get the bikes out and see how far you can go in a certain time frame.

5. Track your progress

Start by writing a food diary and try sharing it with your support network. Use your fitness tracker to its maximum capabilities to track your exercise levels. In your spare time, keep track of how much you want to do versus how much you have done.

6. Imagine the future

Think about how each of your goals will impact your future. How much healthier are you going to feel? What difference is this going to make to your health in the long run? It might seem easier said than done, but looking ahead optimistically is healthy habit in itself which is worth cultivating.

7. Reward yourself

Once you achieve every goal you had initially written down, give yourself a healthy reward. Book yourself a massage for example, or even just some ‘me’ time! However, be careful not to overindulge. Keep the reward as feel-good as possible without reversing any of your hard work!

8. Be patient!

All of these improvements take time. Even if you don’t find the results glaringly obvious, the people around you will notice. It takes four weeks of commitment for someone else to notice a change, and eight weeks of solid commitment for you to start seeing a change in yourself.

It’s not just physical appearance that changes, healthier habits impact positively on your mood, your skin, and your hair! Focus on your progress, not on ‘perfection’.