Have you ever wondered what healthy habits to start if you want to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle? Does it have anything to do with having great genes? Or is it a matter of being consistent and disciplined?
For weight loss success, healthy habits must be realistic and fit easily into your daily routine. Making a habit of working out first thing in the morning, preparing meals ahead of time, and drinking more water are some of the healthy habits to start.
For a healthy lifestyle, tracking your meals, no matter how small, eating six small meals a day or simply getting a good night’s sleep goes a long way in helping you shed pounds.
Let’s go over what it takes to lose weight and some of the healthy lifestyle habits that can change your life forever.
Healthy Habits to Follow Everyday
What are healthy habits
Healthy habits are those simple yet effective good things that you do repeatedly to improve your life or well-being. It takes 21 days to develop a habit.
A handy tip to nailing healthy habits to follow every day is that you must not do everything at once because you might end up feeling overwhelmed and give up eventually. When you feel like giving up, remember what you want to accomplish, be consistent and build on the small things. As Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
9 Healthy Habits to Start Today for Weight Loss
1. Set yourself up for success with goals
Before you do anything else on your road to a healthy lifestyle or weight loss, set weight loss goals. Your weight loss goals should be realistic and for the long haul.
If your reason for wanting to lose weight is because you have just booked a vacation to the Maldives, and want to look stunning in a bikini, or that your high school reunion is coming up, and you want to ‘show them’, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
You have to ask yourself this: what will happen to your slim figure after that vacation or high school reunion? Will you still be motivated enough to want to keep the weight off after the wedding?
If the answer is no, then you should be into these healthy habits to start for the long haul and for the right reasons, not to impress others. Your ultimate goal should be that you want to look good and feel great all the time. Not just for a special occasion.
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You should lay out both short and long-term goals. You should not be chasing a 7-day diet plan for weight loss that promises that you will lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks. While you may lose weight that fast, you are bound to pick it all up because such weight loss goals are not sustainable and realistic.
The best way to create short and long-term goals is to set measurable goals that you can break into small steps. Say you want to lose 60 pounds- this is the big picture and long-term goal.
The short-term goal will be breaking down the 60-pound goal into smaller, realistic, measurable, and achievable milestones. Realistically, weight loss expectations should be around 1-2 pounds a week, which amounts to 4-8 pounds a month.
Your aim should be to hit these small milestones (1-2 pounds a week) one small change at a time. If you consistently do this, you will in no time reach your weight loss goal.
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2. Make it a habit to eat real food to lose weight
One of the basics of weight loss is that you will see change when you nail 80% of what you eat and 20% of exercise. This simply means that a healthy diet is a huge part of any weight loss journey. You are what you consistently eat. And this is why eating real food is encouraged as part of healthy habits to do everyday. But what is real food?
Real food doesn’t mean that you eat a plant-based diet or organic food. Real food consists of foods that are free of artificial additives and are not highly refined or processed. Your daily diet should be more whole foods, and less of foods that look like food.
If you are ever in doubt about what you are eating, here is a non-real food list to help you stay on track:
Healthy habits to start- what NOT to eat
- Frozen meals
- Most breakfast cereals
- Artificial sweeteners
- Microwave popcorn
- Canned soups
- Fried desserts (fried ice cream, doughnuts)
- Pork rinds
- Fruit juices
- Energy drinks
3. Prepare meals ahead of time
One thing experts recommend about all the healthy habits to start to lose weight is planning your meals for the week ahead.
Most of us usually fall off the bandwagon because we don’t plan what we are to eat for the day or week. Being consistent with clean eating and exercising means that you just don’t wake up and decide to eat a healthy salad or go to the gym that week because you are in the mood.
A once-off healthy meal will not result in weight loss, just as a once-off indulgent meal won’t lead to weight gain.
The best way to go about meal planning is to first make a menu for each day, and this should also include snacks.
Next, write down a shopping list based on what’s on the menu for breakfast, mid-morning snacks, lunch, mid-afternoon snacks, and dinner. If from time to time you enjoy healthy late-night snacks, write that down too.
After you have done all that, do grocery shopping and set aside time to cook the meals for the week.
A printable meal planner is a great tool that you can use to get started and make meal planning one of the healthy habits to do everyday.
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4. Know the importance of rest and sleep your way to weight loss
Giving your body the recommended 8 hours of sleep is so important for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Scientific research shows that lack of sufficient sleep may lead to weight gain and obesity.
Poor sleeping habits may reduce metabolism, increase appetite and negatively affect the body’s ability to burn fat.
Getting a good night’s sleep will boost your energy levels and help you stay focused during the day.
Having days off from exercising is also key for successful weight loss and is one of the healthiest daily habits. You need to have one or two rest days per week because tissue repair and muscle growth happen during those precious hours of complete rest.
5. Don’t skip meals, eat small meals throughout the day
The secret to portion control and curbing cravings and hunger is eating six small meals a day, and not 3 big ones. Why not just eat 3 big meals a day and get it over and done with for the day, you ask?
Well, a steady flow of small meals boosts metabolism, keeps hunger at bay, and limits insulin spikes.
Most people incorrectly believe that skipping meals, especially breakfast or dinner, leads to faster weight loss. The body however disagrees.
Skipping meals (not to be confused with intermittent fasting) is dangerous not only to your weight loss efforts but also to your overall health.
When you skip meals, your energy becomes low, and you will be cranky most of the time. Also, the chances of overeating at your next meal become higher.
The most effective way to eat small meals is to calculate how many calories you need to eat daily to lose weight. If your daily caloric intake is 1200, spread 200 calories around the six meals.
6. Workout first thing in the morning
Life has a habit of creeping up on us and messing with our plans for the day. The best way to get around this is to workout first thing in the morning before things that will keep you from exercising start happening.
In the evenings, energy fizzles quite fast. You will most likely be drained by all the activities such that the last thing you will want to do is lift weights, run, or do any kind of exercise that requires 100% effort.
There are so many benefits of getting your workout in before your day starts. If you are a runner, go and run in the morning. The tranquillity that you will experience on your morning runs will be second to none.
For gym lovers, imagine starting your day from a place of serenity. An almost empty gym is really a thing of beauty. You get the freedom of picking whichever machine you want because the gym is not as crazy-packed as it would be at the end of the day.
Making a habit of exercising before your day starts is such a winner. You will probably count with one hand the number of times that you will have to skip a workout because of other things coming up. The excuse that you have to have drinks with the girls after work, work late, or even attend a soccer match for your kid will no longer be the reason you didn’t workout.
The number one reason you probably need to kick-start your day with a workout is that energy levels are at their peak just when you wake up. You take that high energy with you throughout the day.
7. Do not obsess with the numbers on the scale
Developing this healthy habit for adults will be great for weight loss and also for your mental health. You should never obsess over the scale, whether it moved up, down, or didn’t move at all. In fact, throw it out the window for peace of mind!
Your weight fluctuates throughout the day, and this is normal. Don’t weigh yourself daily. If you want accurate results on your weight loss progress, take photos of day one, and do a follow-up comparison photo after 2-4 weeks.
You will see even the smallest improvements that your scale won’t show you. Another way to track progress is by getting your body measurements using a body tape measure.
Measure your bust, waist, hips, arms, thighs, and legs on day 1, and track your progress every four weeks. As long as you are eating right, you will be amazed at how much difference an inch makes- again the scale won’t show you this transformation.
To sum it up, the scale does not matter, it should be last on your list of healthy habits to do everyday. Ignore your bathroom scale for a few weeks and see how less stressed you will become.
8. Keep track of what you eat
One of the easiest healthy habits to start is to keep track of what you eat. These days it’s so much easier to keep track of how much or little you eat. Making lifestyle changes such as eating healthy and controlling portions requires some form of guidance.
If you are confused about portion sizes or how many calories are in your meal, best to make use of meal tracking apps like MyFitnessPal
If you prefer pen and paper, there are plenty of fitness journal options out there, or you can simply stick to a plain notebook. Either way, you will still be keeping tabs on what is passing your lips and not work on assumption.
Final thoughts on healthy habits to start today!
9. Stay disciplined and consistent with your goals
Life is busy, we all know this. And sometimes we go through situations that make it hard to stick to our fitness goals.
However, this shouldn’t be a free ticket to making up excuses whenever it gets hard to eat healthily or exercise for 20-30 minutes a day.
If you are having a bad day and feel like pizza or chocolate will make up for the hurt or pain, take a second to breathe in deeply and think about why you started. You have to understand WHY you are here and focus on the bigger picture during stressful situations.
You see, you can plan all your workouts and prepare your meals in advance all you want but, if you are not consistent or disciplined enough to make healthy changes, it all means nothing.
Do not ever just go with the flow, you owe it to yourself to look good and feel amazing about your health, no matter what is sitting in front of you.
Chaput, J. P., & Tremblay, A. (2012). Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 184(18), 1975–1976. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.120876