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Focus on building healthy lifestyle habits that last

From our experts: Jessi Holden is a registered dietitian/nutritionist at Mary Free Bed.

The new year is approaching, and we’re all feeling excitement for a fresh start. It’s understandable to reflect on how we spent our time this year. Many of us were at home due to unexpected circumstances, and guess what? Home is where we want to start building sustainable habits for a healthy lifestyle.

Here are my top five tips for building good habits that will last:

  1. Detox your home. This doesn’t mean starting a juice cleanse! Go through your home and get rid of things that spur any negative thoughts about yourself. If you’ve held onto a diet book or clothing that is bringing you down, get rid of it! While you’re at it, unfollow anyone on social media who makes you feel less than the amazing person you are.
  2. Focus on what you could add into your meal routines. Again, this goes against any sort of diet mentality that tends to focus on what you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” have. Change your focus to adding foods we know our bodies can benefit from, such as whole grains, vegetables and fruit.
  3. Break your goals into small steps. Now break them down into even smaller steps! We often write out our goals and forget to think about the daily and weekly effort it takes to get there. If your goal is to move more, start with a small step: dance for five minutes a day or take more walks. Build up to movement in a sustainable way through these small steps.
  4. Write down why you want to build sustainable habits. Look deep because having a why is a big component of successful goals. Make sure your “why” has a long-term piece to it. What do you want out of achieving that goal?
  5. Make an appointment for yourself in your calendar throughout every month of the new year. These appointments with yourself are an opportunity to reflect on the previous month, celebrate every single success/win and adjust your steps moving forward.

Lastly, every single step toward building sustainable habits requires compassion for yourself. Without compassion, we’re left dealing with our negative self-talk and attitudes and that brings us down. This year, be your own best friend and treat yourself with the utmost respect and loyalty. If you can approach yourself with that mindset, you’re much more likely to maintain and build upon habits that last.

Mary Free Bed offers outpatient Nutrition Services with registered dietitians available to help you build sustainable, doable and individualized goals. Contact us for one-on-one nutrition therapy or if you’re interested in our Weight Management Program. The next virtual Foundation class begins at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 19. For more information or to register, call 616.840.8908 or email mfbweightmanagement@maryfreebed.com.

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