While not necessarily easy, intentionally forming healthy habits—and having your family get onboard with you—is possible!
You just need to be armed with the following strategies:
1.) Create a plan. Focus on one area at a time. If you get too ambitious, you run the real risk of overwhelming your clan! Maybe you want to get active, eat more healthy food, and simplify your life, but you’ll need to pick only one and hone in on that to start. For example, begin by upping your activity level and scheduling regular family bike rides, hikes, joining the local Y, etc- three days a week.
- Action: get one new habit on the calendar NOW. I mean literally. Walk away from this article, grab your calendar and write something on it! Oh, and make sure to come back to read the rest.
2.) Within your plan, think baby steps. Instead of “I want us to eat better,” try thinking about one thing that you can improve and implement today. Maybe it’s cutting out soda from your diet and replacing it with water flavored with fresh berries or lemon. Once you succeed in making that change you can add another healthy habit to the mix.
- Action: make a list of 5 habits you want to change today and put it on the fridge for the whole family to see. Sometimes preparation (and time) is the best medicine.
3.) Be prepared for obstacles. There will be setbacks along the way, and that’s OK. There’s no room for perfection when it comes to making the change to a healthy lifestyle! Encourage your family to put past choices behind them and look at each new moment as an opportunity to make a better choice.
- Action: check in and honor each other’s setbacks. Support one another. Hugs come in great here!
4.) Make it fun! Be creative as you introduce these ideas to your family. Incorporate games or adventurous outings into your bag of tricks to create a positive correlation with their newfound habits. After all, it’s healthy to laugh!
- Action: plan a family outing that everyone is jazzed about. A movie, a hike, a drive into the city, ice skating, shopping, etc. Pack a healthy lunch and have a picnic or find a new restaurant where the food is local and the waitstaff friendly.
5.) Be realistic. Say you want to “unplug.” But the TV’s on, the laptops are open, and smartphones are buzzing seemingly 24/7. Putting a total moratorium on electronics usage is not only impractical; it’s unlikely to get you anywhere. Get the family together: there are two benefits to this approach—by taking realistic steps to fix the problem, you are more likely to end up with a sustainable solution. By getting family buy-in via a collective agreement, you are more likely see your loved ones comply.
- Action: hold a family meeting and get everyone’s input on how to incorporate more face time and less screen time in your home.
Where to start:
Eat dinner together as a family. Research has shown that just eating together as a family can improve children’s nutritional health. Eat without the TV on and shoot for sitting down together at least five days a week.
Last, but not least, set a good example. By being the shining example of health and balance, your family members can model what they see you doing. You play an important role as guide and coach for your children as they make choices about eating.
- Action: honor yourself for improving the health of your family (I am sending you hugs from afar).
Studies show that it takes a median time of 66 days to form a new habit. I like the more familiarly known 21 days. Three weeks, that is it! If you can do just 1 small thing for your family in three weeks, chances are some of that habit will stick around. In the end, you’ll see that adopting healthy habits is more akin to running a marathon, not a sprint, and motivation is key.
Getting your family on the healthy track and helping reduce their risk of a myriad of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and so much more, is worth every effort today! From my family to yours- here is to a health filled life.