Everyone has that friend. The one that gets up at first light, goes for a beach run, follows it up with a meditation and wheat-grass smoothie before getting to work early to get a head start on their day. All whilst the rest of us are wrapped up in our bedspread coccoons, hiding from the alarm and contemplating with some fear whether to start going to the gym again before summer gets here.
So what's their secret? Well, it tends to be a winning combination of routine and making it as easy as possible.
1. Don't go too hard too soon
Many people make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon and getting overwhelmed. So, whilst the notion of a tremendous overnight life overhaul may be tempting, it's far more effective to focus on a single small goal at a time. The benefit of working on single goals to change your behaviour is that these new behaviour can become what are known as 'keystone' habits, triggering a whole torrent of positive lifestyle changes.
For example, if you commit to becoming more active, you're more likely to drink more water and to make healthy food choices. Choosing just one thing to focus on at the beginning means you're more capable of sticking to it and reaping the associated rewards.
2. Get into a rhythm
The reality is, that we are creatures of habit and a significant portion of what we do during our days comes from habits. That is, you're not making a conscious decision to do those things, your brain is effectively running on autopilot - this may be your morning routine or post-work wind-down for example. The key to instilling new habits is to link them with your existing routine. Something as simple as putting your workout gear next to your bd the night before so you don't have to seek for it in the morning can jumpstart the automation of these new healthy habits.
3. Don't exhaust your willpower reserves
Willpower is a finite resource. Every day, you wake up with your 'tank' of willpower filled all the way. Throughout the day, as you make decisions, you use up this willpower until it's exhausted. Each time you resist a temptation, your burning that willpower. It's why it's so much easier to stick to a healthy diet if you remove all temptations from your home, because otherwise, they're laying there in wait for when your willpower is exhausted. Stocking your fridge with healthy snack options will ensure that when your 'snack habit' kicks in, you don't have to use that limited resource of willpower to make a healthy decision, it'll be made for you already.
The key to successfully developing a healthy lifestyle isn't relying completely on self-discipline, but simply by understanding and influencing behaviour that has become so automatic you don't even have to think about it. Start small, automate it and remove temptation to deviate and success will be yours.