There are certain behaviors that we do day-in and day-out without a second thought throughout our entire lives. Call them habits, routines or whatever you like. Take teeth brushing, for example. Most of us (beyond age 12, or so) will brush each morning upon waking and at night before going to bed. There may be days we don’t feel like it, or don’t feel like we have the time, but we’ll do it anyway, if not an abridged version, because it’s a habit. It would feel downright weird if we didn’t.
That is the feeling we must achieve with our day-to-day habits for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If a day passes where we don’t get any exercise, it feels weird. We forget to bring a healthy lunch to work one day – weird! Our dinner is devoid of green vegetables – weird!
Quintessential to achieving this holy grail of behavior change is consistency. That goes without saying. But what’s crucial to consistency, which most of us fail to concede, is that not every performance of the action needs to meet the highest standard. It’s okay if you can’t do your full 60-minute workout one day. Rather than forego exercise all together, shorten it to 30 minutes or squeeze in just 5 minutes of calisthenics before getting dressed for work. No time to make lunch for tomorrow? At least take 2 minutes to make yourself a small healthy snack. Portion out some mixed nuts or throw a piece of fruit into your bag.
Life will always get in the way of our attempts at behavior change. It takes a strong foundation of routine to stand up to the pressures of work, family and time. Maintaining the behavior on a daily basis, even at the lowest measure imaginable, goes a long way in developing that routine. And that routine will go a long way toward keeping you well.