The sooner you adopt healthier habits, the sooner you can get on track to a healthier life. Healthy habits, like eating well and exercising, drastically reduce your chances of developing diabetes and other serious health problems. Additionally, a healthier lifestyle can leave you feeling more energetic and better about yourself.
There are four steps to actualizing a healthy lifestyle, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
This is where you begin thinking about a lifestyle change and become motivated to start. You can enter this stage simply through your desire to change. Think about the lifestyle choices you currently make and what you wish you did differently. If applicable, also think about family members suffering from chronic conditions like—Type 2 diabetes—and know that you can reduce your risk by adopting healthy practices now. Use that as motivation to move onto the next step.
This step is a little more involved and requires you to think more about how you want to accomplish your newly contemplated health goals. This is when you start preparing for action and set specific, achievable goals. Consider potential hurdles, such as the cost of healthy foods, and how you can overcome them.
In this step, you are actualizing your health goals and making good on your promise to yourself. If one of your goals is eating healthy, you are in the Action step once you begin doing that. There is an adjustment period between starting a healthy practice and ending an unhealthy one, so do not feel discouraged by occasional relapses. This step is where you learn how to overcome the hurdles to your healthier lifestyle and persevere despite them.
This fourth and final step is continuous and is the most important of all. This is when you begin forming a healthy habit, which can only be done by repeatedly doing something. It’s easy to start a healthy practice—millions of people do it each year in January. It’s much more difficult to maintain the healthy practices and turn them into habits. Don’t tell yourself, “This is the first month of being healthy,” instead, think, “This is the last month I will be unhealthy.”