This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.

healthy habits stick

I’m going to reveal to you my psychic abilities… I am willing to guess you know exactly which health behaviors you should be doing. You know what you need to do to achieve optimal health well into your later years. The trick is actually taking that first step and performing those healthy behaviors and making them a habit.

That’s the problem. I have found that most people don’t need to be told that they should exercise regularly and eat more fruits and vegetables. They don’t need to be told to manage their stress better or to get more sleep. To borrow from the Nike slogan: they need to just do it.

Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 410 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

I was at a conference in San Diego this past fall, and I am going to quote one of the speakers here, Dr. David Sabgir:

We don't need health information. We need health inspiration. Click To Tweet

To me, that says it all. So, my question to you is this: “what inspires you?”

But sometimes your inspiration can seem so far away that it leads to inaction. You might end up saying, “Ah… that’s so far into the future, I’ll get around to it.”

To prevent this from happening, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Think about the habits that you need to adopt to help you feel your best when your reach those later stages of life. Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your body feeling younger. So let’s use that as an example. If you want to exercise at least 3 times a week well into your 60s and 70s, and if you’re not following a structured exercise program now, this means the first step is to begin exercising. But here’s the good news: you do not need to exercise 3 times a week starting this very minute. We can work up to that. Where should you start?
  2. Think about your daily routine. I promise there’s a method to my madness. Follow me here… let’s say your morning routine looks like this: your alarm clock goes off abruptly at 6 am every weekday. When the alarm sounds, you shut it off, get out of bed, and immediately head to your bathroom sink to wash your face and brush your teeth. This is your morning routine. You with me so far? So here’s what you do…
  3. Add the behavior. Starting on Monday, try this: When the alarm sounds, shut it off like you normally would, get out of bed, and instead of walking towards your bathroom sink like you usually do, you stop and do 5 push-ups, or 2 sit-ups, or 7 standing squats. Then finish your morning routine by walking over to the sink to wash your face and brush your teeth. Did you catch what just happened there? In a not-so-sneaky way, we added a new behavior to your routine (getting up after your alarm clock wakes you, walking to the sink, etc.). Not only that, but we added a behavior that’s quick and relatively easy to do: 5 push-ups, or 2 sit-ups, or 7 standing squats. Note: you do not have to do all of these! You could do just 1 push-up or 1 standing squat if you wanted! Just so long as you do it.

You may be thinking, “How is this possibly going to get me to ultimate goal of being fit years from now?” Here’s the genius behind this approach: again, I’m going to use my psychic abilities here. When you perform those 1 or 2 or 5 push-ups, sit-ups or squats or whatever, you will probably say, “Well, this doesn’t feel so bad… why don’t I just keep going?” You may find yourself doing 10 push-ups, or maybe 20 or more!

And, the other really cool thing about this method is that it doesn’t require extra planning or preparation. You already have your morning habits–just add one small extra behavior in between. That’s it! You’ve just created a new habit!

Ok… so this is all well and good for an unstructured exercise routine. But what if the goal is to be able to run 3 miles or more at a time and have some bulging biceps as you get older?

You can apply these very same steps! Start by taking a look at your usual routine. If you want take up running, you need to know when the best time to do this will be. Knowing your normal patterns will help you figure out when the best time will be. Let’s pretend that whenever you get home from work, you immediately go to the television and begin watching your favorite show. Instead of doing this, you can leave your running shoes right next to the television remote control the night before. Then when you get home from work the next day, instead of walking through the door and turning on the television, you put on your running shoes and go for a quick jog. It could be a 10-minute jog, a 15-minute jog, or even a 1-minute jog. It doesn’t matter! As long as you put on those running shoes, that counts!

Once putting on your running shoes has become a habit (and hopefully the jogging that follows), you can build on how long and/or how often you run! Then use these same steps to create other healthy and sustained habits!

Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 410 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

mm

Neal Malik

Dr. Neal Malik ("Dr. Neal") has a Doctorate in Public Health with emphases in disease prevention and nutrition. He is also a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Education Specialist. He is currently an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. Dr. Neal has published peer-reviewed scientific research and been featured as a nutrition and wellness expert in over 70 media outlets including Parade and The L.A. Times. Send in your health related question and Dr. Neal will answer it on the Optimal Health Daily show!
Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on minimalism tips for family members. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join my weekly newsletter for life tips, quotes, and free tools to optimize your life (and make my day)!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Enter your email to get our free Inspiration File on minimizing your wardrobe. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on decluttering sentimental items. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on getting started with minimalism. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter paper. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter books. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to help kids learn to declutter their toys. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on the bare minimum of items you need when moving. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on why financial literacy is important. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on overcoming money fears. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Enter your email to get our free PDF debt payoff tracker. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on maintaining your level of motivation. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on what to do after a deep tissue massage. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to counter sitting at a computer all day. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to stick to your budget. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on getting over a breakup. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Enter your email to get our free PDF with health and fitness quotes from Optimal Health Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Enter your email to get our free PDF with tips on how to spot -- and get out of -- a toxic relationship. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration, quotes, life tips, and more!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

OLD Podcast: Library

OLD Podcast: Library

Enter your email to get your password to access our handy library. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your personal finances. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Enter your email to get a sample of our journaling worksheet PDF with quotes and templates based on Optimal Living Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your health and fitness. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!