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It can take several weeks or even several months to alter your eating habits or adjust to a new type of exercise until it becomes routine. It’s all about repetition, consistently practicing new behaviors like going to a gym or a Pilates studio on certain days at a specific time, or food shopping at a greenmarket instead of a supermarket. Here are some ideas to help you stick with it:

  • Wait until you’re sure you’re ready to make changes; in the meantime, research different types of exercises and start collecting healthy food ideas.
  • Create a plan. It can be flexible, but be sure to outline your goals for each day.
  • Do what you can. There will be days when you can’t eat perfectly at every meal or bring yourself to do any real exercise. Do the best you can, then call it a day.
  • Know your limits. If you push too hard, you’ll exhaust yourself and give up.
  • Work up to a maximum; start slow and make gradual changes. Unless you know that the best way for you to successfully accomplish anything is to throw yourself completely into it.
  • Don’t try to do anything you truly hate to do or you just won’t stick with it.
  • Keep up your motivation by reminding yourself where you want to be six months from now, a year, three years from now.
  • Instead of thinking about how difficult it is to prepare a healthy meal, eat less or put in an extra half hour of exercise, think about how good you’re going to feel once you’ve done it.
  • When you make a mistake, pick yourself up right away and start moving forward by doing something productive to counter the mistake.
  • Develop a long-term relationship with someone who can help keep you motivated—a workout buddy, a counselor, a nutritionist, someone with similar health goals—anyone you feel you can check in with from time to time and count on for support.   

Adapted from Breaking the Bonds of Food Addiction (Alpha) by Susan McQuillan.

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