Adopting and Keeping Healthy Habits
Learn how small steps toward larger health goals can form habits that stick.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
Change is good, and change is possible. The trick is not to focus on the end goal, which can be overwhelming, but to work toward big change by taking small steps. And of course, celebrating each success along the way.
Depending on your end goal, be it weight loss, a vegetarian diet, or clean living, small, positive habits not only add to success, they give your body a needed boost in a positive direction. Our daily habits and routines contribute to loftier personal goals and aspirations; they take us closer to our pursuit of purpose and meaning in life,” says Kate Judd, MRC, LAADC, Program Director at Shoreline Recovery Center.
Here’s how to incorporate small habits that will help move you closer to larger goals:
Stop and reflect on each habit. Focus on how you benefit from each small change you adopt along the way. If you started walking for 30 minutes to lose 10 pounds for an upcoming wedding, instead of focusing on how great you’ll look in your dress, think, “When I walk, I have more energy. I’m going to energize myself by walking a little more this week.” Or, remind yourself of all the health benefits of walking, separate from weight loss. Walking improves cardiovascular health and fitness, reduces stress, helps you relax, and sets the stage for adding other healthful habits into your routine.
Do what you love. It sounds so simple, but many of us fail to do it. When we spend time on habits we don’t enjoy, we create negative self-feedback. Think of running on a treadmill. If you hate it, you’ll dread doing it, time will slow down! Try a run or walk in the park with a good friend. You’ll immerse yourself in natural surroundings and good conversation, and the next thing you know, you’ll be done.
Get rid of the martyr mindset. We tend to resist doing things we feel coerced to do. Instead of telling yourself you have to adopt a new healthy habit, like eating at least five fruits and vegetables per day, tell yourself you want to do it. Remind yourself of all the benefits you’ll gain from upping your produce intake. A diet high in fruits in vegetables will help you lose weight, lower blood pressure, and prevent some diseases, including digestive problems and certain cancer types.
Be patient as you adopt small habits on the way to larger health goals. Turning lifestyle changes into real habits that stick takes diligence and time. Also be nice to yourself. Self-compassion will help you overcome failure and get up, dust yourself off, and try again as you incorporate new habits into your life. Keep in mind, it takes an average of 66 days (a little over two months) for a habit to become automatic and a regular part of your day.
There are many great recipes to make incredible paninis that will blow everybody’s minds. This recipe is not any different! Chopped Chicken Raspberry Panini takes the idea of a fruit and meat combo to the next level. Chicken is combined with apples—a pretty classic pairing when it comes to chicken salad—but the pro move is the addition of raspberry jam. Yes, two fruits, chicken, and cheese, and the results couldn’t be more delicious.
Chopped Chicken Raspberry Panini
- 6 ounces chopped chicken (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 Granny smith apple, sliced thin
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese or Mozzerella cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
- Raspberry jam
- Sourdough bread
- Unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a panini press, preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven as well.
- Roughly chop chicken. Grate cheese, slice the apple thin and squeeze lemon juice over the apples.
- Take four large slices of thick sourdough bread and lightly butter one side of each piece. Divide the chicken and cheese between two pieces of bread with buttered side down.
- Top cheese with apple slices and slather the extra pieces of bread with raspberry jam on the non-buttered side. Top the sandwiches so the jam and apples are together.
- Place sandwiches in panini press or place them on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Place the hot cast iron skillet on top of the foil and place back in the oven.
- If you’re using the panini press, cook sandwich according to press instructions. If you’re pressing in the oven using my crazy cast iron skillet method, you’ll need to cook them for about 15 minutes.
- Remove sandwiches and slice each sandwich into three even sections. Serve immediately!
*This salad keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for about 4 days. If you don’t want your chopped peanuts to get soggy, store them separately from the rest and garnish just before serving.
Keep the Lap-Band Guidelines front of mind!
- Meals should last 20 minutes– no more, no less
- Take small bites
- Chew each bite 15-20 times