We all have that vision in our head of who we’d love to be. Fit, active, free from pain and chronic health conditions, surrounded by supportive and loving people, and engaged in rewarding and purposeful work. But getting from here to there is tough, and you may feel like you’ve tried just about everything to get there with no results.

You’re not alone. Americans spend almost $10 billion per year on self-improvement books and products. But even with all the money we’re throwing down and the effort we’re spending, too many people don’t see much improvement in their health and wellbeing. Luckily, there is a way to cut through the noise and create a plan that works. Here are 7 strategies to develop those healthy habits.

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1. Know what you want


The first step to building healthy habits is figuring out what habits you actually want to keep. To do that, you need to define your goals. According to research published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, goal setting is a behavior change technique that serves as a fundamental component of successful interventions. Researchers agree that you must engage in goal setting to maximize behavioral changes.

2.Eating healthy food

Salad, Fruits, Berries, Healthy

Eating a sustainable diet is one of the most essential healthy habits. Eliminate sugars, caffeine and flour-based products like pasta and bread. Introduce high-quality fats like olive oil and avocados. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits. Turn to seafood, poultry and eggs for protein. Make permanent changes in your diet through small steps, like always eating salad for lunch or forgoing your evening glass of wine. You’ll see long-lasting changes fad diets just can’t achieve.

3. Getting at least seven hours of quality sleep per night


Exercise is the second pillar of healthy lifestyle habits. The benefits of exercise are endless: a stronger heart, increased bone density and muscle mass, better balance, a sharper mind, elevated mood, lowered stress – the list goes on. You don’t have to be a marathon runner – a brisk, 30-minute walk five times a week is all it takes to start seeing the benefits of exercise. Still sounds overwhelming? Do something physically active every day – yard work, housework, walking the dog – and work your way up. Exercise will soon become a daily healthy habit.

4. Developing healthy relationship


Healthy lifestyle habits are about more than your physical body. Connecting with others is also an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. Humans are some of the most social animals on the planet – we need relationships in order to live a fulfilling life. But not just any relationships: Deep, loving and supportive relationships can actually improve health, increase lifespan and lower your risk of depression. Stick to Tony’s healthy relationship rules and get all the benefits of a loving partnership.

5. Shift your focus to the long-term


Short-term solutions, like seven-day cleanses or 21-day fitness crazes, are designed to jumpstart healthy living and produce rapid results. But they’re often not feasible for the long-term. The key to getting healthy isn’t having a taste of your ideal self for a few weeks then reverting back to old ways. It’s about creating sustainable change. Consider behaviors you can adopt that you’ll be more likely to stick with over time. This way, your efforts won’t be lost, and you’ll feel the true benefits of change.

6. Realize that small steps make for big victories


Contrary to everything you might hear in flashy advertisements, slow and steady wins the race. Small, incremental steps are the best way to move towards your goals with success. If you’re trying to get more physically active, start with a 10-minute walk around your block a few times a week. If you want to reduce stress, trying meditating for 5 minutes once a week. You may think this sounds too easy, but that’s the point. Over time, you can increase your efforts and enjoy the benefit of these healthy activities without feeling that the journey was such a struggle.

7. Find the joy

A healthy life shouldn’t feel like so much damned work. If it does, then you’ll likely not stick with your new behaviors for too long. Rather than taking some generic route to health, figure out what you can do to support a healthy life that also fits your personality, and empowers and excites you. When you design your life around things you love to do – activities that are uplifting and fun – it will stop requiring so much effort. Once you find the joy in living healthy, that’s when the lifestyle will stick.

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