How I Finally Learned Healthy Habits in My 30s
posted on October 11, 2018 | by Chelsea Becker
I’ve already documented how I feel about your thirties in terms of health. It’s a decade to really hone in on taking care of yourself (at least it has been for me), and I’m very much enjoying this stage of life. But that’s not to say that you magically wake up on your 30th birthday craving more vegetables and wanting to drink less tequila. It actually does take action and energy, unfortunately.
I recently had a friend ask me how I went about becoming so much healthier the last few years and instead of listing out WHAT I started doing/not doing, I explained to her HOW. How I made those switches, and ultimately, how I made the healthy habits stick. Here’s what I realized it came down to for me…
I got a buddy
I went through a really healthy change right before I turned 30 that consisted of starting a regular workout routine, learning to eat healthy, and losing 20 lbs, and it all started with my friend Nick. You see, Nick was one of the healthiest people I worked with and he happened to be a close friend. After years of watching him bring in lunches and say no to the third beer (all while I was slamming grilled cheeses and drinking whatever the hell I wanted), it finally clicked. If I truly wanted to change my lifestyle, I needed to be consistently healthy – or making better decisions.
I asked Nick to basically train me in food and exercise and to be my accountability partner (in a very non lame way). I’d check in with him on what I was eating, I’d mimic his snack choices, and we’d go to the gym together before work (something I definitely wasn’t doing beforehand). But I knew Nick would be there waiting for me, and he always was.
If you’re someone who needs accountability and lacks personal willpower, get a healthy buddy. Find someone at work if possible since you spend most of your day there, or see if your partner or BFF wants to help. You can even log food/workouts in something like a Google doc and share it with each other if you’re not in the same building. Just get someone to keep you in line, and you’ll eventually be able to check yourself once those habits form.
I made time for it
In my 20s, I often didn’t think I had time to be healthy. Psh, helloooo, I had happy hours and birthday parties to attend – there was no way I was wasting my nights or weekends prepping food, working out, or caring for my mind. But as we all probably realize looking back, we had all the time in the world! And even as I turned 30, I knew I had plenty of extra time. I mean, single mothers put children through school and work double jobs sometimes, surely I could find an hour a day to dedicate to being healthy. And I did!
If you find yourself “too busy” to lead a healthy life or make a habit, do me (and yourself a favor) and get realistic. Check your daily schedule/habits and see what could be cut. Are you scrolling Instagram 5x a day? That’s probably an hour a day. Are you hooked on Netflix? There’s your hour. Does showering and getting ready take too long each morning? Shower before bed and wear less makeup. It’s really simple when you think about it.
Spend an hour a day working on yourself. Go for a walk, go to an exercise class, make a healthy meal, go to the grocery, stretch, whatever! Just know that you’ve got an hour a day to work in those healthy habits, and it’ll become a habit you likely look forward to.
I made it black and white
When talking to my friend about how I went through this healthy transformation, I realized how simple it seemed coming from my end. When you do have healthy habits (or are on the “other side,”), it’s hard to remember how you felt before you had healthy habits. But something that really helped me was making these habits black and white – something Nick really helped me with.
If I didn’t have energy, it was because I wasn’t eating well, staying hydrated or getting enough sleep. So when I felt tired, I’d make sure to eat nutritious meals, down water, and cancel my evening plans to go to bed early. If I felt shitty after eating candy one day, I wouldn’t have it the next. If I felt like my brain was foggy, I’d meditate or go for a walk without distractions. And if I found myself eating out a lot, I’d make sure to stop by the grocery instead of plopping on the couch.
I’d suggest trying to take the whole guessing game out of living a healthy lifestyle and just try to make things black and white. We usually know the changes that we need to make, so it’s just about actually doing them – without letting yourself back out or think of ways to avoid them. See if you can get through one week of black-and-white willpower, then do it again.
I tracked my changes and celebrated little victories
I still remember being at the gym and running my first mile without completely dying. Yes, it was only a mile (something some people can do in their sleep), but as someone who hadn’t been working out and had been trying to run a little daily to build up endurance, this was MAJOR! I might have cried.
I kept track of my changes (good or bad) on an app MyFitnessPal and would do weekly check-ins with myself. I’d see where I struggled this week, where I excelled, where I got stronger, what meals I loved/hated this week, etc. And I made sure to focus more on the good than the bad. So what if I ended up going out to dinner with friends and eating a plate of fries? I also ran a mile a day and learned to make a really healthy veggie stew – which I ate more than the fries!
No matter the platform, find ways to check in with yourself while noting the changes and celebrating the victories. You might even get hooked on seeing results like I did, and that alone is such motivation!
I went little by little
Finally, I learned that living a healthy lifestyle is all about being present. I always hated when people would say “its a lifestyle, not a diet” or things like that – and what I found to be more helpful was thinking of everything day by day, hour by hour (kind of like the one week of will power at a time that I mentioned above).
Thinking of eating healthy food for life is effing overwhelming. So is thinking of all the workouts you’d have to do in life. Or all the changes you need to make, or never eating grilled cheeses again (because you will!). And so on. Instead, think of your life at one day at a time. What’s one thing you could do today to build a healthy habit? Maybe it’s vowing to not buy the sourdough bread and keep it in your house. Maybe it’s walking one more block on your morning walk. Or maybe it’s getting up 20 minutes earlier to set a morning routine and make breakfast.
And then it’s also knowing that one grilled cheese (can you tell this is my thing?), one skipped workout, or one boozy late night isn’t the end of the world or your healthy habits. Just do a little something extra the next day and treat your body to a big healthy meal – one veggie at a time.
How have you developed your healthy habits? Or habits in general?