Healthy Habits 15 June 2023 The theme of Men’s Health Week 2023 is Healthy Habits, focusing on encouraging men and boys to build healthy habits by identifying small changes that can benefit health and wellbeing. We often talk about goal setting to help manage diabetes, but goals can be difficult to achieve. According to Diabetes Educator Angela Blair, a more productive way of getting the outcome you want is to make new habits. What is the difference between a goal and a habit? A goal is something that you will achieve one day and then be able to cross off your list forever, such as planning a trip overseas, losing 10 kilograms, or paying off your credit card. All things that have a clear and defined ending. On the other hand, a habit is something that you do regularly and repeatedly, for example brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth every day is not a goal, it is a habit. For many people habits are so well ingrained that they are largely subconscious. You don’t have to remind yourself to brush your teeth (hopefully!) – you just do it. Making your health a habit can lead to bigger changes and better results. For example, if you make your daily walk a habit, then you may help to reduce your waistline and lower your blood glucose levels. Benefit of habits Good habits allow you to reach your goals If you want to be able to lift 300 pounds, you don’t start with 300 pounds, you start small and work up. By getting into the daily habit of lifting weights, you are on the way to achieving your goal. Habits set a foundation for life Since habits become you, the habits that you choose to follow set the tone for your entire life. If you get into the habit of eating a vegetable with every meal, you will become a healthier person. Habits are step one of your life plan If you have a life goal, it isn’t the goal itself that will help you reach your dreams, it is the habits that you form while you are trying to get there. Habits are the basic building blocks of reaching any goal or succeeding in any plan. Habits eliminate wasted time We tend to waste a lot of time. Most of us would rather not do anything difficult or challenging. However, if we create good habits, we become more efficient, and this reduces how much time we waste. Habits can replace motivation We all have days when we just don’t feel like working, exercising or eating well. But when these things are habits, they become second nature and we do them without thinking. When healthy eating becomes a habit, although you may eat one slice of cake today, you probably won’t eat more and will go right back to making healthy choices tomorrow. How to develop a habit 1. Start small and build up over time Find a new habit that may be easier to start, that you don’t need willpower or motivation to do. Rather than trying to start walking for 45 minutes a day, start with 10-15 minutes and build up from there either by adding in a second walk or extending the time gradually by five minutes building up to 30 to 45 minutes a day. 2. Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same pattern Reminder (the trigger that initiates the habit), Routine (the habit itself; the action you take), and Reward (the benefit you gain from the habit). This helpful framework can make it easier to stick to new habits. If there is a new habit you would like to start, work out your reminder, routine and reward.