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How To Start A Healthy Lifestyle – And Stick To It!

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There’s never a bad time to start a healthy lifestyle. However, in January, it seems that most everyone has a resolution to “lose weight” or “eat better.” But what happens? A few weeks go by (maybe even not that long) and most of us have already abandoned our goal.

Why is that?

Life happens. Maybe things get busy at work and we find ourselves short on time. Perhaps “the plan” didn’t work out. Maybe the end-goal just seemed too far-off and unattainable.

Wanting to start a healthy lifestyle isn’t really the issue…it’s sticking to it!

I’ve simplified what it means to “start a healthy lifestyle” and put together some suggestions to help you stick to your goal. By setting smart goals, making one small diet change at a time, and having a realistic exercise routine, we can all make some long-lasting changes.

how to start a healthy lifestyle and stick to it

Think About Your Goals

When you set goals for yourself, you have something specific to work towards. Which is easier to visualize? To say “I want to lose weight” or “I’d like to lose 10 pounds in the next 6 months.”

For me, the latter! Sure, I can imagine looking and feeling a certain goal weight, but in the thick of things, having a more-defined goal is much more motivating.

You may be familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. goal formula. It says that goals should be

SSpecific. Goal should have a clear, specific end point.

MMeasureable. You need to be able to accurately track your progress, so you can judge when a goal is met (or exceeded!).

AAttainable. Give yourself a chance for success! Goals that are unrealistic, or seem unattainable, make it difficult to remain motivated.

RRelevant. Don’t set goals for someone else. And if you’re wanting to set healthy living goals, don’t throw housekeeping, money-saving, and organization tasks in there as well. Stay on topic.

TTime-bound. Time helps to further the specificity of a goal. Depending on your preference, you may prefer shorter time periods such as days or weeks, or longer time periods such as months or maybe even years (I’d be careful about setting your time marker too far in the future).

SMART Goals In Action

I’ll give you a few examples:

Not-So-SMART Goals

  • Eat better.
  • Exercise more.
  • Lose 100 pounds.
  • Go from no exercise to running a marathon.


  • Eat at least one vegetable with every meal for the next two weeks.
  • Walk for exercise for 45 minutes, 3 times a week.
  • Lose an average of 2 pounds per week for the next month (and then extend).
  • Use an app (like C25K) to run a 5k in the next 8 weeks.

By making SMART goals, you have an anchor for all of your focus and decision-making when starting a healthy lifestyle.

Dieting Made Simple

The word “diet” makes some people cringe. There are fad diets, low carb diets, juicing diets, high fat diets, low sugar diets, I mean I could keep this list going for a lonnnnng time.

That’s probably a lot of the issue – we don’t really know what a “diet” means anymore.

Simply put, a diet is just the kinds of food that you eat. For example, you may be on a vegetarian diet. That being said, many associate the word “diet” with restricting themselves either for weight loss or medical purposes. And as we’ve seen, there are many ways to do that.

If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to burn and use more calories than you take in.

3 keys to a healthy diet

When considering a diet, there are 3 main components:

1. Food choices

This includes the kinds of food you eat. You may choose to follow a diet plan like I listed above, or perhaps you just want to eat less processed foods.

One simple way to eat fresher, less processed meals is to “shop the aisles.” As we were learning what it means to “eat clean,” someone told me to pay attention to the grocery store layouts. All of the fresh foods are around the perimeter – the fruits, veggies, dairy, meats, etc. In the aisles of each store are the shelf-stable (aka more processed) products.

First, fill your cart with things from along the walls of the store, and then fill in other necessities from the middle.

Now listen, I’m not going to lie, my kids often have Goldfish and fruit gummies for snacks. But when I cook meals, I do try to avoid as many filler/frozen/pre-cooked ingredients as possible.

2. Hydration

Research has proven that you should drink half your weight in ounces of water a day minimally.

For ease of math sake, let’s say I weigh 100 pounds (I’m nearly 6′ tall…I think the last time I weighed that much was elementary school 😉). So throughout the day, I need at least 50 oz of water.

That may sound like a lot, but if you pace yourself, it is actually pretty doable. You could try to drink 1/4 of your requirement before mid-morning, another 1/4 before or during lunch, another 1/4 before you leave work, and the last 1/4 throughout the evening or with dinner.

I like to start each morning with a tumbler full of water (about 32 oz) It usually only takes me about 30 minutes to finish as I’m getting my daughter ready for Pre-K. I don’t allow myself to have a cup of coffee until that water cup is empty. I don’t mind being rewarded with coffee, haha!

3. Portion control

Sometimes a healthy lifestyle is less about what to eat and more about how much we eat.

When filling your plate, go for the veggies first, followed by protein, and then any carbs or side dishes. Veggies or a salad should make up about 1/2 of your plate. Protein and complex carbs each get about 1/4. In addition, using a smaller plate may help to satisfy your eyes long before your stomach.

If fractions aren’t your thing, you can try this cool tip I found on healthline.com and use your hands as a portion control guide!

A rough guide for each meal is:

  • High-protein foods: A palm-sized serving for women and two
    palm-sized portions for men — such as meat, fish, poultry and beans
  • Vegetables and salads: A fist-sized portion for women and two
    fist-sized portions for men
  • High-carb foods: One cupped-hand portion for women and
    two for men — such as whole grains and starchy vegetables
  • High-fat foods: One thumb-sized portion for women and
    two for men — such as butter, oils and nuts

Portion control is definitely my battle with food – especially if sugar is involved! I had someone once say to ask yourself “are you eating because you’re hungry, because it tastes good, or because you’re bored?” If your answer is anything but “hungry,” in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “put the cookie down!”

How to stay committed to a diet

When choosing a diet for your healthy lifestyle, be realistic. If you don’t like fish, a pescatarian diet will be hard for you to stick with.

Unless it’s medically necessary, perhaps making small changes at a time would work best for you. There’s usually no need to totally uproot your lifestyle and go “cold turkey” on your old habits. Maybe start out by eliminating sugary snacks, then try eating more vegetables.

To stay committed to a diet, you need to think of it as a “lifestyle change” and not a life sentence.

Changes made gradually overtime will be easier to stick with and stay committed to than massive changes all at once.

Side note, as I was writing this post, my daughters were watching Llama Llama on Netflix in the background. Mama Llama said “everything in moderation. Just because I want to start eating healthier foods, doesn’t mean I can’t have a cupcake once in awhile.” Be like to Mama Llama.

Honestly, I’m not great at dieting. I have two kids, I love snacks, and sometimes fast food is what helps me make it through the evening. But, you can’t out-train a bad diet. If you want to start a healthy lifestyle and stick with it, you’ll need both diet and exercise.

start a healthy lifestyle and stick to it for moms

Exercise for Beginners

If you’re new to exercise, sometimes the biggest hurdle is just getting started!

To get going, try different group fitness classes at your local gym and see what you like best. If working out at home is more of your thing, my friend Lola put together a great list of 19 FREE YouTube Workout Channels you can check out.

Once you find an activity that you enjoy, exercise will feel less like a chore and something that you look forward to!

How much exercise should I get per day?

For adults, the CDC recommends 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) of physical activity per week. Don’t freak out on me – if that seems like a lot, don’t forget that that’s a recommendation per week. That could mean exercising 30 minutes for 5 days, or fewer days with longer, more intense workouts.

Getting 150 minutes per week is probably a lot more realistic of a goal than you may have thought.

If your goal is 30 minutes, you could break that down even farther and shoot for two 15-minute sessions. That could easily be a morning and afternoon walk break at work.

Mama, you’re busy, I hear you! For a little extra help, check out this list of 13 simple tips for staying healthy when you don’t have time for the gym.

Low-impact home workouts

Low-impact workouts are great for newbies, or for those who workout regularly. They increase your heart rate while keeping the amount of stress or impact you put your joints to a minimum.

Here are a few examples:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical

These will still get your heartrate up and improve your cardio fitness without the intense impact of activities such as running or jumping.

If you’re looking for more of a full body low impact workout, videos such as the one below from Body Project may be just what you need.

5 Tips On How To Stick To Your Plan

1. Form new habits to avoid falling back into bad ones.

When breaking a habit, it’s important to replace it with something else – especially in the beginning. You may need something to “fill the void” while you work on changing your habits.

For example, if your habit is to have a piece of candy in the afternoon (ha, guilty!), replace it with a piece of fruit or maybe a less sugary snack.

Not all habits are bad, and I believe no one can realistically live a totally perfect healthy lifestyle. So form new habits and make changes as you go along, but give yourself some grace.

2. Make one or two small changes at a time.

Like we mentioned earlier, small changes over time are much more manageable and are easier to stick with. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Pick one or two things you’d like to change and focus on those until you feel comfortable. Then, go on to the next phase.

If you need a starting point, I suggest checking your hydration habits! Drinking more water will help you reduce those other sugary drinks that can be so tempting (and have extra empty calories!).

3. Be specific.

Think back to your SMART goals. A dream without a plan is just a wish, and you’ll need to know what your “dream” is in order to get there! If your goal seems too intimidating, break it up into smaller, more manageable groups and take it one step at a time.

4. Track your progress.

If you need some motivation to keep going, you’ll want to see how far you’ve come! The scale is an obvious way, to track your progress but not always an accurate one.

Non-Scale Victories:

  • how your clothes fit
  • energy level
  • breathing rate when climbing stairs
  • able to do more of what you love
  • better sleep
  • ease of exercise
  • loss of inches
  • improved mood

5. Find Your Teammates

You are not in this alone! Many of us are looking for realistic ways to start a healthy lifestyle and stick with it, all while managing our busy work and family lives.

Want even more tips? Get instant access to 7 Secrest to a Healthy Lifestyle (for Moms!) by clicking the button below.

We are not competitors in this healthy lifestyle adventure – we are teammates and all have the ability to make our health dreams come true!

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