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Change a Habit by Setting Goals

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3. Prepare for slip-ups

It's perfectly normal to try to change a habit, go along fine for a while, and then have a setback. Lots of people try and try again before they reach their goals.

What are the things that might cause a setback for you? If you have tried to change a habit before, think about what helped you and what got in your way.

By thinking about these barriers now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.

There will be times when you slip up and don't make your goal for the week. When that happens, don't get mad at yourself. Learn from the experience. Ask yourself what got in the way of reaching your goal. Positive thinking goes a long way when you're making lifestyle changes.

actionset.gif Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started

4. Get support

The more support you have for making lifestyle changes, the easier it is to make those changes.

Try these tips for getting support:

  • Get a partner. It's motivating to know that someone is trying to make the same lifestyle change that you're making, like being more active or changing your eating habits. You have someone who is counting on you to help him or her succeed. That person can also remind you how far you've come.
  • Get friends and family involved. They can exercise with you or encourage you by saying how they admire what you are doing. Family members can join you in your healthy eating efforts. Don't be afraid to tell family and friends that their encouragement makes a big difference to you.
  • Join a class or support group. People in these groups often have some of the same barriers you have. They can give you support when you don't feel like staying with your plan. They can boost your morale when you need a lift. You'll also find a number of online support groups.
  • Give yourself positive reinforcement. When you feel like giving up, don't waste energy feeling bad about yourself. Remember your reason for wanting to change, think about the progress you've made, and give yourself a pep talk and a pat on the back.
  • Get professional help. A registered dietitian can help you make your diet healthier while still allowing you to eat foods that you enjoy. A trainer or physical therapist can help design an exercise program that is fun and easy to stay on. A psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, or your doctor can help you overcome hurdles, reduce stress, or quit smoking.

For more help, see:

Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.
actionset.gif Healthy Eating: Getting Support When Changing Your Eating Habits.
actionset.gif Healthy Eating: Starting a Plan For Change.
actionset.gif Healthy Eating: Staying With Your Plan.
actionset.gif Quitting Smoking: Getting Support.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 25, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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