Sticking with Healthy Behaviors Long-Term


“I’ve got to get back to my healthy behaviors. I haven’t been as consistent this past month as I’d like, and I found one of the pounds I lost.” That was part of my conversation with my hubby earlier this week. August was an interesting month – on the plus side, we were able to spend time with three couples we absolutely love, including my bestie and her hubby. On the other side of the coin, we’ve had several sleepless nights due to a sick pup and a few 90-degree days with no air conditioning.

When we have other things going on, good or bad, it can be hard to stick with our healthy behaviors. Sometimes I think, “If I just had a solid month where I didn’t have to do anything but concentrate on my health I could really make some good progress.” Life just doesn’t work that way, though, does it?

The challenge is to find a way to keep going with the things we’re trying to do for our wellness while dealing with ‘real life.’ As we talked about in Making Room for ‘Real Life’ in Your Wellness Plan, we feel as if we have to have a perfect plan and stick to it perfectly, but that just isn’t realistic.

And sometimes, even if we’re following our plan to the tee, we don’t see any visible progress. During these times we may be tempted to just give up. So what do we do? Here are a few things that may help:

Remember Your ‘Why’.

We talked about the importance of knowing our “why” in Finding Your Why for Wellness Changes. Knowing – and reminding ourselves of – our “why” can give us the motivation to keep going. It can be hard to make healthy choices just for the sake of making healthy choices, but when we remember we’re doing it so we can get on the floor and play with our children, it makes it easier to persevere.

Change Things Up.

When it’s taking a while for us to see results, it can be hard to keep doing those same things we’ve been doing. Not only does doing the exact same thing over and over cause boredom, it can actually slow our progress. Our bodies are wonderfully adaptive, and if we do the ‘same ol’ thing’ all the time, they’ll adapt to that and we may find our progress stalls or stops.

One important note here, though — don’t try to change too many things at once. If you do, you run the risk of not being able to tell which changes are working for you. Something as simple as just cross-training (mixing things up between activities you like to do) can really help you avoid boredom and use different systems within the body.

Changing things up from time to time can provide a little ‘wake-up’ for our bodies.

Sometimes, though, continuing our new wellness behaviors gets hard because life happens. You know what I mean – we get super-busy, or someone in our household gets sick, or we have a lot of stress and just don’t have the bandwidth for one more thing. If that’s the case, sometimes the best thing we can do is….

Get Back to the Basics.

Maybe all you can do right now is the very basic things. That’s okay – just stick to the healthy habits you’ve already learned, and let that be enough for now. You may not make a lot of progress doing this, but it can keep you from going backward. And remember, since those healthy behaviors are already habits, they’re kind of like your ‘healthy lifestyle program’ running in the background. They’re benefitting you even if you’re not seeing visible results.

Occasionally things start feeling hard because we’ve been making demands on our bodies for a long period of time. Sticking with healthy behaviors, especially if they’re pretty restrictive, can cause stress on our bodies and make us just want to give up on the whole thing. If this happens, maybe you just need to take a bit of a break.

Take a Week or so for Active Recovery

When you’re feeling overworked, overstressed, or overtired by your wellness efforts, it may be time to take a little time for active recovery. This isn’t a complete break from your wellness habits — as you know, once we stop something it can be hard to get started again.

What it does mean is that you do lower levels of the things you’re already doing. For instance, rather than sticking to your regular workout schedule, you might want to take a walk or ride your bike during that time. Or with eating, if you’ve been really restrictive with your diet, you may need to ‘loosen the reins’ a little. You can still eat the healthy foods you’ve been eating, but you can give yourself permission to be a little less restrictive.

In the fitness world, we call this periodization, and we actually plan active recovery periods into our plan. It not only helps our bodies to recover from the stress we place on them, it can help us stick with our plans long-term. This can be particularly important for post-menopausal women, as we no longer have estrogen to help deal with the stress we’re putting our bodies under. Chronic stress = weight gain, among other things.

Stick With It — You’re Worth It!

There may (will almost definitely) be times when it gets hard, or when it looks as if you’re not making progress. Let me assure you that’s far from the truth.  Even if you’re not seeing outward changes, if you’re being pretty consistent with your healthy behaviors, positive changes are taking place beneath the surface.

When we go through times that make it hard to stick with our healthy behaviors, it can be tempting to just give up, but I encourage you to trust the process and realize that things are going on ‘behind the scenes.’ Remembering your ‘why’, changing things up a bit, getting back to the basics, and even giving yourself a little break may be just what you need to be able to continue working toward the healthy lifestyle you want to live. Remember – it’s not about perfection; it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle long-term.

Do you ever have trouble sticking with your healthy behaviors? What have you found helpful for getting through these times?  Please share!



Older couple walking through the woods in Autumn, with text overlay: Sticking with Healthy Behaviors Long-Term
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  1. I feel so out of touch with my health and habits right now, Terri. For eighteen months we have hosted Ukrainian families, which means my routines are all shot. Looking forward to finding and maintaining a new norm.

    1. You and Ric are so generous, VJ! I know although it’s been rewarding, hosting these families has also been hard on your health. Are you guys still hosting, or have all your families found more permanent homes now? I admire you guys so much – you truly have ‘put feet to your prayers’! I hope you’re able to find a new norm that works for you soon. Sending lots of love and hugs your way sweet friend!

      1. Thanks Terri. Our fifth family just moved out this weekend. I’d like to say it was a positive experience, but it drained us. (One bad apple). One woman remains with us and will until the war is over or maybe beyond. She is my age and I love her like a sister, as does Ric. Her companionship brings us much comfort. We will not focus on regaining our health and routine.

        1. Ugh… I’m really sorry to hear you had a not-so-great experience with this last family. It’s wonderful to hear that you’ve made a new friend (family member) though! It sounds like having her there is a great arrangement for both you guys and for her. Hopefully things will settle down a little now and you’ll be able to get back into your routine and feel more like yourself. Hugs!

    1. Hi Mel, thanks for stopping by! How’s everything going out your way? I hope you’re doing as well as possible sweet friend. Hugs!

        1. I really hope you’re able to move forward and let go of the anger so it’s not holding you prisoner anymore. It’s so hard when people (and their actions) hurt us to just let go, but in the long run, we hurt ourselves by holding onto unforgiveness and anger. You know I’ll be praying for you my friend. You’ve got this — you’ve been through so much, and I know you’ll get through this too. Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

          1. All very true, it’s the rage that makes this more difficult but I’m putting the whole experience behind me. My health and sanity aren’t worth it and it will only drag me down. Have a great day.

  2. What a great post Terri with some good suggestions. Often times for me when I’m trying to maintain a long term healthy routine is the monotony. Changing things up is a good idea for re-energizing your reason “why” you are doing what you are doing in the first place. Sometimes doing something different is the key we need to stay focused.

    1. Thanks so much Mark! Like you, I have to change things up every once in a while or I get bored. The challenge of doing something new can, as you said, reenergize us. Hope you’re doing well my friend. Blessings to you!

  3. Good points and reminders. When we keep doing things, even if we feel they are correct, but they aren’t working, it was good to be reminded to change the method.

    1. Thank you so much Mary! It’s funny how we can be doing all the ‘right’ things and still not make progress sometimes, isn’t it? Our bodies are so amazing, and sometimes they just seem to have a mind of their own. I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the end of summer. Blessings to you!

  4. I hear you Terri, I stepped on the scales yesterday & realised with horror I too had found some pounds I had lost a long time ago!😕

    As you know with FM it’s boom & bust with energy cycles. Although, it becomes disheartening when it’s a bust cycle… Even though I try to keep a smile on my face 😉

    To answer your question;
    I just try & get back into my routine which I keep flexible rather than rigid, I find this more encouraging & motivational.
    Blessings, Jennifer

    1. Oh Jennifer, I can definitely empathize. I’ve been dealing with those same fibro issues this past month. Like you, I do what I can when I can, and enjoy the things I CAN do. I also find that having a routine that’s more flexible is helpful in not giving up when we have those “bust” cycles. Hope you’re doing well and staying warm sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

  5. Lovely post, Terri. And so encouraging. I am really focusing on getting my 5+ a day & you’re so right that the healthy habits do become routine. Giving myself dome leeway at the moment, as stress is piling on. Hoping it eases off soon.

    1. Thanks so much Penny! I’m so glad you found it encouraging. I’m glad to hear that you’re giving yourself some leeway as you have that extra stress of moving and everything. I think giving ourselves permission to just do what we need to do for ourselves – even if it’s not the absolute ‘healthiest’ thing – is as important as our actual healthy habits sometimes. You’re in my prayers sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

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