Healthy lifestyle habits are not always easy to maintain. Two experts from Keck Medicine of USC share tips about how to make them last.
Positive lifestyle changes can have big effects on your health, both today and for the long term. But the journey takes planning and patience.
Two experts from Keck Medicine of USC weigh in on The Big Question.
Jennifer Boozer, DO, primary care physician, USC Family Medicine
First, I recommend patients attach a new habit to something they’re already doing.
For example, taking a new medication could be paired with brushing their teeth. Many years ago, there was a drug company that put the name of their medication on toothbrushes. I thought that was clever.
“Whether it’s an exercise buddy or a dietitian you consult on a regular basis, having a trusted partner can make a good habit stick.“
Jennifer Boozer, DO
Second, prioritize your new goals. Put a desired habit on your calendar and work everything else around it.
Once, an older patient of mine needed to make a follow-up medical appointment. But she said that the window we gave her was not acceptable because she had to exercise at that time.
She had committed to that habit, and nothing was going to derail her!
It’s also helpful when others can help hold you accountable. Whether it’s an exercise buddy or a dietitian you consult on a regular basis, having a trusted partner can make a good habit stick.
Allison Larraga, MS, RDN, bariatric program manager, USC Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program
Keeping healthy habits is not just about willpower. You need to create an environment that makes it easier to be successful.
If you don’t typically cook, a busy Monday night is probably not the best time to try.
“Remember: If you have setbacks, it’s not a moral failure. What works for you is bound to be different from what works for a neighbor or friend.“
Allison Larraga, MS, RDN
Instead, a Saturday might be better, when you have lots of time to attempt that new recipe or have a friend come over and you can do it together.
I’ve told patients, “You want to make it more convenient to make something at home than to go through the drive-thru.”
It’s easy to want to change everything at once, but it’s the small changes that add up. I recommend picking two or three things that you want to work on and mastering those first.
Remember: If you have setbacks, it’s not a moral failure. What works for you is bound to be different from what works for a neighbor or friend. Allowing yourself the grace to know that is so important.