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Transform Your Health with Microhabits: A Habit Coach’s Guide to Sustainable Change

Published on: January 20, 2024

Ever had a health goal only to get a few months in and were still nowhere close, or felt like you didn’t consistently go in the right direction? Microhabits might be the key you’re looking for. I know, and I’m sure you do too, the importance of making small, sustainable changes always outweighs trying to do too much too quickly. In this blog post, I’ll go through the concept of microhabits and how you can leverage them to create lasting positive changes in your lifestyle to reach your health goals.

What are Microhabits?

Microhabits are the tiny actions we integrate into our daily routines that, over time, can accumulate into remarkable results. Unlike drastic lifestyle overhauls, microhabits are manageable, allowing for a smoother transition and increased likelihood of long-term adherence. This goes along the lines of creating SMART goals which I talked about in a previous post. 

Something to consider with microhabits is that they’re often done daily. It’s easier to be consistent with a habit if it’s something you do each day. Trying to remember to do something 3 times a week is tough because you actively need to remember what day you’ll be doing that habit. It’s also easy to push off to the next day if you know you have a few days left of the week to do it. Like if you tell yourself you want to go to the gym 3 times a week but you bail on it Monday to Wednesday, it’s going to be tough to force yourself to go Thursday to Saturday. Something could happen that the gym is closed, that work or life gets too busy, and then you’re stuck missing your goal of going 3 times this week, making you feel defeated.  

If the microhabits you’re choosing are not something you do daily, it’s often wise to have certain habits for weekdays vs weekends, or if you’re a shift worker, plan according to day-shifts, night-shifts and days off. If you’re a stay at home mom, the days you have help (husband is home or one of the 2 kids goes to daycare/school) might include different habits than when you have all kids at home. Most of us like routine, so being able to plan your habit around the same time each day when your environment is the same, will help! 

It’s like when people trying to make healthier eating choices do great during the week because they pack lunches and their meal times are more planned, vs going off the rails on the weekend because they’re at home, the kitchen is right there, they’re making snacks for the kids all day, and they go out to eat for date night or with friends. Setting up a healthy ‘weekend routine’ helps!

How do you know what Microhabits to start doing?

Start by choosing your overarching health and fitness goals. Whether it’s weight management, improved energy levels, or enhanced nutrition, you need to tailor your microhabits to align with your end goal. 

Develop a plan that revolves around gradual changes. Set realistic, achievable goals to make it easy to stick to and build a sense of accomplishment. Consistency is the key, as microhabits thrive on repetition and routine. We know very well that if something is too hard, there’s a good chance we won’t stick with it. 

Microhabits for Nutrition 

Here’s a list of nutrition-focused microhabits for ideas on what you can incorporate into your daily routines for long-term health benefits:

  • Hydration Boost:
    • Microhabit: Start your day with a glass of water before anything else. Make a smoothie in the afternoon. Drink a calming tea in the evening. 
    • Why: Hydration kickstarts your metabolism and helps maintain overall bodily functions.
  • Vegetable Variety:
    • Microhabit: Add a colorful vegetable to each meal.
    • Why: Different vegetables offer a variety of nutrients, promoting overall health.
  • Mindful Eating Moments:
    • Microhabit: Take a moment of mindfulness before each meal, appreciating the colors, textures, and flavors. Keep your phone, laptop and/or tv off and not within reach. 
    • Why: Mindful eating fosters a healthier relationship with food and can prevent overeating.
  • Portion Control:
    • Microhabit: Use smaller plates to control portion sizes.
    • Why: Smaller plates naturally lead to smaller portions, promoting weight management.
  • Protein-Packed Snacks:
    • Microhabit: Opt for protein-rich snacks like nuts, yogurt, or hummus.
    • Why: Protein helps with satiety and supports muscle maintenance.
  • Slow Down and Savour:
    • Microhabit: Chew your food slowly and savour each bite. Chew each bite 30 times before swallowing. 
    • Why: Eating slowly allows your body to recognize fullness, preventing overeating.
  • Smart Substitutions:
    • Microhabit: Swap one processed snack with a whole, nutrient-dense alternative.
    • Why: Gradually replacing processed foods with whole foods improves overall nutrition.
  • Colorful Smoothie Ritual:
    • Microhabit: Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your daily smoothie.
    • Why: Smoothies provide a convenient way to consume a spectrum of nutrients and increase your fluid consumption.
  • Herbal Tea Delight:
    • Microhabit: Replace one sugary beverage with herbal tea each day.
    • Why: Reducing sugar intake supports overall health and hydration.
  • Early Dinner:
    • Microhabit: Aim to finish dinner at least two hours before bedtime.
    • Why: Allowing time for digestion before sleep improves overall sleep quality.
  • Label Reading:
    • Microhabit: Read the nutritional labels of one new product per grocery trip.
    • Why: Understanding food labels helps make informed, healthier choices.
  • Fiber-Rich Additions:
    • Microhabit: Include a high-fiber food (like beans, legumes or whole grains) in at least one meal per day.
    • Why: Fiber aids digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness. As a female adult, you ideally want to aim for 25 grams per day.
  • Cooking at Home:
    • Microhabit: Cook one more meal at home per week than usual.
    • Why: Home-cooked meals allow for better control over ingredients and portions.
  • Daily Vitamin Dose:
    • Microhabit: Consciously include a food high in vitamin D (like fatty fish or fortified dairy) in your daily diet.
    • Why: Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, mental health and immune function.
  • Gratitude Journal for Nutrition:
    • Microhabit: Keep a gratitude journal, noting one nutritious food you’re thankful for each day.
    • Why: Focusing on positive aspects reinforces a healthy mindset toward food.

Choose a few that resonate with you, and slowly incorporate them into your routine for lasting results. These small adjustments can have a profound impact on your overall diet.

Exercise and Fitness Microhabits

Here’s a list of microhabits focused on fitness and exercise that you can integrate into your daily routines for long-term health benefits:

  • Morning Stretch Routine:
    • Microhabit: Start your day with a quick stretching routine.
    • Why: Stretching improves flexibility, enhances circulation, and prepares your body for the day.
  • Stairs Over Elevator:
    • Microhabit: Opt for stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
    • Why: Climbing stairs is a simple way to incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your day.
  • Desk Exercise Breaks:
    • Microhabit: Take a short break every hour for desk exercises (e.g., standing squats, leg lifts).
    • Why: Regular movement boosts energy levels and prevents stiffness.
  • Lunchtime Walks:
    • Microhabit: Use part of your lunch break for a brisk walk.
    • Why: Walking aids digestion and provides a mental break.
  • Park Further Away:
    • Microhabit: Park your car farther away from your destination.
    • Why: This adds extra steps to your day, promoting physical activity.
  • Bodyweight Challenge:
    • Microhabit: Incorporate a daily bodyweight exercise routine (e.g., push-ups, squats, lunges).
    • Why: Bodyweight exercises improve strength and require minimal time and equipment.
  • Active Commuting:
    • Microhabit: Bike or walk for short errands instead of driving.
    • Why: Active commuting integrates exercise into your daily routine.
  • Fitness App Commitment:
    • Microhabit: Dedicate 10 minutes daily to a fitness app workout.
    • Why: Quick, guided workouts are time-efficient and effective.
  • TV Time Fitness:
    • Microhabit: Perform exercises (e.g., planks, lunges) during TV commercial breaks.
    • Why: Utilize downtime for physical activity without disrupting your routine.
  • Stretching before Bed:
    • Microhabit: Stretch for 5-10 minutes before bedtime.
    • Why: Evening stretches can help relax muscles and improve sleep quality.
  • Walking Meetings:
    • Microhabit: Suggest walking meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
    • Why: Walking boosts creativity and productivity while incorporating exercise.
  • Fitness Tracker Challenge:
    • Microhabit: Set a daily step goal on your fitness tracker.
    • Why: Tracking steps provides motivation and awareness of daily activity levels.
  • Playtime with Pets:
    • Microhabit: Engage in active play with your pets for 10-15 minutes daily.
    • Why: Bonding with your pets while staying active enhances both physical and mental well-being.
  • Yoga or Stretching Breaks:
    • Microhabit: Incorporate short yoga or stretching breaks during work hours.
    • Why: These breaks can relieve tension, improve posture, and enhance flexibility.
  • Active Hobbies:
    • Microhabit: Choose at least one active hobby (e.g., gardening, dancing, biking, kayaking).
    • Why: Engaging in enjoyable activities ensures consistent physical activity.

Remember, the key to successful microhabits is to choose those that align with your preferences and gradually integrate them into your routine. Consistency is key to building a sustainable fitness habit over time.

Embracing the Power of Microhabits

Incorporating microhabits into your daily life is a powerful strategy for achieving sustainable health and fitness goals. For the sake of the length of the post, I only included nutrition and exercise microhabits but there are plenty others that still pertain to health, both physical, mental and emotional. 

By making small, consistent changes, you can create a foundation for a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Celebrate your progress with each small step, and witness the transformative impact these tiny yet mighty habits can have long-term. Over time, they truly build your confidence in that area of your life which pushes you to keep going. Remember, the key to success lies in the daily commitment to these microhabits. Start small, stay consistent, and watch as these incremental changes pave the way for a healthier lifestyle.

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Kaitlyn is a registered dietitian and fitness enthusiast dedicated to helping busy women improve their health through sustainable habits.

She’s seen firsthand how difficult it can be to balance a demanding schedule with a healthy lifestyle. That’s why she is passionate about empowering women with the knowledge and skills they need to prioritize their health, even when life gets hectic.

She aims to spread the word about the power of habits and to make healthier living more manageable for busy women who are trying to do all of the things, like herself.

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