How to Create a Healthy Routine: Planning

Creating a healthy routine starts with identifying the areas of your life that have the greatest impact on your overall wellness. For most of us, sleep, exercise, and diet fall pretty high on the list of priorities. But when you’re just getting started implementing change, it’s important not to rush to failure. Taking on too many new things all at once can make it hard to really give your best effort and make a lasting change. The best way to create a healthy routine that you can stick to is to start by making a plan. Keep reading to learn our favorite planning tips to set you and your family up for success.

Prioritize Your Priorities

Every family has different priorities and needs, and while it would be nice to tackle all of our priorities at once, we have to start with those areas that are going to have the biggest impact on our overall wellness. For example, if you work night shift, your first priority may be creating a healthy sleep routine for you and your family to ensure everyone is getting adequate rest despite a non-traditional schedule. If you have a job where you are frequently in the car, traveling, or are a busy parent raising kiddos at home, your first priority may be having healthy meal options prepared in advance to allow for your on-the-go, busy lifestyle. Whatever your personal circumstances, it’s important to identify your biggest priorities and from there, the priority that takes priority. With a little planning, creating new habits doesn’t have to be stressful and overwhelming.

Planning Tip: Write down the main habits that need to change in order for you live a healthier lifestyle. From there, choose the one that has the biggest impact on your overall wellness, or the one that is currently causing you the most stress. This is your starting point. 

Tackle Low Hanging Fruit First

Once you identify your first priority, start making the simple changes first. For example, if snacking and takeout are the biggest things holding you back from your health goals, your first priority might be starting a meal prep routine to ensure that you have healthy options available during the week. Rather than dive head first into a full Sunday prep day where you prepare all your meals for the week ahead, it’s wise to start small so you don’t burn out (or throw away food). New habits take over 60 days on average to stick, so if you do too much all at once, you may struggle to keep up with your new routine. Going back to our example, a great starting point in establishing a meal prep routine for someone who struggles with snacks and impulse ordering is to prepare a variety of healthy snacks that are easy to grab when hunger hits. That may look like baggies of raw veggies already portioned out in the fridge, pre-portioned baggies of nuts and dried fruit in the pantry to grab on your way out the door, or individually prepared ingredients for quick throw-together dinners, like ground meat and sweet potatoes. 

Planning Tip: Planning is a two-part activity that requires us to take note of what is working and what is not. When you begin making changes to an area of your life, make sure to take notes at the end of each week on how those changes look in action. Does this new habit feel maintainable or exhausting? Make changes accordingly before moving on to the next new habit.

Keep a Calendar

Scheduling and planning are very important practices in today’s busy world, especially as the lines between work and home have blurred in the last two years. Whether you’re a fan of electronic calendars or paper calendars and planners, it’s important to have a place where all of your engagements can live. When you’re looking to create a healthy lifestyle routine, treat your health practices as you would a work appointment and schedule it into your day. We are less likely to cancel something that we have written into our calendar, even when life tries to get in the way. After a few months of adjusting to a new lifestyle routine, you may not need to rely on a calendar to stick to your new habits, but especially as you’re getting used to a new normal, it’s helpful to have everything scheduled in one place.

Planning Tip: The same way you would schedule kids’ practices, work meetings, and personal appointments, schedule time for meal prep, exercise, and meditation. You can even schedule your sleep and wake times if you have a really busy lifestyle. While it may seem overboard to schedule the activities of your life, proper planning ensures the important things get done each day, and even allows time and flexibility for the unexpected.

Creating a healthy routine is simple, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy. With all change comes some sacrifice. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, you will have to sacrifice some habits that aren’t serving you in your pursuit of healthy living. Whether that means taking time out of your weekend to prepare healthy snacks and meal options, going to bed earlier to allow for more sleep, or replacing TV time with exercise, forming new habits requires us to part with old ones. Our best advice for creating a healthy routine for your life, and sticking with it, is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable for a little while. After a few months, what was once uncomfortable will become your new normal, and over time that hard work pays off big as you reap the rewards of healthy living!