For many of us, the new year comes with setting goals to make healthy lifestyle changes. In fact, if you care about health and wellness (which we’re guessing you do, since you’re reading this!), you’re probably constantly looking into how to be healthy and happy and trying to create healthy habits for life — after all, why wouldn’t you want to be your healthiest, calmest, and happiest self?
But let’s be totally honest here: something often stands in the way of making those healthy lifestyle changes, and even if you make a change, it often doesn’t stick, right? Don’t feel bad! It happens to everyone, including us. Making changes is really, really hard, especially when you are trying to change your daily habits. Yet, we know from research that making certain lifestyle changes can mean the difference between a life full of chronic health issues and premature death, and a long, happy life with little illness and little need for healthcare.
So, we dove into the research to understand what things prevent people from making healthy lifestyle changes, and what things actually work to make your goal of creating healthy habits for life a reality.
We discovered that if you have these five things, nothing can stop you.
The 5 Things You Need to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
1. Clarity on your goals and how you’ll achieve them
One of the biggest obstacles to achieving your goals is not being clear enough on what those goals are. It’s one thing to say you want to be healthier — it’s quite another to lay out exactly what healthier means to you and what you’ll do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to achieve it. With the latter, you have concrete action items broken up into smaller, more manageable pieces, which makes it so much less overwhelming to get started.
In one study, researchers took people who wanted to build better exercise habits and divided them into three groups: one group that simply tracked their exercise; one group that tracked their workouts and read information about the importance and benefits of exercise; and one group that tracked their workouts, read information about the benefits of exercise, and wrote out a plan of when, where, and how they would exercise each week. At the end of the study, 30-35% of those in the first two groups exercised at least once per week, compared to 91% of those in the third group. The takeaway is clear: by setting a concrete intention and writing it down, you’re more than twice as likely to achieve your goal.
In the WellBe Spark Health Program, we use this as a guiding principle to ensure that everyone in the program doesn’t just set goals — they achieve them, and build healthy habits for life. That means that each week, the group will not only set specific intentions about the healthy lifestyle changes they’ll make (let’s say cooking more for example), but also map out exactly what it will take to make those changes and gather all the necessary pieces to execute their plan. If someone wants to cook more but doesn’t have, say, enough pots or a reliable and consistent way to get groceries, it’s unlikely it will happen. By clarifying your motivation and goals, you’ll be able to chart a path to actually achieving those specific goals rather than just saying you want to “be healthy.”
2. Peer support and accountability
As we said, making change is hard. It’s even harder if you’re trying to do it alone. Going it alone means you lack not only support, but also accountability, which is huge. The fact that you have to tell someone that you didn’t do what you said you’d do makes it much harder to flake. In fact, the American Society of Training and Development found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone — and that number shoots up to 95% if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed to. That’s basically guaranteed goal achievement!!
In the Spark Health Program, we all check in with live (and recorded) weekly webinars (aka, “specific accountability appointments”). Plus, our member-only online forum, location- and interest-based group wellness challenges (things like becoming a meditator or kicking sugar), and the WellBe Concierge team all contribute to an enriching, vast community that will hold you accountable and provide support as you work toward making healthy lifestyle changes (and not that we needed evidence on this, but research shows that banding together toward common goals boosts your odds of success).
3. Unbiased advice
It’s not hard to find advice about what food you should eat or products you should use to be healthy — all you need to do is open up Instagram or visit one of the many thousands of wellness websites from media companies and influencers. The problem with this advice, however, is that it’s often driven not by your best interests, but by money. People will promote the health benefits of juicing to get you to buy a blender they’re being sponsored by, or tell you about all the miraculous effects of keto to sell a cookbook they wrote. On top of all that, there’s the lobbying of major industries like dairy, pharmaceuticals, and beef to deliberately skew or confuse your perception of what’s healthy. Wait, is low-fat yogurt better? Is fat good or bad?.
The point is, you don’t know what’s real and what’s just somebody trying to further an agenda (and make some cash). When confusion and overwhelm exist, it’s really hard to make healthy lifestyle changes because you can’t confidently create a plan. In order to take action and move toward your goals, you need clear, research-backed, non-sponsored advice on what products work and what trends are worth trying.
Doing that research is incredibly time-consuming, but it must come before you can make any changes — hence a big reason why people never get to the change-making part. That’s why we created the Spark Health program. We couldn’t figure out if influencers were actually using the products they were talking about or just being paid by the company to talk about it! We have spent countless hours (seriously, over a hundred hours) researching and vetting a HUGE range of products, using two (or sometimes three!) third-party rating organizations to verify the safety and non-toxic properties of each. Our totally unbiased, research-backed product database will save you an insane amount of time and effort so you can simply start making changes.
4. Not having to fight an uphill battle
If you routinely have symptoms like headaches, mucus, frequent colds or sinus infections, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, digestive issues, warts, toe fungus, aches and pains, extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, brain fog, cold sores, styes, acid reflux or heartburn, menstrual issues, infertility, mood swings, hair loss, skin rashes, acne and many more, there’s a good chance your body is fighting an internal issue. These symptoms are all your body’s cries for help to get your attention.
If your body is fighting an internal battle, it’s going to be hard to find the energy and motivation to achieve goals like getting in shape or giving up sugar. To get rid of these symptoms, it’s likely you’ll need a doctor or practitioner to help your body win the battle — aka get to the root cause of the issue and heal naturally.
Sites like Zocdoc help you search for healthcare providers based on location, specialty, and what insurance they take. But those sites don’t take into account things like health philosophy, or whether they care about addressing you as an individual and will consider your long-term health rather than just temporarily squashing your symptoms with drugs.
Whether you’re dealing with a health issue, or just want to see a doctor who will look at your whole body as one interconnected system and help you feel your best, it can feel like finding the right person is impossible. And once you find someone who you think might be right, it’s even more impossible to figure out whether they take your insurance, have availability, and have been successful helping others with your particular issue. The only option, it sometimes seems, is to just trial and error: going to a whole bunch of practitioners and hoping that eventually one is a good fit.
The fact is, you need more than 5-star reviews about the waiting room and bedside manner on the internet or the directory of covered providers from your insurance company’s website to make an accurate decision. That’s what the WellBe Healthcare Guidance and Navigation Service is for. The WellBe team of health coaches and patient advocates can the search for a healthcare practitioner, using our vast knowledge and network to find someone who will truly address your concerns and be on your side as you figure out how to be healthy and happy. You can choose to get this personalized healthcare concierge service as an add-on to Spark Health Program.
5. Motivation to get started and just take action
No matter how much planning you do, how much research you’ve looked through, how concrete your goals are, there comes a moment when you need to just do it. And what’s so beautiful but also paradoxical about just doing it is that — as many experts on self-help and personal development will attest — action can actually create motivation, not the other way around. Just by taking the first step, you fuel your motivation to take future steps.
Still, many people struggle when it comes to taking that first step. We built the Spark Health Program in such a way that it eliminates that struggle: in each of the hour-long weekly webinars, we’ll actually make most the changes we talk about, rather than creating a ton of extra homework for you to try to figure out on your own. We will end with concrete, specific action items for you to accomplish in the coming week, but the idea isn’t to burden you with a long list of to-do’s, it’s to take action in the moment so it’s done. It’s simple, clear, and totally doable — and by doing it, you’ll increase your odds of actually changing your future health outcomes by building healthy habits for life and achieving your short- and long-term health goals.
Conclusion: What You Need to Build Healthy Habits for Life
All of us want to know how to be healthy and happy. But for many of us, even those of us who have an intense desire to make healthy lifestyle changes, we get stuck when it comes to actually making the changes that will help us achieve our goals. It’s just part of being human.
Fortunately, by having a few key things in place, you can successfully build healthy habits for life. Specifically, the five things you need to make healthy lifestyle changes are:
- Clear goals, specific intentions and an executable plan
- Support and accountability from a community
- Unbiased recommendations on products, trends, and other health topics
- Trusted, knowledgeable recommendations for healthcare practitioners
- A kick in your butt to actually take the first step and get started
The WellBe Spark Health Program provides those five things to you in just an hour a week, taking away any obstacles that stand between you and healthy lifestyle changes. You already know how to be healthy and happy, but something is stopping you from doing it. Join us today to create healthy habits for life and become the healthiest, happiest, and most empowered version of yourself.