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5 Doctor-Approved Tips for Creating Lifelong Healthy Habits

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From eating smaller, more frequent meals to moving like a kid, these tips will help you lead a healthier lifestyle.

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Before bidding the twenty-tens goodbye, chances are you drafted a list of New Year’s resolutions that included exercising regularly and eating more healthfully. Now, with the new decade in full swing, there’s a good chance that you’ve abandoned those well-intentioned to-do’s. In fact, so many people default on their resolutions by mid-January that January 17 has been deemed “Ditch Your Resolution Day.” The good news is there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just that by setting goals that are too lofty and broad, you tend to set yourself up for failure. What some in the medical community have found to be far more successful is making small tweaks to your daily routine that ultimately lead to lifelong healthy habits. Here, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, independent OPTAVIA Coach and author of Dr. A’s Habits of Health, and several women whose lives were transformed after joining OPTAVIA, the health and wellness program Dr. A co-founded, share their top tips for helping to obtain—and maintain—a healthy lifestyle.

Tip #1: Seek Out Support

Your wellness journey has no room for naysayers. Surrounding yourself with people who support and encourage you to stick with your goals is key, whether that be friends, co-workers, your spouse, or your spin instructor. Find a workout buddy for those mornings when you could go to the gym but would much rather press the snooze button or a meal-prep buddy to keep you cooking instead of ordering greasy takeout. The OPTAVIA community propelled Jen Jones to turn her life around. “My Coach, combined with a like-minded community, helped me learn and grow,” she says. “It was the number-one factor in my success and propelled me to optimal health.”

Mini Meals

Tip #2: Eat Mini-Meals Throughout the Day
Eating small meals about every three hours keeps your metabolism active, so you never get hangry. For Jessica Marulanda, whose life was transformed by OPTAVIA, eating on a schedule had the greatest impact. “It keeps my eyes from becoming bigger than my stomach at meal times, so I’m satisfied with smaller portions,” she says. A favorite mini-meal? Lettuce wraps with shredded BBQ chicken, which Marulanda cooks in a crockpot—easy and filling!

Tip #3: Move Like No One’s Judging You

Keep exercise from feeling like a chore and rediscover how much fun everyday activities like dancing, jumping rope, and doing yardwork can be as an adult. Stay-at-home mom Carly Bleiler has taken this advice to heart. Before OPTAVIA, Bleiler admits to having many unhealthy habits, including “fast food, soda, candy almost daily, and zero motion!” Now, she plays tennis and catch with her three kids “without losing my breath” as well as goes on bike rides and power walks with them at the local park. “Since changing my eating and exercise habits, I have gained so much energy,” she says, adding, “It has also been great getting my children out of the house and being active together.”

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Tip #4: Prioritize Your Passions

Organizing your life around what’s most important can help mitigate stress and frustration, two emotions often tied to emotional eating. When she joined OPTAVIA in 2013, new mom and therapist Emily Yáñez de Flores didn’t think of herself as an emotional eater. “It only took one week on the program to realize how much I was turning to food. With any discomfort I faced, I immediately wanted to eat,” she says. In the past, she had tried just about every fad diet. “But they didn't teach me anything about health, how food affects my body, how to know instinctively what my body needs, how to come up with coping skills that aren't food-related, and, most important, what to do once the ‘diet’ was over.” Yáñez de Flores’ success with the program allowed her to switch gears with her career, becoming an independent OPTAVIA Coach and combining her new-found passion for health and wellness with her experience as a therapist. “It’s amazing to feel like I’m making a huge impact on people’s lives using this program,” she says. "If you’re looking for something to not only address weight, but more importantly, stress, sleep, mental wellness, and self-care, OPTAVIA is for you."

Tip #5: Embrace Your Internal Body Clock 

Paying attention to your chronotype, essentially whether you’re the kind of person who attends an early morning yoga class or sleeps in until brunch rolls around, is an important step in developing your best sleep habits, which are key to your overall health. Once you’ve cracked this code, use the information to help establish a routine for winding down at night. “The right amount of high-quality sleep plays an essential role in our health and well-being,” says Dr. A. “Without it, the rest of the picture of health cracks and fades, but with it, the energy of life is yours to spend as you wish.”

These four women are now leading healthier lives thanks to OPTAVIA*.

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OPTAVIA’s approach is radically different. With the support of a Coach who has likely been through a similar journey and thousands of other like-minded people on the same path, you can transform your life. To learn more about the program, go to getstartedwithoptavia.com.  

*Average weight loss on the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan is 12 pounds. Clients are in weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks.