You aren’t alone. Not only is forming new habits as we age very difficult, but what might be even harder is breaking old habits that maybe once served you in former years but are no longer contributing to how you want to feel today. Before we discuss some good habits to form in your 30s and 40s, let’s first dive into the importance of creating a “why” for these new habits and how to level up your motivation.
My guess is you are reading this because you want to make a change, but wanting to do something is very different from actually doing it, and it all starts with setting an intention (your “why”). Having a specific goal is great! Think of your goal as the big picture story. Now, what’s more important is thinking about WHY you have created this goal for yourself. The intention behind this goal will be your daily motivation to stay consistent with your actions and keep you progressing toward routine habits that get you one step closer to the big picture story.
Now, let’s level up that daily motivation. Let’s say we have a goal of losing weight. That’s great! You have identified something you want to do, but if you constantly just tell yourself you are making all these changes in your life to lose weight, it’s going to quickly become very overwhelming.
So, let’s ask ourselves, “why do I want to lose weight?” Maybe to reverse a current medical diagnosis? Maybe to prevent future disease and illness? Maybe so that you can run around and play with your children now and grandchildren in the future? Maybe to feel more confident in your clothes? Maybe to have more energy? Each of these reasons behind your goal of weight loss will keep you excited about the big picture and help to keep you motivated and consistent with your new daily habits!
So you have set your goal and your “why” behind it, but you aren’t really sure what habits to form to help get you there? Below you can find some good starting points.
1. Put the nightly glass of wine down.
Let’s be real, that evening chardonnay or vodka martini habit isn’t really helping you wind down. Sure it might provide instant gratification by giving you a sense of peace and calm after a rowdy day, but at the end of the day, alcohol is impairing your overall metabolic health. It’s causing inflammation in the body. It’s preventing you from sleeping soundly and deeply throughout the night. And it’s shutting down your prefrontal cortex, making it harder for you to keep up with healthy food choices not only that evening but the next day as well. For most, alcohol actually drops your blood sugar, eventually leading to sugar and carb cravings later in the evening and/or the next morning.
Now, I am not just going to tell you to ditch the booze forever, that would just be mean and super unrealistic. But what if you chose 1-2 nights per week to enjoy a couple of drinks of your choice instead of 1-2 drinks every single night of the week? What if you replaced your evening “wind-down” drink with a fun mocktail, herbal berry tea, a walk with your partner, or a sparkling beverage in a wine glass?
2. Get your protein and strength training on.
Your bone health really matters! As we inch closer to our 40s, we start to lose bone mass at a more rapid rate. What goes into your belly and what you pick up in the gym can be two hugely preventative factors when it comes to reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis and keeping your bones strong and healthy.
When it comes to diet, start to really get in the habit of prioritizing lean, quality protein at each meal and ensure you are getting adequate calcium from real, whole foods.
Some examples of lean, quality protein include grass-fed ground beef, organic pasture-raised turkey and chicken, wild-caught salmon and shrimp.
If you want to double up on protein and calcium at the same time, start to sprinkle in some organic chicken or beef bone broth throughout the week. You can sip on it or even cook your grains/pasta in it!
Some examples of calcium-supportive foods include bone broth, dairy (such as milk, yogurt, and cheese), canned sardines and salmon, cooked dark leafy greens (such as collards, kale, and spinach), and calcium-fortified (meaning calcium has been added in) foods such as some orange juices and nut milks.
While protein and calcium are important, don’t write off the fact that other vitamins and minerals also play a key role in bone health such as Vitamin D, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Potassium.
Nutrition is the real key player here, but lifestyle behaviors matter too! Adding in some strength and resistance training (as long as it’s practiced safely) can help not only build muscle, strengthen bones and improve metabolic rate, but paired with adequate protein intake it’s been proven beneficial to protect and maintain what you already have!
3. Place yourself around like-minded people with similar goals.
It’s so important to find a supportive community. If you are constantly around others who are cheering you on, you will be much more likely to stick to your new healthy habits and have success with reaching your goals. Plus, a little extra accountability (both self-accountability and from others) helps us to stay motivated and committed!
4. Get in those plant points!
Keep your gut happy and healthy and bowel movements regular by aiming for 6-9 cups of produce (fruits and veggies) per day. An easy way to work towards this habit is by filling ½ of your plate or bowl with non-starchy veggies and leafy greens at each meal. A variety of colors is also very beneficial for providing the body with an abundance of bioavailable nutrients.
5. Instead of a mid-year vacation, give yourself a mid-day vacation.
You read that right! Instead of only allowing yourself to relax for 1 week out of the year, only to come home feeling like you need a vacation from the vacation, why don’t you start giving yourself a 5- to 15-minute mid-day vacation every single day? Think of it as a screen-free microbreak away from your daily responsibilities to just breathe. To reflect. To just be. Would you feel energized and be able to bounce back more quickly for the 2nd part of your day? More productive? More empowered? Add in some sunshine for a hit of vitamin D and you will be golden!
6. Manage your stress like a boss.
It’s 2022. Stress is all around us and unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere. Instead of focusing on how to eliminate it or using coping mechanisms to pacify it, what if you put the effort into stress management techniques to help you feel more resilient and support a stronger you. Some proven ways to manage stress include getting some extra fresh air and sunshine, doing something fun and joyful with a community of people you enjoy being around, meditating or journaling, going for walks in a park or garden or forest, boosting your body with nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium, mineral salt, and potassium, laughing, and giving yourself permission to rest when you need it.
7. Don’t skip breakfast, no matter how busy you are.
It’s true what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! You wouldn’t go on a road trip without gassing up your car, would you? You wouldn’t leave the house without feeding your kids or your pets first, would you? Same goes for you! Take care of your body. Respect your body. Eating a well-balanced breakfast helps to set you up with energy all morning long, keeps your blood sugar controlled, and prevents you from crashing and craving later in the day.
Age ain’t nothin’ but a number if you start taking care of yourself today! Don’t wait until it’s too late. Think about a big picture goal for your 30s and 40s. Create your “why” behind wanting to feel and live this way to keep you motivated and on task. If you are having a hard time finding a starting place, pick just one or two of the habits above and experiment with them for a week or two. How do you feel?