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New habits can be like worn-down Velcro. So stinking hard to stick to.

You likely already have a core group of habits you do day in and day out: the time you get up, the foods you eat, the same route you take to the store/gym/work, the Facebook friends you choose to ignore, and on and on.

The truth is, your body works efficiently when it’s on autopilot: Do something without thinking much about it, and it’ll almost seem like you didn’t even have to work at it at all. Wouldn’t that be nice if new healthy habits felt that way?

Say you want to start a new exercise program or commit to drinking less soda or promise that you’ll (finally!) work on those tighter-than-steel hamstrings of yours with that new yoga app you’ve been wanting to try.

It’s one thing to think it. It’s one thing to wish it.

It’s quite another thing to do it.

And that aspect—the let’s-get-this-party-started part—isn’t as easy as it seems. That’s because you can’t live on autopilot until you spend a little time in the cockpit figuring out how to takeoff.

While everybody is different, it typically takes about three or four weeks before a behavior morphs into more of a subconscious habit, says Timothy J. Nobles, D.O., GCM Physician. But when put together, those small habits are the very things that can lead to positive change in your body and your health.

No matter your plans or ideas for healthier living, follow these guidelines for ending 2024 with the goals that you started with.

Whittle it Down. If you choose too many goals or plan too many changes, you could fail to follow-through, which is what leads to self-doubt and giving up on your goals. “Start by managing small changes, and it’ll help reduce your perceived effort and make it more sustainable,” Dr. Nobles says. So instead of making monster-size resolutions, try to incorporate one change in habit. A few weeks later, add another, and so on. Your GCM physician can help you set goals and develop a plan that can serve as a roadmap to get you off on the right step—and steer you on the right direction.

Choose Specific Actions. Instead of making “lose weight” your mantra, try saying you want to walk 20 minutes every morning. Instead of “eat better,” try limiting your processed foods as much as possible. Instead of “straighter posture,” decide to stand tall as part of your morning routine. Focus on the behavior, not the result—and that’s what will lead you to your goals.

Track It. Many people find that tracking their progress is also motivating, so try journaling your data as a reminder of all the good work you have put in. You can use a variety of apps, create your own spreadsheet, or go with the traditional pencil-and-paper way. The point is that the tracking can help you stick to the plan as you can see all that you’ve accomplished—especially when faced with obstacles or hiccups that can frustrate you. We know one member who set up a spreadsheet for 2024 with 19 different health/fitness/diet categories he’s tracking for the year—everything from workouts to steps walked to hydration. While it doesn’t quite fit the “start small” suggestion, he told us that the reason why he likes this method is because logging accomplishments daily keeps him accountable—and that it allows him to focus more on the process and less on “oh my gosh, will I hit my goal?”

Add the People Factor. Having people you’re accountable to will help push you in the earlier, harder days of habit formation. Tell close friends or family members about your plan and ask them to check in to see how you’re doing. Better yet, create some things you can do together. This could come in the form of daily walks or some kind of challenge that you can lean on other people for support and motivation. Dry January (giving up all alcohol for a month) is a popular examples, but you can use that same kind of approach no matter what you want to work on (“how about we limit ourselves to four desserts total this month?”).

Get Inspired. We love the idea of learning as much about your health and behaviors as you can, and one of the best books on the subject of behavioral change is Atomic Habits by James Clear. You’ve probably heard of the book and one of its central themes—that tiny changes over time add up to big wins. Many of our members have read or listened to the book, and they speak about the strong messages and inspiration that have come out of doing so.

Incorporate GCM. While you may set up goals and steps in your personal life, you can also include us in on both the game-planning and using a variety of metrics and tactics to help you achieve your goals. Some examples:

  • As a way to track and measure your metabolic health, you could use a continuous glucose monitor or stop into the clinic and use our InBody to measure body composition (and see how your weight, muscle mass, body fat percentage, and more change over time as you incorporate new habits).
  • Based on your InBody and continuous glucose monitor results, we can incorporate more frequent lab work to monitor progress and help achieve your goals.
  • We can provide advice on exercise and diet customized to your lifestyle, preferences, medical history, and more. Did you know that GCM is recruiting for a full-time dietitian to offer more targeted dietary advice? We are excited to add this service sometime in 2024.
  • We can suggest supplements that may aid you in specific areas of your health.

Eyes Ahead, Not Backwards. So what if you miss a day? Don’t let that derail you. Too many people get impatient when they get off track or if they don’t see enough progress. But instead of “game over,” think of it as a bump in the road. The victories—and small defeats—are all steppingstones on your journey. Soon, with enough success, your new habits will be as automatic as that marvelous mug of java you may be sipping on right now.

2420 West Mississippi Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33629 Telephone: (813) 350-9090 Fax: (833) 941-2649