Keys to Success
Making Good Habits for Life

Achieving a healthy weight is a process not a one off event. Likewise, making changes to long standing habits is also a process.

Before you can start changing any habits it is important to know which habits you want to change and what you want to change them to. Once you decide on this you can start taking the actions that will get you there.

Decisions about which habits you want to change as well as the timing and pace of change are YOURS to make. Only you can decide when you are ready to change and at which pace you are able to make the changes.
In broad terms there are four stages in making change:

  1. Preparation
  2. Setting Goals
  3. Getting Started
  4. Keeping it Going (Maintaining Motivation)


Change begins with reflection on ourselves and our habits.

Start by looking at your positive AND negative habits with regard to your level of physical activity, eating, physical health and motivation. Then identify the important areas where you have good habits AND the important areas where you have poor habits (unimportant things can be overlooked for the time being).

Then focus your attention on the poor habits and decide on which ones you would like to improve.

(It goes without saying that you can’t let your existing good habits slip in the attempt to improve current poor habits)


Once you have decided on the habits to improve, you will need to set some goals which will define exactly what you would like to achieve. These goals should be really important to you and something that you can be passionate about.

They should also be SMART:-

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time bound

Try to focus on positive actions rather than negative actions e.g. set your goal as “eat fruit for dessert” rather than setting your goal as “don’t eat cake for dessert”, otherwise your focus is drawn away from what you are specifically aiming to achieve.

For major long term goals it is a good idea to break them down into "bite-sized" pieces which you can achieve in a reasonable time frame (even setting yourself goals for a single day is OK). This approach will make the long term goal more manageable and you can enjoy the process of achieving the short-term “bite-sized” goals and celebrating accordingly.

Download a "Changing Habits and Setting Goals - Personal Action Plan"


Once you have set your goals the obvious next step is to GET STARTED!! It is often tempting to find reasons to postpone your starting date, but no matter when you start there are going to be times that challenge your resolve eg birthday parties, holidays, etc. Waiting for a time that is "convenient" may never come or you will have that much further to go to get back to your healthy weight goal.

Set a time and place and start NOW. It doesn’t matter how small the first step, it is one step closer to what you want to achieve.

KEEPING IT GOING - Maintaining Motivation

Once you are on your way you need to remain positive, motivated and focused on achieving one small goal at a time. Keep reminders of what is motivating to you in places that you will see regularly, eg the fridge.
Reward yourself after each goal is achieved, and take time to reflect back on how far you have come to reach this point.

Examples of non-food rewards include:-

  • A facial or pedicure
  • New clothes (or old ones you haven’t been able to wear for a while)
  • A weekend away with a loved one
  • A movie or a massage

Invariably you will have set backs and some habits will be harder to change than you first anticipated but if you do “fall off the wagon” don’t give up and throw away all the things that you have achieved, you should:

  • Take stock and congratulate yourself for the things that you have achieved
  • Stop yourself from focusing only on the things that you haven’t yet been able to achieve or maintain
  • Set some new short term goals that will help you get back on track
  • Ask your family and friends for some encouragement and support
  • Take the first step towards achieving the new short term goal

5 strategies to help you stay motivated

1. Set yourself a challenge
  • plan to take part in a physical activity such as a fun run, a hike or a cycling trip and train towards it.
2. Use the buddy system
  • make a commitment to exercise with someone; it keeps you accountable and you’ll also have someone to chat with and share the journey, which can help make exercise much more enjoyable.
3. Include variety in your routine
  • Keep your exercise routine fresh - add variety by changing the scenery, the time of day, the duration, intensity and frequency of your walks, or even carry a back pack to burn extra kilojoules. You can also add different and new activities at least once or twice a week, such as golf, strength training, swimming, gardening and yoga.
4. Use technology
  • devices such as a pedometer or portable music players (walkman, radio or mp3 player) can make exercise more enjoyable. Listening to music is proven to help you exercise for longer
5. Reward yourself
  • helps to reinforce your healthy behaviour, and gives you something tangible to aim for. Make sure you use non-food related rewards that don't undo all your hard work, such as a massage, book or item of clothing. You can even choose rewards that bring you closer to your goal, such as a new pair of walking shoes, or a personal training session.