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Healthy habits in 2021: follow the four 'B's

Now that you have your goals, let's make them realistic and reachable. There are four steps that could get you where you want to be.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — If anxiety or apprehension is preventing you from achieving your goals in 2021, just remember the four 'B's.

Dr. Stephanie Pituc, a licensed psychologist with North Memorial Hospital, outlined them for us.

Start by breaking down your goal into concrete details.

"You want to make sure it's attainable; that you have the resources to be able to accomplish it," said Dr. Pituc.

Using exercise as an example, she said be specific about when you'll work out. "Okay I'm going to take my spin class. I'm going to do it Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I'm going to do it for at least 20 minutes. I can see whether I did it or not. It's measurable. Did I do it? If not, maybe I did 2 out of 3," explained Dr. Pituc.

The second 'B' is bundle up. Connect your new habit to an existing one; something as automatic as brewing coffee.

"A lot of times we think, 'oh, 20 minutes to sit and meditate or breathe, I don't have time for that.' I say that's not realistic. Let's tether it to something you're already doing," said Dr. Pituc.

She explained, "While you're waiting for your coffee to brew, take the time to take some deep breaths, to maybe go to your happy place, stretch, whatever it is." 

'B' number three is buddy up. Research shows that people are more likely to complete their goals when they have social support.

"Sometimes you're someone who needs a cheerleader. Other people need a buddy that's like a work out partner, just someone who is on a journey with them," said Dr. Pituc.

The fourth 'B' is anticipate your barriers.

Consider this scenario: "I want to implement a regular workout. What are my barriers? Well, I have a toddler who sometimes gets up at 5 o'clock in the morning. [It's] 5:30 in the morning and all of a sudden my plan to exercise at 5:30 is foiled. Well, okay what's my backup plan. What's my plan B?" Dr. Pituc questioned.

If interruptions aren't holding you back, it could be preparedness. "With exercising, a common recommendation is put your exercise clothes out. Pick them out, put them out on your bed or go to bed wearing your workout clothes. That's something that sometimes people find helpful because that's just one less barrier for you to get up and get moving," suggested Dr. Pituc.

And here are two bonus 'B's for you.

Believe in yourself and be kind. Just know that this is all a learning process. 

"We tend to say, 'If I fall through with this habit, then I’m a failure or I must not be strong enough.' When really, maybe it’s just your life situation and how things are set up [that's] not creating the conditions for an automatic behavior to form." said Dr. Pituc.

And even when you struggle, the doctor says there's a lesson in whatever your struggle was. "Anytime we try something new, it’s a risk. It requires some bravery, courage. It’s about changing old habits and leaning into things that are new and unknown."

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