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Living healthy is not something you can just do for a couple of days and get it over with. It has to be a permanent lifestyle change and something that you must integrate deeply in your everyday life if you want to see lasting results. It’s about breaking your bad habits and building good ones. This is something that will take a lot of time, especially if you’re already used to living in an unhealthy way. But if you don’t want to significantly shorten your life expectancy, this is something you absolutely have to do.

Here are six tips to change your lifestyle to promote better health:

1. Set a Goal

First, you have to figure out what your goals are. Do you want to lose weight? Get stronger? Improve your endurance? All of those things can be addressed in different ways. You should ideally focus on just one at a time, at least in the beginning. Once you’ve gained some momentum, you might be able to balance working on two or more goals. But in any case, make sure that your goal is clear and that you have a well-defined plan for achieving it.

2. Figure Out Your Current Situation

You should also take a hard look at your current state of affairs and figure out how much work you have ahead of you. This is something that some people find difficult because it requires you to be realistic and honest with yourself — and that’s something that definitely not everyone is capable of. But as long as you’re willing to look in the mirror and face the reality of your current situation, you’re already in a better place than most people with health problems.

3. Small Steps

Be patient. This is something that will take a long time and it’s not the kind of change you can expect to see overnight. Be prepared to go through some difficult periods where you’re not making much progress. This will be the true challenge for most people. Overcoming those situations is going to be a true test of your persistence, but as long as you keep your eye on the prize, you’ll be able to push through and enjoy the benefits later. Make sure that you don’t overstrain yourself because this can have negative implications. You can burn out quickly if you’re still not used to working out that much.

4. Measure Your Progress

Another important point to keep in mind is to measure your progress at every step. This is going to be important both in the short and the long term. It will give you a clear perspective of how well you’re doing and it will also help you correct most of your mistakes along the way. This is just as important as being persistent in the first place. No matter how motivated you may be, if you’re not seeing any results, this can quickly sap your confidence and your desire to push any further. By tracking your progress, you will ensure that you are always on the right track and that your efforts are being rewarded.

5. Do You Need Advanced Tools?

Sooner or later you’re going to start eyeing some more advanced equipment, especially if you have more specialized goals that require heavy duty tools to reach. Keeping your health fit with cardio equipment is never a bad option, and it’s a good place to start if you want something that’s widely available on the market and relatively affordable. But whenever you decide to invest in any new machines, make sure that you have a clearly defined purpose for them. Don’t just haphazardly buy devices that you never end up using. This is a common mistake among beginners with more money than sense.

6. Making Sure the Changes Stick

As we mentioned earlier, these are the kinds of changes that you have to ensure will stay permanently. Once you’ve broken the bad habits and built the good ones, you have to keep pressing to ensure that you don’t slip up. It’s easier than you might think to fall off the wagon, especially if you’re already used to an unhealthy lifestyle from before. You will need to dig into your head for this one — figure out why you’re so inclined to make those unhealthy decisions and take actions to correct them.

With time, you’re going to start seeing the fruits of your labor. That’s the best part. It can also be a very strong motivator to keep pushing forward. Make sure that you never slip up though, and if you do, correct your course as soon as possible. As long as you’re keeping track of everything you’re doing and know where you’re headed, you should be able to bring your body in shape sooner or later. And from there, it’s all a matter of maintaining your momentum.