Funny the way a “healthy living challenge” is a concept so often cast off to the end of the calendar year. There’s something about that January 1st “clean start” that is so appealing…and so permissive of slacking until the new year rolls around.

And what do we all know about those lofty, procrastinated goals? Most people don’t get even two weeks in before hanging up their gloves. Nearly 55% of New Year’s resolutions are health-related, and 80% of those who set them don’t follow through on them.

Part of the problem lies in the way goals are set — and why they are set in the first place. Crash courses and quick fixes are just as quick to fizzle.

But healthy living challenges us from the inside out…day in…day out. It’s about steadiness, consistency, and a mindset of staying the course for the right reasons.

You may know that your life needs an overhaul. Perhaps you have used food and alcohol as an antidote to stress. Perhaps you work so much that your only exercise is falling into bed for five hours of sleep at night. Perhaps you don’t have a support system and don’t feel the motivation to do anything good for yourself.

Perhaps you’re just not ready to show up at the gym at 5AM five days a week for its 3-month, $10,000 fitness challenge.

The good news is that you can create your own healthy living challenge, and you don’t need to wait for a new year to take the plunge. You can learn new habits, make daily changes, and have all the support you need for sustainable success.

The first step involves some introspection and fearless self-honesty. Why do you want to create a healthy living challenge? Why is this healthy change important to you? Common sense stuff at quick glance, but not really so easy when you start examining how you value (or don’t value) your own life.

In the SprintSet system, we talk about embracing the challenge of getting to your best health and weight. No healthy living challenge can succeed if you are at odds with your own goals and the plan to achieve them. When you embrace the challenge, you essentially become one with the changes you are making for a healthier life.

When you both identify and embrace the challenge, you pledge your intent to live a better life. You set your mind and heart in the right direction, and thereby open yourself to the right energy and opportunities from the Universe.

Even if you’re not ready to start training for your bucket-list marathon, it’s still important to have a support system that can provide support and guidance. There is powerful energy in camaraderie. An online community can provide both education and support for your healthy living challenge, even though yours is customized just for you.

Once you have made the commitment to your best health and weight and have shared your intention with a support system, you have a lot of options. Your fundamental goals will be to learn how to properly nourish your body, to renew your thinking about food, and to add sustainable movement to your life.

Here are some ideas for improving your health, not just for a couple weeks in January, but for the rest of your life.

  • Eat mindfully. Put down your phone, chew slowly, think about the food that has been provided for you, and be present.
  • Move! If all you do is start walking more, you will welcome in a multitude of health benefits.
  • Make simple, healthful food swaps. There is beauty in simplicity. You don’t have to change everything in a day. Find a few nutritious items from each food category that you will enjoy having on-hand, and get used to using them to replace your old “poor eating” choices.
  • Add resistance training. Even a 20-30-minute circuit 2-3 times a week can give your heart a boost, help maintain bone density and build fat-burning muscle.
  • Stretch. Open up your joint spaces, elongate your muscles and connective tissue, and give the cells of your body a much needed, oxygenating “aahhh”!
  • Hydrate! Get into the habit of drinking 16 oz. of water first thing in the morning and drinking at least 8 oz. before eating anything throughout the day. You’ll be amazed at how water curbs your appetite and your cravings for things you shouldn’t eat. And that’s just one of countless health benefits of water.

Aim for half your body weight in ounces every day during your healthy living challenge. Your body will thank you!

  • Get enough sleep. Start designating and honoring your sleep time. Sleep isn’t called “nature’s nurse” for nothing.
  • Get a massage. Thank your body for all it does for you by gifting it with the restorative benefits of massage.
  • Keep a Healthy Living Challenge Journal. The routine and discipline of documenting your food intake and activities are therapeutic and reinforcing. They are also a great exercise in delayed gratification. It won’t be long before you look back and realize how much you have accomplished.

No matter what your health and weight goals are, you deserve a healthy living challenge that aligns with who you are and directs you toward your best self. Once you commit to yourself, you will find the Universe opening its abundance to you.