Wellness: Lifestyle Change
By Nancy Merrifield RN, URMP, CPC
The American Psychological Association's new poll suggests that to achieve positive, healthy lifestyle and behavioral change, to achieve wellness, it is important to do realistic goal setting, change only one behavior at a time, and invite family, friends or co-workers to join you for support. Lifestyle change is a challenge. Too often we make the decision to make a positive change in our eating patterns, exercise plan or stop a bad habit, and we immediately want to see the results. We are so motivated we want to see those pounds dropping, stamina picking up and bad habits turning into good habits,instantaneously. We push ourselves past our limits and then give-up, feeling like a failure. We are not failures. Truth is, lifestyle change should be evolutionary not revolutionary. We need to learn patience as we work on changing one thing at a time.
Evolution is the gradual development of something into a better form. It is the celebration of a thousand successes, not just one. It is accepting the little slips here and there, knowing, they are all just part of that giant step forward.
Creating a realistic plan and setting reasonable goals takes a bit of engineering. If you want to lose 15 pounds, break that down into three to five goals. Celebrating every three pound loss is a great motivator. It allows for more successes and for the feeling, "I can do this," which is important to long-term success. Map out exactly how you plan to achieve your goals. What days each week you will exercise, what activity you will be doing on what day. Things like drinking more water with exercise and between meals should also put into the plan. Once the plan is written, ask yourself if you are confident that these activities and goals are realistic for you. If not, start with smaller steps.
Changing one behavior at a time is all about being patient. Allow the evolvement of your unhealthy behaviors into healthy behaviors to develop over time. If you make a lot of changes too quickly you could end up with a string of struggles rather than a series of successes. Focus on one goal or change, then as new healthy behaviors become habit, add another goal that works toward the overall change you’re striving for.
The support of family, freinds or co-workers boosts the success rate in people working toward lifestyle change. People with similar goals tend to be supportive and motivate each other. Consider inviting one or more friends or co-workers for this journey or enlist family members. Some enjoy support groups. If you are more of a loner, working out in a gym might help. The environment itself is motivating and people come to expect to see you there but without commitment. You do not need to socialize, however, sharing your struggles and successes helps you to celebrate. It also helps those you are sharing with.
The decision to make healthy lifestyle change is a big commitment. It requires planning, focus and tenacity. Knowing, “I can do this” is really important. Think about all of your past successes, both big and small, and give yourself a pat on the back. Remember what it felt like to be successful in the past and know that you are doing it again. Of course you will slip occasionally. I have come to believe that slipping is just part of the overall picture. So accept it and walk through it. If you feel overwhelmed or have been unsuccessful in setting reasonable goals and achieving them in the past, consider working with a Life Coach. See discounts. Together we can totally do this! Contact me for a free consult.
The American Psychology Association: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/lifestyle- behavior.aspx, 7/24/2011