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Making Change a Reality

by Verna Lukehart, RN, RDN

 

Have you ever been really motivated to make a new health goal, but it does not go as planned?

  • “I’m going to train for a marathon!” but it did not quite happen…
  • “I’m going to lose weight!” but by week 3, you do not feel as motivated…
  • “I’m going to go to the gym for an hour 4 days/week!” but by the second week you are not getting there…

You had great intentions and you really wanted to do it! You just did not have the will power, enough motivation, or time?

So, what if it is not about will power, motivation, or time? What if it is more about the HOW of making lasting changes?

Okay, so how do we implement changes in our daily life and make it stick?

If you have an important health goal that you want to reach, here are 3 Pro Tips in behavior change to help you on your journey:

  1. SET THE BAR LOW! Yes, you read that correctly. Set the bar LOW. When we set a new goal, it is easy to think big and set the bar too high. We start out highly motivated and feel like we can conquer anything. It is great to start with a high level of motivation, but what happens when we feel like our goal is slipping away? If you keep your goal small, it does not require a constant level of high motivation to continue. In “Feel Better in 5,” Dr. Rangan Chatterjee discusses how small changes can produce lasting results. He suggests it takes just 5 minutes a day to start a new behavior. When you set the bar low you are more likely to accomplish your goal and keep going despite the ups and downs of motivation. You feel successful and this creates positive emotions that encourage you to continue. What happens next Dr. Chatterjee calls the “Trickle Effect.” You feel positive and successful with the one change that it impacts other areas of your life. Maybe you start with just 5 minutes of body resistance exercises. When you keep going, this makes you feel stronger and you start eating healthy foods. You feel so energized with 5 minutes that you increase to 15 minutes. What started as a small step, grows and overflows into other areas of your life and multiplies that feeling of success!
  2. ATTACH YOUR NEW BEHAVIOR WITH SOMETHING YOU DO EVERYDAY! This is one of my favorite pieces of advice because it really works! There are certain things we do every day like brushing our teeth, making coffee in the morning, arriving home from work, or maybe walking the dog. While you are making coffee, could you do 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises and meditation or some resistance bands? When you get home from work, right after you change into your comfy clothes, could you do 20 squats and 10 push-ups? After you brush your teeth at night, could you write in your gratitude journal for 5 minutes? If you combine a new habit with an established one, you are more likely to remember to do it.
  3. MAKE IT FUN! If you are trying to eat healthier, but do not like the food you are eating, it will be hard to continue. You should try to find something you enjoy. If it is food it has to be tasty for you. Work with the dietitians at Pounds to explore different food options. If it is a new exercise, you do not want it to be so difficult that you hate it. You want to find something as fun as possible. Workout to upbeat music or perhaps walk on the treadmill to your favorite tv show. One of our clients streams a Youtube Zumba class that he does with his wife and young kids - now that’s fun!

 

Book Recommendations

  1. BJ Fogg- Tiny Habits
  2. James Clear- Atomic Habits
  3. Dr. Rangan Chatterjee- Feel Better in 5

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