Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes that Last - A New Look at New Years Resolutions
Would you run out of fingers, and maybe even toes, if you used them to count your tries at adopting a healthy lifestyle? Many of us would. The reason? Often it's that we need to change how we try to make changes. How we make the journey, not whether we always reach our exact goals, determines our success. And how we make the journey is really about our ability to support ourselves along the way, instead of falling back into judgmental and self-defeating ways of thinking and doing.
If you're thinking about making another run at a healthy lifestyle, consider these steps along the way.
Whether we're trying to start eating healthier or become more physically active, the first step is to be clear about our goals...and clear whether they are something we can achieve. For example, if you currently walk once a week, and you begin to strive for five, what's the chance you'll get there regularly? Immediately trying to fit four extra workouts into your busy week may leave you struggling. Instead, think about an initial goal of walking twice a week. Small increases --'baby steps' -- build on success. As you feel good about your ability to do one extra walk, you'll see your motivation ratchet up for another, 'til you reach that higher goal.
We're talking about energy and dedication to find healthy behaviors that work for you. Which of these statements sounds like you? "I'll try to walk twice a week," or "I'm committed to walking twice a week." It's much easier to shrug off the former promise to yourself. If it doesn't feel right to say you're committed to something, explore why. Is the goal you've set really right for you?
Give up 'shoulds'
A tangle of beliefs and thoughts about what we 'should' do or where we 'should' be with our fitness and health can threaten our ability to find what's right for us. Refuse to follow the latest and greatest new diet. Make peace with your body size, and buy a flattering outfit for that important event rather than trying to lose weight to fit into an old favorite. You may still be able to improve your fitness, but you don't have to put feeling good on hold until you do.
Does everyone around you have opinions about what's best for you? Exercise your right to make your own choices. That also means putting yourself first. If you don't make it a priority to care for yourself, you won't be at your best in caring for others either.
Build your self image as a winner by acknowledging and celebrating your small successes with ways that are meaningful to you. It's all about feeling good and keeping yourself going.
Whether it's remembering to eat lunch, or getting in that two-mile walk, add your new behaviors to your 'to do' list. When you check them off as done, you'll also give yourself an extra boost of satisfaction.
Support is one of the key predictors of success at lifestyle change. Buddy up with friends or family to accomplish your goals, read inspirational books or success stories. Join support groups, or seek the help of a qualified therapist or counselor if needed.
Remember: While it may seem to take a lot of work when we first start making healthy lifestyle changes, they become second nature after a while. So hang in there with your new positive behaviors. Soon, they'll just be the way you do things.
©2004 Green Mountain at Fox Run, Ludlow, Vermont.
Marsha J. Hudnall, MS, RD, CD is director of health communications and senior nutritionist at www.fitwoman.com">Green Mountain at Fox Run. For over 32 years, Green Mountain at Fox Run has developed and refined a life-changing program exclusively for women seeking permanent strategies from a healthy www.fitwoman.com/weightlossprogram.htm">weight loss program. weight loss progam. Based on a combination of proven science and what works in the real world, our innovative 'non-diet' lifestyle program offers an integrated curriculum of practical, liveable techniques that helps women take charge of their eating, their bodies and their health. Our approach is not focused on just losing weight but on how to keep it off for a lifetime. Our participants' long-term weight loss results are among the highest of any program, as documented in peer-reviewed scientific literature. Learn more about our fitness and healthy www.fitwoman.com/index.html">Weight Loss Spa