It’s the end of February and many of you started out the year with great intentions for a change in your life to find it was overwhelming and downright hard. Many of my clients want to become more fit and feel healthier by losing some extra pounds and begin an exercise program. Good objectives but often people will lose motivation because of unrealistic expectations.
So why do we want to a healthier lifestyle? One reason is being overweight increases the likelihood of developing potentially life-threatening diseases. Another is to improve mental health because many people who are overweight experience social shame and embarrassment about how they look. Also, losing weight and becoming more fit can decreased risk of joint problems in particular the knees.
If you are looking to make a lifestyle change, ask yourself a few important questions.
- Are you looking to change a specific behavior?
- Are you willing to make this behavioral change a top priority?
- Have you tried to change this behavior before?
- Do you believe there are inherent risks/dangers associated with not making this behavioral change?
- Are you committed to making this change, even though it may prove challenging?
- Do you have support for making this change from friends, family, and loved ones?
- Besides health reasons, do you have other reasons for wanting to change this behavior?
- Are you prepared to be patient with yourself if you encounter obstacles, barriers, and/or setbacks?
BJ Fogg, PhD with Stanford University, believes there are only three things that will change your behavior for the long term. Either you will have an epiphany, change your environment or take baby steps. He came up with a way to use baby steps to benefit you by creating tiny habits that will make great change in the long run.
Other ways to make behavioral change is by tracking what you are doing. A journal can help by just writing what you are doing daily. It can be what you are eating and drinking or how much you are moving. You can even monitor other things that may impede being more productive. Being aware is a powerful tool and can help you look for ways you to make the changes you desire.
Being mindful of what you are doing can also help with any change you may want. For example, in a healthy eating plan you can pay attention to why you are eating, how much, how often and where. Answering these questions can lead to insights and help you start the changing process.
Fear is another reason we sometimes cannot keep our commitments. We believe we cannot accomplish the task and give up before we get too far along the road to change. We all have fears but need not be controlled by them. Fear is normal but by taking control of your mindset you can move forward. We all need fears to stay safe and have good judgment. Fear is also complex. We have instinctive reactions from learned responses. Plus, your imagination feeds fear and can affect how you act.
Sometimes focusing on the benefits help with continual motivation. For example, modern scientific studies have confirmed what’s good for your body is good for your mind, and what’s good for your heart is good for your brain. A recent article in Psychology Today by well-known athlete and coach, Christopher Bergland stated, “Physical activity has also been proven to be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, insomnia, ADHD and a wide range of other psychological maladies. Exercise is medicine. In many cases, aerobic activity, strength training, yoga and mindfulness can be more effective than pharmaceutical treatments.”
So, go back and look at what you intended to accomplish this year and think how you can incorporate behavioral changes into your life to get the results you seek.
“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” - Abraham Maslow
Robin Anne Griffiths is a published author, certified master development coach, personal trainer and behavior change specialist. She works with groups and individuals on life transitions to create personal balance - physically and mentally. www.rechargemezone.com