Some start this program because of a New Year’s Resolution…how many of you MADE resolution at the beginning of last year, or are waiting until this upcoming January 1st to get started?
Did you know that New Year’s resolutions are typically made for five consecutive years or more before long-lasting change is made? Pretty crazy right?! You know, when we’re talking about New Year’s Resolutions we are really talking about commitment; making a commitment to take responsibility for your health. So, if we make a commitment to change our unhealthy ways and we really want these changes to happen, then why do so many resolutions fail?
Is it a lack of willpower?
Or a lack of desire? The short answer is: No. The real reason lies in what we call “premature action.” Premature action is exactly what it sounds like. We take action to make changes before we have really prepared ourselves enough to be successful. For example, the New Year comes with an immense amount of pressure to take action; we are “supposed to change” and so we jump in with two feet whether we are ready or not. Full steam ahead! Then in a few weeks or even days, our motivations begin to wane. We begin to lose our focus and slip back into our old, unhealthy habits. So, we fail, which only reinforces our belief that we couldn’t really do it in the first place, that we are doomed to this existence as an overweight couch potato. It creates a vicious cycle.
So what hope is there? How can we overcome our own self-defeating beliefs and behaviors? How can we make a commitment and stick to it?! The answer lies in making the necessary preparations in order to be successful.
Step 1: Identify our reasons WHY
Basically, why do we want to make these changes? This is going to be our motivation. Many of you will be familiar with Dr. A’s Habits of Health when he discusses Conflict-Driven vs. Desired Outcome motivation. Are we using FEAR to motivate us…
Example: “I have to lose weight so I don’t get diagnosed with diabetes like my Mother” or “I have completely lost my self-disciple, I have to do this” or “I feel so horrible, things have to change”?
As you can see these motivators are based on our internal conflicts or fears. And these fears can just be rationalized away. So, our motivation doesn’t last.
Or are we using our DESIRES to motivate us?
Example: “I am taking responsibility for my health because it feels so good to get compliments from people and to accomplish my goals” or “I am eating healthier so that I become a better role model for my children” or “I am losing weight to feel better, gain confidence and have fun!” In other words, “I am doing this to gain health.”
What are your Desired Outcome Motivations? Write these down. Keep them handy. You will need to refer to these from time to time when your motivation is low. These positive motivators will strengthen your commitment to yourself.
Step 2: Identify the HOW
Basically, how are we going to make these changes? This is going to be our plan. Let’s face it, there are going to be challenges on the journey towards health. I’m sure many of you have probably faced these challenges before. How are we going to overcome these challenges this time? What we need to do here is identify what our challenges and challengers are and then develop strategies to get around them. Again, it is very important that you write these things down in order to constantly remind yourself. You are going to want to write down the People, Places, and Things that make up your biggest challenges.
Perhaps your spouse isn’t being particularly supportive of your new, healthy choices. Perhaps every time you drive down Main Street you pass your favorite bakery. Perhaps that television has a strong connection to snacking. Then these are the people, places, and things that are your challenges.
Develop a plan that tells you how you are going to deal with these situations or completely avoid them. This way when you come across a tough situation you have a plan of action and are not caught completely off-guard. This plan will help you strengthen your commitment.
Step 3: Identify the WHO
Basically, who is going to help us make these healthy changes? This is where the all-important health coach comes into the mix. You see, we make it as simple as possible to be successful, however that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We need help! We need our health coaches to guide us and teach us about health, we need our families to support us, we need our friends to encourage us, we need our coworkers to give us compliments, we need our health care providers to give us a pat on the back. Without the support we need, we will find it very difficult to be successful.
Again, you want to write down your support system. Put their names on a piece a paper with their phone number or email address so you can contact them if you need to. These are the people here to help you and to help strengthen your commitment.
Preparation is KEY
Many times we will fail to make the healthy changes we want to make in our lives because we jump into taking action before properly preparing ourselves. Therefore, in order to be successful, we need to identify our “why, how, and who” so that we can strengthen our commitment to our health. We need to identify our Desired Outcome Motivators, which is the why. We need to identify our Challenges and Strategies to overcome those challenges, which is the how. And finally, we need to identify our Helpers or Sources of Support, which is the who. With all of those things in place, we will have a much better chance to be successful.
In short, there is no time like the present to get started on a health program. Don’t let the illusion of the holidays cloud your judgement about putting your own health first. It’s the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season.