Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The most important (and overlooked) componenet of a healthy lifestyle....

The term “healthy lifestyle” brings to mind 2 things: physical activity {exercise} and nutrition. No doubt, both of these are game changers - not just in weight management or weight loss but in heart, bone and joint health.

However, the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle, is a third, often overlooked element. It’s BEHAVIOR. It’s the small, daily habits and behaviors that make the biggest difference. No one double cheeseburger ever made anyone fat, just like running one 5K never made anyone skinny.

It's seems simple in theory, right? Identify the bad behavior, adopt the good behavior. BOOM! You should be good.

Reality check time: We will undoubtedly fail many times on our quest for a behavior change – it’s common and it’s important to not beat yourself up over it. 

By nature, people are social creatures. Eating & physical activity habits are influenced by the environment in which live and work. How much support are we getting from our friends and family? When stress hits do we go for the sweet roll or the spin class? Do we live in the city or the suburbs?

These all impact our behavior and need to be considered when creating a new behavior. 

1. Put in a bulk order for Post-It Notes. Phrases like “You’re Amazing” “Never Give Up” “Enjoy Your Life” can lift your mood and remind you that you have the power to make your own choices. Post them on your computer, your steering wheel, your refrigerator and your mirror. I do.

2. Eliminate temptation. Healthy people don’t eat better because they have more willpower. They recognize their weaknesses and keep them out of the pantry. Make it hard to stumble and you’re less likely to fall.

3. Start dating. Friends giving you a hard time about your workouts interfering with your social life? Set a standing coffee date to catch up. Colleagues razzing you about your lunchtime workouts? Leave one day open for a department lunch; step it up a notch by suggesting a peaceful outdoor spot so you can bring your lunch with you.

4. Set action goals! “Lose 10 pounds” is a better goal than “Lose weight” because it’s SPECIFIC. But what tends to happen once we reach our 10 pound goal? The behavior that led us to that point ends and the roller coaster ride begins. Setting action-oriented, behavior-focused goals is better. “Eat 1700 calories per day and exercise 4 times per week for 8 weeks” will help you establish a habit AND hit your goal.

5. Be structured with meal planning, but flexible with workouts. Research shows that structured meal plans not only decrease the effort for meal planning and decision making, but they help eliminate temptation. An exercise plan that is too regimented, however, has the opposite effect. If your schedule is too hard to adhere to, you are more likely to get frustrated and feel like a failure.

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