There is no time like the present pandemic to make a healthy lifestyle change. In Part One of this post, I discussed how the pandemic presents us with some unique advantages for making healthy, sustainable change. For those of you who want to take this opportunity to make a healthy change in your life, here are the final steps to make that happen.
Step 4: Determine what part of your lifestyle you want to change.
After you have assessed where you want your health to be versus where you are now, think about what changes you need to make to get your there. Consider the general area of change that would make the most impact in getting you closer to your ideal vision of health. Your area of focus might relate to nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, meditation, or anything that relates to your health. Check out other possible areas here.
Step 5: Get ready to change!
Once you determine the area that might need some adjustments, consider how ready you are to make a change. Consider the following:
How important is the change to you and your vision for yourself? How might your future look if you do not make this change versus if you do make this change?
How confident are you in your ability to make that change? Consider your personal strengths and past experience in making behavior changes. What experience can you draw on? Or, do you need some additional support from a health professional or your family, etc. in order to make the change?
Step 6: Set a specific, measurable and realistic goal to take action on within a specific period of time.
The reason most New Year’s resolutions don’t work is because the resolutions are frequently vague (i.e., I will lose 10 pounds, I will get in better shape, I will get more sleep). Being specific will help keep you focused on your goal and will keep you accountable to yourself. So, instead of a vague goal of “I will get in better shape,” the goal should look more like “I will walk 5 times a week for 30 minutes during my lunch break.” The more specific the goal, the better.
The other factor is to keep things realistic. Finding a way to realistically fit a goal into your life is critical to achieving that goal. There are a lot of considerations to think about. Scheduling and competing priorities are two that frequently come up with health coaching clients.
In addition, it is okay to make baby steps towards your goal. If you haven’t worked out in a long time, it might not be realistic to expect that you will run 10 miles everyday within the first month of working out. It is appropriate to start out with something easy, less frequent and build up to your goal over time. Slowly building on small successes and gaining confidence in your capacity to change is better than getting discouraged by a seemingly impossible goal and giving up.
As a part of making your goal realistic, consider barriers that you might encounter, and come up with a back-up plan. Life gets in the way of best laid plans. When you know that certain things may tend to get in your way, think about how to work around them. Thinking about this in advance will help you to stay on track when the inevitable hiccup happens.
Step 7: Go for it!
Take action and get yourself one step closer to your goal. Once you have gone through the process of thinking it through, you should be more prepared to get started.
Be kind to yourself if you falter. Adjust your goals as necessary. Then, dust yourself off, and get right back at it. Getting and staying healthy is not an all or nothing endeavor.
Stay safe and well!