The key to a healthier lifestyle is working out your ‘why’
Can you believe it's almost March?! How are your New Year's resolutions going? It’s been well documented that New Year’s resolutions don’t work. In fact more than half of people that make New Year’s resolutions are likely to have given them away by the time Valentine’s day rolls around.
If, like many of us, you struggled to stay on track over summer, and your resolution lasted as long as a leftover Christmas ham; now’s the time to start exploring a new way of thinking that goes beyond the traditional approach, and is much more sustainable.
As autumn rolls around, we ask one of our Life! facilitators, Nicole French, about practical steps you can take to get back on a healthier path.
Finding our ‘why’ – by Nicole French
Too often when trying to make positive life changes, we are told 'If you want it badly enough, you will make it happen', and then if we don’t make it happen, we are told that it was because ‘you didn’t want it badly enough’ or ‘you didn’t value your health’. This leads to feelings of failure and low self-worth.
This is a frustrating reality. From my perspective, it’s because people often look at the outcome as the only part of the process. They miss the emotional element of behaviour change, which is finding out ‘why’ we really want to change; this is the very element that we need to be focusing on and the key driver to achieving a successful outcome. This is a simple idea, however it is commonly overlooked.
First, we need to recognise the behaviours that we need to start doing, as well as the ones we need to stop doing. As we work with these behaviours we will soon find that these will become the focus. This is a great way to continue to build momentum moving forward.
Next, we need to ask ourselves ‘why’ we want to change these behaviours. Dig deep, then a bit deeper, and deeper again until you find your answer - 100% of the time it will be related to how you want to feel.
For example; what is the driver behind wanting to lose weight, or getting fit? Is it to look good? This could be a desirable outcome upon first glance, but really what we want to feel is more self-confident. Perhaps we’re worried about chronic disease and that makes us feel scared. Perhaps we’re feeling frustrated with how much our joints hurt when we move, or how some physical activities that we used to find easy, now leave us out of breath.
Emotion drives behaviour. That’s why we are so good at impulsively buying things we don’t actually need. This can also be connected with why we eat when we are sad or stressed out – we know that this will make us feel good (even if for only a short time) and we desire to feel that way, so we do it.
So you see, the deeper we can connect with the way we are feeling, and then how we wish to feel, the easier it will be to drive behaviour change in a positive direction.
How to start - there are three easy steps:
1. Identify your why
Try connecting with how you feel with your current situation, ask yourself how you would like to feel, picture it.
Once we understand our emotional reasons for why we want to change, and why we do the things we do, we regain the control and really start moving forward.
2. Make a plan
Start to practice the behaviours that will help you get where you want to be. Make a plan and keep a record of what you are doing, share it with someone close to you to stay accountable.
Plan to just start moving on some level, even if just increasing incidental movement; such as walking instead of driving, or standing rather than sitting.
Don’t underestimate the positive health effects of small increases in movement and don’t think too hard about it, just start. The more you think about it, the longer you’ll put it off.
Write down your ‘why’ and reflect on this regularly. This is especially important for days when you feel ready to give up and will keep you motivated.
Be kind in your self-talk and praise yourself for moving forward with your actions. Celebrate small achievements. Small changes lead to big outcomes so make sure you are recognising and rewarding yourself along the way.
When self-doubt sneaks in, kick it to curb and be confident in your approach knowing you are on an important journey to feeling happier and being healthier. Who knows, you just might inspire someone close to you to start thinking about their own health and wellbeing.
Here’s to a healthier you!
Nicole French is the Senior Exercise Physiologist and Managing Director of Exercise for Rehabilitation and Health.
Over her career, Nicole has specialised in the delivery of exercise, lifestyle and behavioural modification programs for the prevention and management of chronic and complex medical conditions.
Nicole’s love for metabolic conditions developed whilst she was studying her Master’s degree at University. Her very first patient had diabetes and seeing the influence that physical activity had on his overall health inspired her to pursue a specialisation in this area. So inspired to help people living with diabetes and pre diabetes she opened her own private practice so that she could focus on this area and make a real difference. She works closely with GP’s, Endocrinologists and Diabetes Educators to help her clients work on creating lasting lifestyle changes to help with the management of diabetes and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Following her passion for diabetes, Nicole started working with the Life! Program to continue her work with people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. She started seeing real evidence that exercise and dietary changes made a difference to the lives of Life! participants, even years down the track, which she finds incredibly inspiring.
Building her practice on evidence and passion, she has dedicated her work towards helping people make a difference to their lives.
Nicole's next Life! group is set to commence on Wednesday 15 March in Essendon North. To see if you are eligible to take part please call 13 RISK (13 74 75) or email us.