It seems that at some stage in life all of you will make the decision to bring about lifestyle change in order to preserve your health. Of course frequently this will be a decision you make having suffered from health problems, but some of you choose this before illness befalls you because you realise your future depends on enjoying good health.
I’m sure there is nobody who would choose to deliberately suffer from bad health. They know they drink too much, smoke and rarely exercise and eat dreadfully, but they ignore the possible results this will have on their health to avoid having to make lifestyle change. Best not think about it, right?
When asked about their health these people will say they wished they could cut down on alcohol, give up smoking, get fitter and lose weight, but they struggle to do so, failing every time they try to make lifestyle change.
According to a poll in 2010 conducted by Harris Interactive, fewer than one in five adults report being successful at making lifestyle change such as losing weight, starting a regular exercise program, eating a healthier diet and reducing stress.
It is so common for people to go through a cycle of change and then return. What do I mean by this? Well think about the yo-yo journey of dieting. Most of you have been there. The cycle of dieting, losing weight, starting to eat “normally,” regaining what was lost, and dieting again has become totally familiar. You’re not alone, it seems a majority of people having dieted, losing weight, gain the weight back within a year.
Everyone who goes on a diet wants to lose weight, get healthier and stay like that. But what they discover is making sustainable behaviour change is not easy.
This begs the question what prevents people from taking and sustaining lifestyle changes?
Psychological research has shown that making sustainable behaviour change is not a one-off decision but is a process, one very much dependent on winning the psychological battle. This is dependent on knowing precisely why you are wanting the change and how you see this change benefiting you.
Without having a motivating and powerful ‘why’ you may well be inspired to start that diet, join the gym, quit smoking, or another lifestyle change, but you won’t be able to stick to it.
Change is hard, but it’s not impossible. People first have to recognize that the benefits of changing their lifestyle will outweigh the investment of time and energy (not to mention the hassle) it’s going to take to make it happen.
The key to maintaining a new behaviour and improving your health is having a clear reason that can help you get through temptations, barriers and your minds ability of telling you it’s too difficult, the change is not working, the effort and sacrifice required is not necessary.
So if you want to bring about dramatic improvements in your health, making behavioural changes to bring this about you need a powerful why.
Think about how your lifestyle is affecting your health and happiness. Do you struggle with certain things because of your health? Would making a lifestyle change actually benefit you?
Know Your “Why?”
If you don’t know why you want to make lifestyle change, you are more likely to lose your motivation at some point to stay on course. In fact, not knowing your “why” is the single most common reason for failing to reach one’s goal. Your “why” is the real reason underneath your stated reason for changing. It is your inspiration and your motivation.
Strangely the reason ‘I want to be healthy’ isn’t on its own powerful enough. You need to dig deeper and ask yourself why do you want to be healthy?
For me it’s because I want to be able to play with my grandkids for the next 20 years. Also I’m fed up of feeling energy less all day, every day. Instead I want to feel good every day, being far more productive, achieving my goal of being a best-selling author. I really don’t want to struggle with life, there’s too much I want to do, so it is essential I take care of myself today, tomorrow, and in the future. But it will always come back to seeing an image of my grandkids in my mind, knowing I just have to be around to see them grow up and develop, and for them to see me full of energy and loving life. To enable this I have to bring about lifestyle change.
So what’s your why for lifestyle change?
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This was perfect timing Larry! I’m doing a business class and we’re talking about inspiration and the “why.” It’s not quite geared toward health and wellness, but adding the “why?” question into more aspects of my life is good. I’ve recently started going to the gym again. Why? Because I want to look and feel good about myself. After reading this, I should probably expand on that and asking “Why?” even more. Thanks again Larry!