BY DR. ROOPA CHARI, M.D.
You want to be healthier and be more active. You make the same resolution each New Year. Let’s talk about how you can make this the best year yet by learning new habits and behaviors to live the life you have been meaning to live for years!
Our lives are basically the result of our long-term behaviors or habits. So to live the life you envision, it’s important to make positive changes to your behavior patterns.
Below are six easy strategies to help you gain the wonderful habits you need to make the changes you desire. Make this the year for you to be in control of your well-being!
- Make your new activity as enjoyable as possible. If you do not like to exercise, find an activity that you enjoy. Maybe you have always enjoyed dancing. Take a dance class such as zumba, salsa or even hip-hop! Or buy a dance instructional video. Think of physical activities that you enjoy doing and start bringing those into your life in place of gym workouts. Being active in this way means you will look more forward to doing it. Maybe you can even find a friend to join you. Add a little social time to your new behavior. They may even have some more fun ideas to help keep you active and healthy.
- The more you enjoy doing something, the more likely you are to do it.
- Make a list of the positive benefits you’ll receive. By making a list, you’ll begin to see any new behavior in a more positive light. Come up with as many benefits as you can and keep the list in an easy to find place so that you will see it regularly!
- For example, some of the positive aspects of being more active might include:
- I’ll feel better.
- My clothes will fit better.
- I’ll enjoy more vibrant health.
- I’ll feel more attractive again.
- I’ll have more fun with my family & friends.
- I’ll feel more confident.
- I will have more energy.
- Make the decision and start moving now. This step is really pure physics. Once you decide to start and then you actually start your activity, it is much easier to keep going. Your first step action will put you closer to committing to your new behavior. Stop wishing – and decide. Remember as Nike says “Just Do It”!
- Control your thoughts. This is the step that will take the most focus from you. Catch yourself as you try to talk yourself out of doing any kind of physical activity.
- When you feel negative thoughts coming in such as:
- “I am too tired.”
- “It doesn’t matter if I skip today.”
- “I won’t get healthier or lose weight. I have tried this before.”
- “What is the point?”
- “I don’t really think this will make a difference.”
When you start hearing these thoughts and others, remind yourself of the end goal and take yourself back to #2 and the benefits of changing your behavior and being more active.
- The more incentive you have, the more likely you are to be successful. Remind yourself of the benefits and rewards (See #5.).
- For example, if you spend all your time focused on how good you’re going to look and feel after being active for three months, your odds of success go up considerably. On the other hand, if you spend all your time thinking negatively, the outcome will probably not be positive!
- Reward yourself afterwards. A little reward can go a long way. So, after a new behavior has taken root, be sure to do something nice for yourself. Maybe you can enjoy your favorite sweet snack after each week of working out or being active. Or perhaps you can buy yourself those new shoes after you lose those first ten pounds. Pat yourself on the back for your hard work, you deserve it! Be proud of yourself for following through on any new habit that improves your life.
- Be diligent. While getting started is often the most difficult part, it can be easy to backslide if you get distracted and stop paying attention. Every day, review how you did. How successful were you in being active each day? Each moment you spend measuring your progress serves as a daily reminder. This will help solidify your new habit. You may have heard before that it only takes 30 days of doing something to make it a habit. This is true! Be sure to stick with it until you can’t live without your weekly dance class or morning walk.
Changing behaviors and habits can be challenging, but it can improve your life in the long-term. These steps can be repeated for other habits, too. Examine which behaviors you might want to change to take your life to the next level, and then apply the process above. However, be patient with yourself – you may have been doing something a certain way for many years. Some things will take time to change, but you can do it!
About Dr. Roopa Chari, M.D.: "Dr. Roopa Chari is a medical doctor in Internal Medicine and her brother Deepak Chari is an Engineer and Certified Biofeedback Specialist at The Chari Center of Health, an advanced integrative medical center in Encinitas, CA. * Sign up for a FREE 15 minute holistic medical consult with Dr. Chari and/or a FREE 30 minute Stress & Anxiety Relief session with Advanced Voice Biofeedback with Deepak Chari here or call (760) 230-2711."