What are the secrets that can help me lose weight and keep exercising and do all the things I need to do to be healthy? Her answer is: There is no secret sauce — you just have to work at it. But there are eight tips that can help you be much more effective in your efforts. Here’s the secret sauce that can enhance your journey to LiVing Well:
- Focus on your overall well-being, not just your physical health. Working to improve your “well-being,” which includes how you feel day-to-day emotionally and physically, is more effective than just trying to lose weight or reach another physical goal. If you focus on any component of well-being — such as improving your relationships or managing your financial worries — you’ll improve your entire life, including your physical health.
- LiVing Well is a journey, not an event. The world is constantly marketing instant, do-this-and-you’ll-be-healthy ideas, but in reality, you’ve got to invest continuous effort over time if you really want to improve your health and your life. You can’t expect sudden and miraculous results. But if you just keep plugging along, you’ll get where you want to be.
- You’re your own best expert on how to change. You know what you can and can’t do. Once you get advice or information about how to LiVe Well, you know better than anyone else how to implement it. Essentially you need to write your own self-help book about what helps you LiVe Well. Figuring out what works for you will help you make the changes you want to make.
- Know when you’re ready to change. The fact that a doctor says you need to make changes — or because the new year began on January 1 — isn’t going to motivate you. For example, my dentist told me I ought to floss. But I walked out and thought: That’s not going to happen.” Motivation that comes from within is more effective long-term strategy. I’ll floss when I’m ready to start flossing, not when my dentist says I should. So to help you live healthier, identify the personal reasons why you want to change, and keep them at the forefront of your mind.
- Take small, easy, specific steps that move you toward your bigger goal — and do them frequently. Don’t say ‘I’m going to solve my financial problems’ or ‘I’m going to improve my relationships. Do say: ‘I’m going to save $10, and I’m going to call my mom.’ Then adopt a reasonable schedule that helps you follow up frequently. You could say: I’m going to save $10 from each paycheck and I’m going to call my mom on Sundays. Those are the kind of steps that can grow into habits.
- Use prompts. They work! Our lives are built around prompts. We have lots of them because they really work. The prompts that help you live healthier should be things you do already that are part of your regular day. For example, instead of saying: I’ll reduce my stress by stretching my neck, shoulders, and hamstrings, say this: After I eat lunch when I’m at work, I’ll stand and stretch my neck, shoulders, and hamstrings.
- Use short testing periods with start and end dates. Experiments require start dates and end dates. That helps make your goal measurable and attainable — and more motivating. For example, you could say, After I eat lunch at work, I’ll stand and stretch my neck, shoulders, and hamstrings, and I’ll do it for two weeks, then I’ll evaluate to see how it benefits me and how practical it is.
- You can’t fail as long as you learn from what you do. After your experiment with your new behaviors, ask yourself: What did this teach me about myself? You may find it really worked for you and you want to keep doing it — or you may love it, but need a better prompt. Or you may say: Nope — this isn’t going to work for me right now. The key is, you can’t fail as long as you’re learning what works and doesn’t work for you. So keep trying — and keep learning.