What motivates you? I know what motivates me. And sometimes its easy to be motivated to make changes in your health lifestyle. Other times it is difficult.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about doing the things your body needs to be healthy. Why is it so difficult to make changes that stick?
You know what I mean. You set a New Years resolution to avoid sweets and drop 15 pounds and then within 24 hours you find yourself reaching for foods you know you shouldn’t be eating. When it comes to exercising, eating the right foods, and letting go of harmful stress- why does it so often seem like an uphill battle?
Not long ago, I saw a young man in his late thirties who was seeing me because of congestive heart failure. The man was over 400 pounds and the cause of the dramatic swelling in his legs related to his obesity. Now this man had already developed heart weakening because of his weight. He was well on the road to having a permanent disability.
You would think that he of all people would be motivated to make dramatic lifestyle changes to reverse this unfortunate situation. Yet, he wasn’t. For some reason he couldn’t stop eating. He couldn’t force himself to exercise.
“I try,” he said, “but I just can’t make the changes stick.”
It’s a battle that many people struggle through in their lives. How do we stay motivated? How do we make the difficult choices that we know we need to make for our health? If you look around America you realize that there’s not a lot of people making healthy choices in their lifestyles.
Now, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’d like to offer some simple rule that have worked for many people in making changes stick.
1. Find your Why! In order to make a change stick in your life you have to have a very strong reason to change. You have to have a “Why.” Your why can’t be something abstract. It must be linked to something deeply emotional, something that really moves you. Fear is a great motivator. Fear of dying, fear of a heart attack, fear of disability- these are some motivational “whys” that I have seen work in my patients. What is your “why?” What will give you the ooomph you need to change?
2. Set Goals. No change will ever happen without a road map. You can’t get where you want to go unless you know where you are headed. Sit down with a piece of paper and spend some time thinking hard about what it is you want to achieve. Outline specific steps for achieving that goal. Keep them posted where you can see them daily.
3. Take Action. Taking action is critical. After you’ve found your “why”, set your goals, and outlined your action steps- then do it. Begin to take action that day. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Take one step forward, even if its a very small step.
5. Don’t give up. Not giving up is the most important part of making lifestyle changes stick. Keep not giving up. If you fall off the wagon, pick yourself up and try again tomorrow. This is the only way to truly succeed.
All of us fail. We all eat the wrong things, fail to exercise, or get overcome by stress. Yet, if we don’t give up. We eventually succeed.
I hope I’ve motivated you. I hope you’ve made up your mind to change your life in a positive direction.
Follow these steps and you’ll make the changes in your life truly stick.