Kickstart Healthier Habits
How can you improve your healthy habits? Changing from unhealthy to healthy habits is seldom easy. We think that we should change... but don’t really feel like it. We tend to remain on autopilot -- doing what we have to do, without thinking deeply or exploring our feelings about change. Our good intentions fail, and we quickly slip back to old ways. Here are some steps you can take to create the change you want in your diet -- and your life.
Do any of these beliefs really ring true for you?
If only life were so simple and rational.
Simple, but also not so simple
What's missing from this logical formula? Why you resist healthy behavior change, despite your best intentions? Emotional resistance is the crucial component that drives your unhealthy habits. If you do not understand the strength of this negative force, you will underestimate the complexity of behavior change. Learn how to lower your emotional resistance before you can develop effective motivation to change.
Explore the challenge of changing your unhealthy habits. What are you emotionally up against? If you underestimate your challenge, you may become over-confident (I can quit drinking any time). If you overestimate your challenge, you may lack the confidence to change (I feel hopeless about losing weight).
Step 1: Understand your challenge
Use a decision balance to clarify your issues about change
Assess your competing priorities
Evaluate your energy level to change
Examine your motives
Step 2: Mastering the process of change
Is your head (I think that I should change) and heart (...but I don't feel like it) working against one another. Learn how to U-turn your emotional resistance into effective motivation so that your head and heart on working together on change.
Explore your perceptions about risks, benefits and harms
Lower your emotional resistance
Are you willing to move out of your comfort zone to experience ambivalence about change? This process creates emotional dis-ease. Will you invest the emotional energy to work through your ambivalence, rather than retreat from it? Are you willing to probe and explore your competing priorities, with the goal of creating a healthier future?
Increase your motivation
Are you willing to substitute the benefits of your unhealthy habits with healthy alternatives? Do you want to wait until your experience the consequences of your unhealthy habits? Or are you willing to change before they occur? If you answered no and then yes to these two questions, what is preventing you from doing what you say?
Change your values
Step 3: Rise to the challenge of making a change
Boost your confidence
Enhance your ability to change
Stay on track with your action plan
Prevent backsliding to old ways
About the author:
British-trained Dr. Rick Botelho is a professor of Family Medicine and Nursing at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. He wrote the guidebook Motivate Healthy Habits: Stepping Stones To Lasting Change for the general public, based on his practitioner book Motivational Practice: Promoting Healthy Habits and Self-care of Chronic Diseases. Find out more at motivatehealthyhabits.com.
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