Changing to Positive Health Behaviors Not Impossible

Health Minute

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Whether it’s a recent birthday, an upcoming wedding or a New Year’s resolution, different events give us the opportunity to break some old habits and incorporate some new ones. We usually start out with a ‘gung ho’ attitude, but after a few weeks, the novelty wears off and we slide back to our comfort zone.

Getting Ready

Changing behaviors isn’t easy. Most of us know what we need to do but actually doing it and completely incorporating a new way of thinking is tough. We have good intentions, but there can be a lot of things that get in our way and contribute to falling short of success. Although some of these obstacles are out of our control such as family genetics, there are other things we can control.  By making healthy lifestyle choices, we can reduce illness and increase the quality of our lives.

Before we do anything, we need to be ready to make the change. If we’re not ready, we will not be successful. Researchers have identified definite Stages of Change ranging from “not thinking about it” to “actually making the change” and several stages in between. Determining which stage you are in is important and will influence your success. You may be ready to change some health behaviors but not others. For example, a person needing to lose weight can go about this by cutting back on their calories by reducing fat and sweets and by cutting down portion sizes.  We may be ready to cut back on fat but still want to eat larger portions.  We may be ready to start exercising but not cut back on eating.  We go back and forth between stages, especially when feeling stressed or dealing with new or difficult situation. The bottom line is that before making a health behavior change, you need to be honest with yourself and decide if you are really ready to make the change. If you aren’t, is there something you can do to make yourself ready?  Learn more about the Stage of Changes and what stage you may be in.

Setting goals

If you don’t really think your health is particularly important, you are less likely to make a health behavior change. Sometimes it’s helpful to look ahead and decide where you want your health to be in 5, 10, or 20 years. Your health is your responsibility and the decisions you make today will make a difference in your health down the road. Consider bringing your physician into your plan. He/she is dedicated to helping you improve your health. If deciding to improve your health behaviors becomes a priority to achieve your lifelong goals, maybe then you will take action. Making a health behavior change requires determination and fortitude and no one can do it for you. Your physician can be your partner but you are ultimately in charge.

Armed with Knowledge

It’s important to have the knowledge and skills necessary to make a health behavior change. Never be embarrassed to ask your physician questions you need answered to carry out your health behavior change. Maybe there are terms you don’t understand like ‘BMI’ or ‘triglycerides’. Sometimes you might use your ‘ignorance’ on a topic as a way to avoid the topic. This won’t help your mission to incorporate a healthier lifestyle. Research suggests the more engaged and interested you are in learning about your health; the more likely you are to take action. Remember that knowledge is power when it comes to changing health behaviors.  Ask your doctor when you don’t understand terms.  This will help you understand and achieve your goals.

Depending on the health behavior, there are dependable sources of information in magazines or on the Internet, but also discussions with your doctor may be helpful as he/she knows your medical history and can provide information or point you toward reliable resources.
Incorporating a healthy behavior change isn’t easy but with knowledge, determination and motivation, it can be done. And your physician is always there to help you.

Find Your Perfect Match

Answer a few questions and we'll provide you with a list of primary care providers that best fit your needs.

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