In last few decades the amount of scientific information available on the importance of regular physical activity and good nutrition has grown dramatically. This information has helped researchers better understand how a healthy diet and regular exercise affect disease processes and what benefits are available to those who have a healthy lifestyle. This information has lead to a wide-spread campaign that almost everyone has heard: eat well, exercise and maintain a healthy weight to feel better and live longer.
If the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are so great and well known, so why isn’t everyone eating right and exercising regularly? Most people have given some thought about how they might start to live a healthier lifestyle, but it often ends there. Thinking about a living a healthy lifestyle is not enough—and although initial action is essential to begin, sustained healthful behaviors are needed for the most benefit.
All the information about good health and quality of life is of no value unless it can motivate and inspire people to change, and lasting change involves action, backed with motivation. Motivation must come from within a person—the bottom-line reason they want to change. For example, desiring to have the energy to perform at your best (work, family, and activities) can be a good positive motivator.
Even if you have a great underlying motivator, it can often get lost in the day-to-day struggles and challenges. If you, or someone you know, would like to move past thinking about making lifestyle changes and start taking action, here are some strategies that can help you begin, and then keep you motivated, on your wellness journey.
· List the reasons why past attempts at maintaining a healthy lifestyle have failed. Then, strategize ways to counter each of the reasons past attempts have failed.
· Gather your support group. Find someone to go on the journey with you—even if it’s just for a while. The accountability and support will help to keep you on track. If you can’t find someone to join you, ask someone to be your cheerleader instead, giving you regular positive feedback and encouragement along the way.
· Find activities and foods you enjoy. Experiment and be open-minded. What may not sound enjoyable may become your favorite activity or food. Start slowly by introducing a new activity and new foods gradually so you don’t become overwhelmed and discouraged.
· Set daily goals. Start with small daily goals to increase your physical activity and introduce nutritional strategies into your day. Write down the things you enjoy, and keep a running list in case you forget. On those days you get discouraged or bored, read the list and try a trusted approach instead.
· Set weekly goals. Fill in a weekly calendar with activities and foods you plan to incorporate into your schedule. After each week, ask yourself if those goals were realistic or too easy, and modify them for the next week.
· Reward yourself. If you successfully make small steps to improve your lifestyle, consider purchasing something new for your healthy lifestyle adventure, such as a new pair of exercise shoes, cookbook or a massage. How often depends on you, but make it often enough to keep you encouraged, but not too often so you don’t feel you’ve earned the reward.
For those who of you who are already striving to follow a healthy lifestyle, congratulations! You are a role model for many on how to stay motivated and maintain healthy habits. Share your success by encouraging others and revealing your successful strategies.
About the Author: Alice Burron is an affiliate spokesperson and highly successful personal trainer for the American Council on Exercise. She earned a master’s in physical education with an emphasis in exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming and is a leading national fitness and wellness program expert.
Check out Alice's new book Four Weeks to Fabulous, created to empower the average working woman who is busy with her family, career, and wants to take control of her weight - and health. Four Weeks to Fabulous is available at www.2BFIT.net, or can be purchased on Amazon. Please note that when ordering on 2BFIT.net, you must click on Buy Now under "Special Offer for NurseTogether members - Free Shipping."
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