What if I could prescribe a pill that could help you lose weight and stay fit permanently? And what if research showed this pill is effective. On top of that, it also prevents and treats high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, even depression and dementia. And as a matter of fact, it’s only side effects are improved sleep, increased energy, and enhanced skin health.
Actually, this powerful medicine exists. It’s real and readily available for everyone. It’s called lifestyle change. Trust me, it works well, amazingly well. So what exactly is a lifestyle change? Lifestyle change is not a diet or a fitness fad that lasts for a while. It is a real change that involves so much more than food and exercise. It emphasises nutrition and exercise, as one would expect, but it also addresses psychological factors like everyday habits, emotions, loneliness, isolation, depression, and anger. Why? Because a lot of our “bad” behaviours such as eating sugary foods, eating comfort foods, food addictions and overeating are actually our attempts to self-medicate emotional pain. Here are the essential steps for making a healthy lifestyle change.
Identify Your Priorities
The first thing to do is to identify your priorities. Make a written list of what is important to you (e.g, family, work, health, etc). Then, organise these items in order of importance. Typically, the things you spend the most time doing are the things that are most important to you. For instance, do you spend more time each week surfing the internet than you do exercising or preparing healthy meals for yourself?
At least now, having done this little exercise, you are more aware of your priorities then you were before. If this causes you to want to change your priorities, this is an important step toward making a healthy lifestyle change. People often say, “My problem is not about priorities, it is lack of commitment.” So what’s the difference? Without getting into semantics, we come back to the real question: Are you spending the most time on the things that are most important to you? If you doubt that your behaviour is not reflecting your priorities, then ask yourself why you think you are more committed to something that is not important to you. Does that make sense?
Know Your Why?
If you don’t know why you want to change, you are more likely to lose your motivation at some point to stay on course. In fact, not knowing your “why” is the single most common reason for failing to reach one’s goal. Your “why” is the real reason underneath your stated reason for changing. It is your game changer.
Make the Decision
Probably the most overlooked and most difficult step in making a change is making the decision to change. Everyone has within oneself the power to change. Though, given the variety of circumstances, it is more difficult for some to change than others, we all have the power. Often, the difference between someone who succeeds and someone who does not, is not circumstantial. The successful person made the decision to succeed. You can have the best of intentions and make all of the plans necessary to make a change. But until you actually decide to take action nothing will ever come of those intentions and plans.
Ask yourself, “Are you ready?” Any lifestyle change must be viewed as a commitment. A decision stated in language such as, “I think I can do that”, or “I’ll try to do this” is not really a decision at all. This is you thinking about making a decision. Get serious about your commitment to yourself. You can waiver all you want beforehand. But when you have finally made the decision, you must actually decide that you will attain your goal and nothing will stand in your way. It’s a matter of choice.
The magical thing about a true commitment to a healthy lifestyle change is that once you actually make the decision, attaining your goal suddenly becomes a much more likely result. It’s what we all want, and we can have it if we really, truly want it. It’s a matter of choice. Just make the decision and watch it happen!