How Can I Change to Healthy Habits?
Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to achieve and maintain well-being. Nutrition, exercise and controlling stress all play major roles in healing our bodies, minds and spirits.
7 of 10 deaths are from preventable chronic diseases (Health Affairs, Nolte and McKee, 2008)
MOTIVATION TO CHANGE
The problem lies not in knowing what you should be doing, but rather in getting motivated to actually lose that weight, stop smoking, get on that treadmill or even just take time out to relax. But for most of us, motivation to change is hard.
Wanting to change our lifestyles is not enough.
We need to change our environments so that we find satisfaction and rewards for our healthy habits. Making a small change, such as drinking water instead of a sugary soda or finding a buddy to walk with once or twice a week, can help support change.
$1.2 trillion of our annual health care costs could be avoided by changing lifestyle practices (Milken Institute, 2007)
NUTRITION AND EXERCISE
Instead of thinking about what you shouldn’t eat, start with what you can add to your diet. A low-fat diet with moderate protein, high fiber, whole grains and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is best for your health.
It helps to write down what you eat throughout the day because we are often not aware of what and how much we eat. Some smart phone apps even help with this and provide motivation to eat a healthier diet.
Remember that foods with sugar, corn syrup and unhealthy fats have been linked to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. High fiber diets can counteract some of these effects. Use the USDA’s MyPlate system to help you choose the right amounts of the right foods.
It is important to balance your play and work. Hobbies can help. Find activities that are fun and rewarding so that you want to do them regularly. They can be anything from walking with friends, playing with your kids, playing a team sport or going on picnics to joining a club or religious organization, volunteering in your community or learning a new skill or craft.
DEALING WITH UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS
Let’s face it, we all do things that we know are not healthy. What is important is that these behaviors don’t become habits. Once they do, they are very hard to break and sometimes require professional help.
Find information on organizations that can help you from your church, community center, doctor and online. The important thing is to develop awareness of your behaviors and seek help.
Use your healthy relationships to find support to manage unhealthy decisions before they become a habit or break bad habits so they do not become addictions.
Practice a Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy behaviors can enhance your well-being. They prevent, treat or even cure disease. Making good food choices, exercising, relaxing and avoiding unhealthy behaviors are important to lifelong health and wellness.
This is part of a series of posts based on applying the science of Optimal Healing Environments to your life. Learn more at SamueliInstitute.org/Inspire.