A new year is about to start, and it may be time for a change. You may find yourself waking up and you realizing, “I don’t want to be like this anymore.” Whether it is due to what you see in the mirror, how you feel looking at the clothes in your closet, or just wanting to cry when you see the numbers on the scale, you know – deep, down inside you know – you just can’t go on like this anymore. You want 2017 to be different, and you want YOU to be different. So, you want to change. After you have decided that enough is enough, those negative thoughts suddenly creep in with the “what if…” or the “if only…” or “but I probably can’t because I…” mantras. Then you mentally throw your hands up in despair, thinking there is no way you can change – and so you don’t. Here at Hilton Head Health, we want you to take a step back, squash that negative thinking and believe that you can change.
The first step to making any change is to start; that’s right, just start. Keep in mind this is all up to you, so envision yourself getting behind the driver’s wheel, facing forward, and steering yourself down the path you want to go. The rearview mirror is there for you to check, but staring into your past will not get you moving forward. Gently, simply press the gas pedal and start progressing onward. Starting does not mean that you do everything all at once – change everything you are eating, get a personal trainer to work out six times a week, or buy a whole new wardrobe of workout gear. If you want to change, go to a place where you can think for a few minutes about the one thing – just ONE thing – you want to try to do for the next seven days. It can be that you want to move more. If that is the case, you may want to get a fitness tracker and start counting your steps. If your doctor has told you that you need to cut down on the sugar, try drinking only water throughout the day or, if you feel you cannot give up your soft drinks (and please don’t think diet drinks are good for you; they are not), then limit yourself to only one soft drink a day. If you need to decrease the amount of junk food you are eating, then you may want to throw out all the potato chips in the house and when you do get that craving for a chip, replace it with carrots and hummus or celery and peanut butter. Make a commitment to this ONE thing by writing it down. Try this one new behavior for seven days and record what you did each day as well as how you felt about it. At the end of the seven days, decide if it is a behavior you want to keep and, if so, keep it! If not, think about altering it slightly to another behavior; just be sure it is one that is healthy for you. If you decide to keep the behavior, then add on another one that replaces an unhealthy habit. For example, if you decide that you enjoy moving more and you are finding you can get to 5,000 steps a day, see what it would take to get to 7,000 steps a day. If giving up potato chips has been easier than you thought, then move on to replacing another unhealthy food with a healthier alternative. Again, keep a record of the new behavior and the outcomes you try each day.
Any changes in behavior will have obstacles. If you can, plan ahead for what those may be so that you are prepared for how to deal with the challenge when it arises. If you slip up, avoid declaring that what you have tried has failed; it hasn’t! Instead, learn from the slip and recognize the efforts that you have been making to improve your well-being. Keep in mind that what you think impacts how you feel, so be sure to check your thoughts and make sure they are working for you – NOT against you! Change happens slowly, so it is important to observe the outcomes of your new behaviors in order to determine what works best and what does not. Having support is also going to be important, and support can come in many forms through people, an app, reading information from reliable sources, or even your doctor. Be kind to yourself as you make these changes, set small goals and celebrate those successes!
Support can also come from Hilton Head Health (H3). At H3, we want to encourage you and we want you to know that YOU CAN. You can make changes that influence your well-being, and we are here to help. The “one thing” you may want to do is invest in yourself and your well-being by enrolling in our LoseWell4 program. This program provides a holistic approach to your health and weight loss goals through nutritional advice, fitness coaching, health lectures and emotional support. We can help take you to the next level of your health-related goals, and we encourage you to check out our website to find out more about LoseWell4. Hilton Head Health has additional programs, with shorter time commitments, which can help you jump start your fitness and dietary strategies.
Take the first step and believe in yourself. Start a new behavior today that helps you become the person you want to become. And let Hilton Head Health know how we can help!