Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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How to Manage Your Motivation to Live a Healthier Life

How motivated are you to live a healthy life?

Perhaps there’s no single thing you can do more to prevent chronic disease than to actively engage in healthy lifestyle choices. World Health Organization research suggests that in the Western world chronic disease killers such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes could be greatly reduced by making better lifestyle choices. In fact, healthy lifestyle choices could eliminate 80 per cent of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes cases.

Most adults in North America know that risk factors, such as smoking and drinking to excess, and engaging in pro-health behaviours like exercise, diet and sleep, collectively impact their health. Even with this life-and-death information many fail to act or stay motivated.

It’s a common human experience for people to one day decide to take better care of their health. The decision to do so can be influenced from outside or come from within. However, within a few days they get distracted by life and lose focus or stop trying.

Why? One reason could be health fatigue. This happens when the activity to get healthy feels difficult and requires too much energy or discipline. Employers should also keep in mind how they can help employees stay motivated once they decide to make a positive change, through various workplace programs.

Another reason many fail to maintain a healthy lifestyle is gaps in their motivation. To change this, you need to manage your motivation and home in on what will keep you on task and on target.

Motivation management

The microskill of motivation management is the discipline of staying in tune with your drive to achieve a defined outcome or goal. Different kinds of motivation, such as the stick (fear) and the carrot (positive opportunity) can spark a need for change. And sparks that can keep you focused and motivated can come from both external or internal sources.

Here are some tactics to help you improve your motivation to stay healthy and make healthy choices.

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Awareness

Stop for a moment and focus on one area of your health you may like to improve. It can be helpful to write out exactly what you want to change and why, and then evaluate the driving force behind this motivation. Is your motivation to change linked to some fear or opportunity? Tapping into the motivation can spark the energy and discipline required to achieve your goal. It’s important to be specific as to what success is for you personally.

Test your current level of readiness for making this change by using this motivation for change quick survey.

Accountability

Define what sparks will ignite your motivation. One common spark is tuning in to the positive and negative consequences for your pursuit. External motivation can be helpful for some; for others, internal motivation is the most important, especially when they consider the effects on their family, self, relationships, quality and length of life, and job. Internal motivation can be linked to a purpose or a set of values. It’s common to use a combination of internal and external motivations to stay focused on a desired goal.

Action

One approach to motivation management is a game plan to stay focused on achieving your targeted outcome. Ultimately, motivation management is paying attention to the sparks that influence and encourage you. The end goal for health habits is that they become ingrained and automatic. However, since so many start and stop, there can be value in paying attention not only to what you are going to do or how, but also why.

  • Confirm in writing the target area to change. Be clear on the value to you and why you want to make this change.
  • Determine the specific success target. To avoid being vague, attach a number: “For me, success equals …”
  • Write out the specific steps you will take and the action required to achieve your goal: “I will …”
  • Decide if you will use any external consequences to motivate yourself. If you do, ensure that whatever you pick is something you enjoy and something you prefer not to do. For example, “When I achieve … I will treat myself to (reward: something you enjoy and can afford), if not, I will (consequence: do some household chore you don’t like for a week).” Sometimes people engage in peer challenges for motivation.
  • Decide what internal motivation can spark you – perhaps being able to play with your children or see your grandchildren. Ultimately, to achieve long-term health, the more you can tap into internal motivation, the higher the probability you will achieve it.
  • To manage your motivation, it’s helpful to track your daily progress. On-line resources like http://www.stickk.com and others can help you reach your goal.
Bill Howatt     The Globe and Mail    Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto. He is also the president of Howatt HR Consulting and founder of TalOp, in Kentville, N.S.

This is part of a series looking at microskills – changes that employees can make to help improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first.

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7 Ways Mentally Strong People Bounce Back

For some people, failure becomes a permanent roadblock between them and success. For the mentally strong, however, setbacks are an opportunity to sharpen skills and become better at what they do. Whether they are passed up for a promotion or their side hustle costs more money than it earns, mentally strong people don’t let failure define them.

Here’s how mentally strong people turn setbacks into comebacks:

1. They keep failure in proper perspective.

Mentally strong people don’t get overly upset when things don’t go as planned. Instead, they keep setbacks in proper perspective. They intentionally regulate their thoughts and manage their emotions so they can continue to behave productively, despite any hardships they face.

2. They practice self-compassion.

Rather than beat themselves up for not getting it right the first time, mentally strong people maintain a productive inner dialogue. They talk to themselves the same way they’d speak to a trusted friend—with kind and supportive words of encouragement.

3. They choose to be grateful.

Instead of becoming upset that their first attempt didn’t work, mentally strong people choose to be grateful for opportunities to try new things. Their willingness to look for the silver lining keeps their mood positive as they commit to moving forward.

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4. They respect their vulnerabilities.

Mentally strong people use failure as an opportunity to spot their weaknesses. Rather than dispute their shortcomings or hide their mistakes, they seek to be authentic. A humble, self-aware approach helps them develop strategies to become a better person.

5. They acknowledge their strengths.

Setbacks give mentally strong people chances to evaluate their strengths, but they acknowledge their positive attributes without arrogance; they don’t need to brag about their characteristics or achievements. Instead, they simply recognize what they do well so they can build upon these existing strengths.

6. They create a plan to become better.

Mentally strong people view failure as part of the long road to success. They turn each setback into an opportunity to gather more information. Armed with more knowledge, they create a plan to try again.

7. They maintain a healthy self-worth.

A mentally strong person’s self-worth is contingent upon who he is, not what he does. As long as they behave according to their values, mentally strong people feel good about themselves, regardless of their personal or professional failures. Their confidence helps them find the courage to get back up each time they fall.

Build Mental Strength

Building mental strength is similar to building physical strength. You can perform exercises and develop healthy habits—and give up your unproductive habits—to build mental muscle every day. The stronger you grow, the more likely you’ll be to turn your next setback into your biggest comeback.

Aug 29, 2016     Amy Morin LCSW    AUTHOR OF  What Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
 


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5 Ways To Turn Weakness Into Willpower

As Oscar Wilde once said: “I can resist anything except temptation.”

That’s something most of us can relate to. If you’re not one of us, then well done.

For the rest of us, though, there will come a time when we need to ‘not’ do something we want to do. Don’t smoke that cigarette, don’t eat that cake, or skip the soda!

As nice as life is, it is often one long list of temptations that need to be avoided. So what do we do when we are having trouble saying “no” or are fearful of trying something new? We dig deep for the willpower to push us through. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

TO HELP US OUT, HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO STRENGTHEN OUR WILLPOWER:

1. PLAN THE OUTCOME

In the words of Greg S. Reid: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”

There are three critical components of that statement:

  • Writing it down.
  • Breaking it down.
  • Taking action.

We are often guilty of short-term thinking, only seeing what is in front of us. Instead, we should be looking at a bigger picture. So start by writing it down. It will help you become crystal clear about the direction you want to head. Then break it down into manageable parts, so the big goal seems attainable. Then, find the willpower within to take the first step and when you do, your willpower will grow stronger. It’s like a muscle, and it gets better with exercise. So exercise it!

2. AVOID IT!

Avoid situations where there is a need to make tough decisions. Tough decisions will deplete willpower fast. For example, a person who wishes to stop drinking would do well to avoid bars for a while. However, hanging out at the juice bar at the gym will help strengthen willpower, because there isn’t a difficult choice to make.

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3. REWARD YOURSELF.

Yes, when we do good things we like to be rewarded. Collect the money saved from not buying that packet of cigarettes. Collect in a jar and keep it visible. After a period, take the money and splurge on something frivolous like a spa day or new pair of boots. Like any other goals you have written down, focus on them, visualize them and embed that picture in your mind, permanently.

You strengthen your willpower when you remain focused on positive results. Draw on those feelings of success when faced with difficult choices, and you’re more likely to choose wisely.

4. BE ACCOUNTABLE.

Accountability partners are a great way to strengthen our willpower because we are more likely to do what we are supposed to do when we have to report back to someone. The added benefit is we get to call on the willpower of our partner when our willpower is lacking. Friends can achieve a lot together; that’s why they’re friends, and everyone can find a friend or a colleague who has similar goals.

Look at it another way; there is a reason that ‘clubs’ are popular, things like gyms, weight watchers, etc.  They will keep us honest, grounded, and moving forward.  Now, you don’t necessarily need to join a club; just gather a few friends and set up an accountability group.

5. STAY THE COURSE.

If there have been times in the past when we have fallen at the feet of temptation, remember those times and gather strength from them. We should never, ever, take our eye off the prize. Think about it; what changed?  Was it:

The goal? Unlikely.

The dream holiday? Unlikely.

The dream dress we’re trying to squeeze into? Unlikely.

Any other goal? Unlikely.

Instead, we probably gave in to temptation once, then twice, then three times and soon realized we failed. So we gave up. We will continue to fail until the time we don’t and that time maybe the next time.

Making change is hard. In fact, we are designed to resist change. So it might be unrealistic to think we can get there on the first try. But with each try and a clear focus on the goal, you will build the willpower to keep trying until you get it right.

Face it, without a little failure we would have no stories to tell or lessons to learn. Think once again about the goal and measure the triumphs one step at a time. When we stay the course, make a plan, avoid situations that will make things more challenging, find some friends, and then reward ourselves for each step, we will soon learn the day of achieving our big goals is closer than we think.