Give yourself a leg up on those changes you’ve been wanting to make
Last week (January 20 to 26) was National Healthy Weight Week, and for most of us a week is not nearly enough—we’d all like to eat better, shave off a few pounds, or get into shape. Turns out there are some ways to tackle this that you can work into even the most rigorous schedule, because, as so many things, how you approach taking care of yourself affects whether it works.
Say Nicer Things to Yourself
Studies show that if you have a positive body image, you have a much better shot at achieving your weight goals. A study found that having a positive body image made people more than twice as likely to be successful at losing weight than were those who were unhappy with how they looked.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the best place to start is acceptance. Hating yourself is not long-term motivation. It turns out to sabotage you over time. Try to catch yourself being critical, and turn your thoughts to positive ideas about things you can enjoy that are good for you.
Try some healthy life hacks
- Resist the urge to quantify. Put away your scale. Don’t bother to calculate your body mass index (BMI). Ignore the height and weight chart. Instead, focus on the parts of your body that you like, and on building tone and muscle in the areas where you’d like to be stronger and leaner.
- Be realistic in your expectations. From weight to diet to exercise regimen, start where you are and commit to small but daily changes that appeal to you and that you can manage. Once this initial commitment becomes habit, you’ll be inspired to take on a little more. When you eat better and are more active, you’ll likely notice that you feel better, your mind is clearer, your life bigger with new activities, flavors, and possibilities.
- Focus on adding, not taking things away. Cutting out sugar or white flour may help some people lose a few pounds, but that’s not a lifestyle. Add in a new thing or two to your week that makes you happier, stronger, or more content. Experiment with new foods and physical activities. See how you feel about them. If you like them, keep doing them. If you are attracted to something else, try that. There’s always a chance to keep evolving until you hit on something that really suits you. Maybe you need to start with something simple, and fun: When a good song comes on, get out from behind the screen and dance.
Hang out with supportive people
It’s much easier to make changes if we spend time with people who already do the things we aspire to. Ask that neighbor you see out walking every morning if you can join him for a lap around the park. Go with your friend the next time she has to walk her dog. Take a friend to a dance class or a rock climbing gym. Spend time with that family member who cooks, and ask them to teach you to make something healthy and easy. All of these experiences build your life as well as your health.
These are just some suggestions about ways you can help take care of yourself, which means you can enjoy yourself more, be productive, think clearly, and accomplish all your goals, personally and professionally.
The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health provides student advice in its weekly blog. Find out more about our career-focused training programs by contacting us online.