bicycling in gym

An Action Plan for Getting and Staying Healthy

We’re always promising ourselves that we’ll change to better health habits. Do you want to actually do it?

“It’s the ultimate personal challenge,” says Leigh Stringer, author of The Healthy Workplace. “It takes guts and determination to make and keep those life-changing commitments in our lives, but it can be done.” Here’s how:

  1. Get Serious. We need a strong reason to overcome our natural lack of motivation.

Becoming healthier is a really good idea. But to get us to change our behavior – to actually change the way we eat, move, sleep and manage our stress on an ongoing basis – requires a really powerful motivator.  We need a reason that makes it “absolutely essential” for us to do something differently, and think of ourselves differently.  Our lame excuses need to be trumped by a greater calling.  We need a real sense of urgency and a stronger “why.”

Deciding to be healthy has to be more than just a cool thing to do or a “nice to have.”  Making the firm decision to change lifelong habits for the better requires steely resolve and a strong, unquestionable purpose.  It has to be bullet-proof.

Take Action:

  • Think. What would incentivize you to make a firm decision and commit to it?
  • Write down what motivates you and post it where you will see it several times a day. This is your “why.”  A strong “why” can navigate when the “how” is not so clear.
  1. Choose friends wisely. You can influence your own behavior by hanging out with healthy people.

Social influence and peer pressure positively impact our exercise behavior, awareness of our intent to exercise and produce results, and the attitude maintained during the exercise experience.  You are more likely to stay on an exercise program if you have a friend (either an individual or group) who works out with you.  Connecting with other people is critical.  We are hard-wired to want to impress and relate to our friends. In addition, if you commit to being at the gym every day, you will feel good and will achieve your goals by keeping your promise to yourself.

Take Action:

  • Find a friend you like to exercise with and set up meetings on your calendar to do so. Make friends with people you meet at the health club.
  • Surround yourself with people who are healthy and have already adopted the behaviors you are trying to achieve. Decide to be around them often. It will help nudge you to make better decisions and achieve your goals.
  1. Be accountable.

If you are accountable for the commitments you make, you are much more likely to achieve your goals.   One great way to keep honest is to find an accountability partner – someone you trust and who will check in with you on a regular basis (daily, weekly or whatever is needed) to see how you are doing, give you positive reinforcement, track how well you doing, and encourage you to stick with your commitments.

Take Action:

  • Find someone you trust to be your accountability partner.