Lifestyle Change or Diet is a 4 Letter Word

Diet is a 4 letter word. I know that is obvious, but I also think it similar to those other 4 letter words. Why? Because if I say the word diet to my mother, she wants to wash my mouth out with soap. Diet simply means to me “what one puts in their body”, but to many other people it can be a scary word filled with memories of exhaustion, shame, fear, and deprivation. My mother has been on many “diets” throughout her life that have made her sick beyond belief.

Of course the idea of diets absolutely make sense to me, who doesn’t want to lose all of their holiday weight in 2 weeks? However, the problem with these fads is that you get the weight back, probably really quickly.

In order to get to a healthier weight or just get healthier, you must make lifestyle changes that you can keep for the rest of your life. Why start a “diet” that you know you are not going to keep forever? To me, that is simply the start of a yo-yo diet and a very unhealthy trend.

I will walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

I will walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

So instead of making giant changes that are too hard to keep, start small and see what you can accomplish through lifestyle changes. “Lifestyle change is not a single event or one time decision, but a dynamic process of self-reflection, gathering information, making choices, developing skills, and constantly readjusting a plan” (Huhn, 2007).  Your changes may change over time. They may get more challenging or easier if you are finding that you just can not keep them.

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I will eat a serving of vegetables at every meal.

Make a challenge for yourself to make 4 goals that you can keep forever that are measurable, quantitative, and focus on a behavior.

  • I will only eat at fast food restaurants 1 time per week.
  • I will take 3 Bootcamp classes a week at the gym.
I will eat a healthy breakfast every morning.

I will eat a healthy breakfast every morning.

Just making the goals are your first step. The next step is accountability. A study done on 317 Belgiums found that those who set up lifestyle changes with a higher rate of interventions had greater overall lifestyle change. Examples of interventions used in the study were medical assessment, websites, or individual coaching (Jacobs et al, 2011).

Teamwork helps me accomplish my fitness goals.

Teamwork helps me accomplish my fitness goals.

Recruit medical professions, go to meetings or get friends involved. You can set up a contract with a friend or even me to help hold you accountable to the goals you want to accomplish and keep. Then check in one time a week with that person and see how well you were able to keep your goals. Only keeping some of your goals 50% of the time? This is the time to analyze why and see what you can do to fix it.

Try some of your own goals that are healthy and medically sound (see disclaimer) and see if you can make a healthy, lifestyle change. If you want help, just email me 🙂

Remember small changes that you can fit into your lifestyle are better than huge changes that you will only keep for a week.

References:

Huhn, R. (2007). Linda crane lecture:Improving the health of society, one individual at a time. Cardiopulmonary physical therapy Journal. Volume 18: 2.

Jacobs, N. N., Clays, E. E., De Bacquer, ,. D., De Backer, ,. G., Dendale, P. P., Thijs, H. H., & … Claes, N. N. (2011). Effect of a tailored behavior change program on a composite lifestyle change score: a randomized controlled trial. Health Education Research, 26(5), 886-895. doi:10.1093/her/cyr046

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7 thoughts on “Lifestyle Change or Diet is a 4 Letter Word

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