What would you do if your doctor said that you would most likely die in the next few years if you didn’t change your health habits? Most of us believe that we could change if our lives were on the line. But the sobering reality is that nine out of ten people just can’t make the changes that can save their lives. A book titled “Change or Die” by Alan Deutschman offers up a number of studies that prove this reality. But the book also explores what works and this is what today’s blog is about.
First, three things that don’t work are facts, fear and force. For example, if an individual with extremely high blood pressure hears that he has a 500% higher risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next five years unless he loses weight and stops smoking, he will most likely join the 9 out of 10 individuals who fail to make the necessary lifestyle changes. It’s much easier to live in a state of denial than face the prospect of death.
Now let’s look at three concepts that do work. The concepts are “relate, repeat and reframe”. To relate, a patient needs to develop a new relationship with an individual or group that supports the change. This is when a good personal trainer, wellness coach, nutritionist, support group or group exercise instructor can be worth their weight in gold. To repeat, the new “relationship” must inspire the individual to keep going until the change becomes habit. We had a cardiac rehab class in my prior job and all of the participants became extremely close friends. The social support was so positive that the participants would come out in a snowstorm to avoid missing a class. To reframe, the new relationship should enable the individual to view life from a “new” lens. For example, the individual who once hated exercise might find new joy in movement. The individual who lived on junk food may find new joy in cooking.
Takeaway: By now, most people are familiar with SparkPeople, Weight Watchers and similar support groups. But here are a few more ideas for groups that can make healthy change fun.
- Go to www.meetup.com and select “fitness.” I found everything from an underwater hockey club to yoga groups to a beer runner’s club.
- Try www.americancanoe.org and look under paddling clubs for canoe, kayak and whitewater paddling clubs in your area.
- Try www.wellcoaches.com and select “Find a Wellness Coach” for personalized support.