NEW HABITS FOR HEALTH
Most of us have an unhealthy habit or two that we want to change, but we don't always know how to. Whether you want to change your exercise level, your diet, the ways you handle stress or any other habit, there are tools that can help. A self-contract, records, substitute behaviour and rewards help you unlearn unhealthy habits and start living the wellness way.Make a Contract
Think of your plan for change as a commitment to yourself. Put your commitment in writing by developing a self-contract. A contract helps you define goals and outline steps to reach them. First, write down what it is you want to change. If you want to change several habits, pick the one most important to you and concentrate on that, first.
Then decide on realistic steps to help you reach your goal. For example, if you want to get more exercise and have decided to start a running programme, don't set your sights on winning next week's marathon. Instead, start gradually and safely and work your way up - walk before you run. In other words, take it one step at a time.Keep Records
Records help you recognise your habits. If you're trying to lose weight, record everything you eat for a week. Note what, where, why, when and how many calories you eat. Records also chart your progress. If you want to improve your exercise level, get regular aerobic exercise (running, walking etc.) at least 3-5 times a week. Each time, try to reach and maintain your target heart rate for at least 20 minutes.Substitute Behaviour
Once you know your patterns, you can substitute new, healthier behaviours for old, unhealthy ones. If diet and weight control are your problems and you often "grab a bite" to eat at your desk, try to get out and enjoy your lunch break an switch to low-fat, low-calorie foods. If you're an armchair athlete who needs to get more exercise, why not turn off the television set and try to start a game of your own?Reward Yourself
Perhaps the most important aspect of successful behaviour change is recognising and rewarding your accomplishments. The realisation that you've been able to meet your goals is actually a reward in itself. But don't forget to take the time to do something special to recognise a job well done.
Congratulate yourself - you did it. Celebrate by buying yourself a special gift - that bicycle you've always wanted, the new dress you've been dying to buy (in your new size!), or anything that means a lot to you. Whatever your reward, make it something out-of-the-ordinary. Enjoy your success. You deserve it!Your Checklist for Change
The following lifestyle choices can be harmful to your health. Check off each unhealthy habit that you would like to change. Then rank which habit you'd like to change first, second and so on. Finally start your programme for change with a self-contract to confirm your commitment!
I eat a high-fat, low-fibre diet
I don't exercise regularly
I can't seem to manage stressful situations
I smoke cigarettes
I don't use alcohol and other drugs wiselyLive the Good Life
We all have different images of the good life - in fact, it's as individual as each one of us. For one person, it's a more vigorous lifestyle. For another, it's maintaining one's ideal weight. For someone else, it may mean a life free from cigarette smoking. But maybe the "good life" is simply caring enough about ourselves and our loved ones to change unhealthy habits and give ourselves a new lease on life - the wellness way.