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Real Life Wellness: Make a new lifestyle work for you

By Bill Hemmer
Last week I talked about making your bed. In other words, how to prepare yourself to make a lifestyle change and be able to sustain it. The ability to sustain lifestyle changes is the most common problem I see when people are trying to become well. They don’t prepare themselves properly.

I have made this same mistake myself many times. I have started many diet or fitness routines because they looked good on paper, but I didn’t think through the consequences of my decisions. So, it wasn’t long before I encountered some problem that made me have trouble keeping my new commitments. The fight was on. Do I keep my new commitment, or do I fall back into my old habits and lifestyles? I bet you can guess which side won!

This was before I learned about preparing myself properly. To truly make your bed you must consider every different problem or situation that you will encounter BEFORE you commit. In other words, you have to preplan as many different situations and activities as you can think of. Because if you have options available that are fun, constructive and reasonable you have a very good chance of following your new wellness path. If you don’t, you know what will happen.

So how do you prepare? I have used three separate approaches to get people ready. The first is doing a time management exercise. The second is doing a pro/con list for each area of your life you want to change. And the third is to research and recommend different resources that will be helpful to each individual on their wellness journey.

Time management is huge. I will spend a whole article talking about time management because it truly makes or breaks many people’s lives. How much time do you waste each day? What might be a waste of time for you might be extremely important for somebody else. What activities do you accomplish simply in the morning that you can’t even think about doing in the afternoon? When is your low energy time during the day? How can you compress your time to make yourself more productive? A time management survey will help you answer all of these questions.

A pro and con list is also extremely important. You should make a pro and con list for every behavior you want to change. Everybody I have had do this had no problems coming up with the pros, but had extreme difficulty coming up with the cons. What I mean by the cons is things you do now that shoots yourself in the foot when you’re trying to change. Things like still driving-through a fast food place or going down the dessert aisle at the grocery store. The cons are the things you do that make you fall off the wagon, so to speak.

Finally, everybody needs resources to keep a new behavior going. Some people need groups to talk to. Other people need specific magazines or books to look at, other people need checklists and specific recipes to use. Everybody needs support and stability in one way or another. Your family, friends, co-workers and wellness providers must all work together to make your new wellness lifestyle a reality.

Next week I am going to talk in greater depth about time management. This is a subject that no one likes to talk about, but it is the make it or break it component in just about every aspect of our lives.

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