By Jackie Thurlow who is from the area and has a Bachelors of Science in Community Health Education and within the next year will be receiving her minor in Nonprofit Leadership. Over the fall semester of her final year in her program, Jackie interned for Crow Wing Energized and became certified as a lifestyle coach for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). She now is the Coordinator for the NDPP classes within the central region for Essentia Health and works as a community health specialist for Crow Wing Energized.
I cannot believe it but the end of the 16-weeks of Your Energized Year Lifestyle Change Challenge is here! Over the course of the last couple months you have heard from many different professionals over a variety of topics whether it was about healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, problem solving, or even making mistakes. As I always tell my participants: these components are what truly make-up a lifestyle change. All components focus on the body and the mind, because we need to have a healthy balance of both for everything to work together. Now, you have the keys to success and should be set for life. The problem is—this is easier said than done.
It’s not always easy maintaining certain parts to an overall lifestyle change. One slip can easily send you spiraling back into old habits and eventually reverse all of the hard work that you have invested into yourself. Behaviors are never something that are easy to change because it took years to formulate those old, unhealthy habits. But, now you are in the beginning stages of discovering how to better take care of yourself. For those in the Your Energized Year program you have had a weekly lifestyle coach there to guide you through any tough times, however soon you will be on your own. I promise the end of the world isn’t coming just because the classes are monthly. Instead think of it as another step towards an independent, healthy lifestyle.
There are a variety of ways to stay motivated:
- Focus on is being aware of and recognizing accomplishments. Whether those accomplishments are big or small they are still something that had to be worked on and overcame in order to make a change. This can be as simple as the fact that you were able to increase your vegetable consumption, or that you now go for walks four-days a week. These simple changes really add up to affect the big picture of a lifestyle change. If this becomes too difficult to always remind yourself to celebrate your successes, make something visual for you to remind yourself every day. For the participants in the classes they have a graph where they had charted their weights throughout the course over the program. This is a great example of a visual cue that can stimulate the good feeling of success and could easily be placed on the fridge as a daily reminder. Otherwise, everyone loves the classic “before and after” pictures. Taking a photo from before beginning to make lifestyle changes and having that on the fridge or on your mirror is an excellent reminder of the progress you have made.
- Continue to use the tracker for food and activity. Although this tool can be time consuming sometimes, it can also be a reality check for many. By having something to constantly write down what you are eating and what you are doing physically can personally hold you accountable. Sometimes we will go blind to what is reality and what we think we are doing is correct. I have heard way too often from participants the harsh reality that they are eating too many calories in a day, or they are not even getting a single vegetable in their day. Accountability is the key here.
- Change things up. Having grilled chicken and steamed broccoli every night may not be the most enjoyable thing and it can easily make you want to steer away from healthy choices. By adding variety into your diet and physical activity it can make life more exciting and enjoyable as you are making the healthy choice. Perhaps you decide to try a new workout class or you want to try a strange new vegetable at the farmers market. Regardless of what you pick—trying something new will make yourself move out of your comfortable zone and make things exciting.
- Celebrate in a healthy way. We as Midwesterner’s highly believe in the reward method of celebrating with food. However, there are a variety of ways to celebrate that are “non-food” rewards. For example: treating yourself to a manicure, going to a game, taking a bubble bath, and taking time for yourself. They don’t have to be huge, but it can be something that you have always wanted to have time for.
- Finally, find a cheerleader. Just as I stated two-weeks ago in my article about social cues, people can make a huge influence on your choices in life. They can act as a reminder of how to act or eat. It’s these individuals who can be your “cheerleaders” in life and push you to continue what you are doing and support you in the small ways to work towards overall success.