If you began a new health regimen last year, how did you do over the holidays? If you slipped, don’t despair. Staying motivated is difficult and only about 10 per cent of people can do it on their own. It’s not too late to get right back on the wagon – maybe you’ve even made a New Year’s resolution to get healthier this year. Breaking old patterns is difficult and I want to share some tips to help you stick with your plans.
Find a support system.
I know that MTHFR issues can be particularly challenging to deal with because it’s difficult to find validation. Many doctors are refusing to acknowledge its significance and without widespread knowledge of the impacts on health, it seems easy for others to dismiss your concerns. Over the holidays one family member took the time to tell me about how new studies had shown that taking vitamins, minerals and supplements was ineffective. A couple of studies come out and the media has a field day with the information, of course. And somehow the person justified that this information applied to my situation. This was definitely not something I needed to listen to.
You need people around you who are focused on similar health goals and who are dealing with comparable problems. If you can’t find them among your family and friends consider joining a local support group for your particular health condition or join an online community where you can discuss your feelings and challenges openly and without judgment. There are some great suggestions on the resources page of this site. You’ll likely need to involve your entire household in the process, which will involve educating and creating a plan. Getting everyone on board will make things easier on you and, in the end, ensure success.
You’ll also want to be sure that you have a good doctor to help you on your way. I hope that 2014 will be the year that you find a practitioner to be your partner on the road to better health. Try these suggestions to find one in your area.
Visualize a new you.
Some of the lifestyle changes discussed on this blog will require a complete 180 degree transformation. In a way, you have to almost forget the old you and begin again. It’s difficult to break programming and accept that we live in a sick society. Taking the convenient and mainstream approach will almost always land you in an unhealthy situation. You have to discard old habits and create new ones. Talk about mind over matter! Make a ritual of it if you have to. Imagine the new you – vibrant, healthy and thriving. Compare it to the old you who was struggling and lacking the information necessary to make changes. That person no longer exists. Discard anything in your environment that might trigger old behaviors. Some examples might be takeaway menus from unhealthy restaurants, old personal care products that contain harmful ingredients, magazines that don’t support a healthy lifestyle and doctors who you know haven’t given you the best treatment. Be aspirational and join health-minded groups. Start frequenting your local farmer’s market or sign-up for an organic delivery service. Take little steps every day in the direction you want to go.
Outline your goals.
It helps to be specific about what you want to achieve. Make a list of everything you want to do this year and then arrange it in order of importance. Work on your list little by little each week. Sometimes when we have a grand plan it can seem overwhelming in the beginning. Breaking things up into specific objectives and working at the smaller pieces one by one can be much more manageable.
Make a commitment to someone.
It’s very easy to fob off promises to yourself. Disappointing a loved one is a lot more difficult. Whatever you’re working at, say it out loud to someone you care about and pledge to seeing your goals through. You’ll probably think twice about disappointing him or her.
Change your definitions.
Negative habits are often hard-wired into our brains by the meanings we assign to the objects or activities at their heart. If you associate junk food with being a treat or reward, for example, it will be difficult to give it up. Assign new meanings to the things you struggle with and you will eventually start to think of them differently.
Sometimes we forget why we are doing things and this makes it tough to stick with a new diet or lifestyle. Take some time to think about what is most important in your life. Think about these items in broad terms. My hierarchy, for example, begins with family and health. This makes it pretty easy for me to stick to my goals of clean, healthy living. If you find that your priorities are getting in the way of your healthy lifestyle goals you may want to first work on integrating your goals and overcoming the roadblocks that are preventing you from being successful in your objectives.
Constantly educate yourself.
Health information is coming at us fast and hard these days, with new data emerging all the time. New materials and products are also emerging constantly and it can be difficult to stay abreast of all the information that’s relevant to you. I always find it helpful to surround myself with information about a situation I’m facing. You’ll feel better about the steps you’re taking if you know you always have the latest information and it’s always fun to learn new things.
Collect recipes and plan menus.
Food and diets can be such a challenge, especially if yours is a little unconventional. I find it stressful to deal with food, especially because I often have to go way out of my way to eat healthy (and stress is never good!) Search online or in cookbooks for recipes that your family will enjoy that also satisfy your dietary requirements and keep a file. Plan your menu and grocery list each week so you know what you’re eating and when. This makes it easier to stick to a plan and helps you avoid that dreaded ‘I’m home from work, exhausted and have no idea what to cook’ feeling.
Do you struggle with your healthy lifestyle regimen or are you having success? What have been your experiences and strategies for success?