human growth hormone

Anti-aging Strategies. Lifestyle Changes

In future installments, this section will give specific advice on how to plan for and initiate change relating to a specific topic. Today we will discuss what motivates us, in general, toward changing an unhealthy habit or behavior, and what steps will help ensure we succeed in making those changes.

All of us can reflect on a time when we made an intentional change in our lives. Maybe you changed your opinion about a certain politician, or found a better way to get to work. Maybe you decided to make more time to be with your family. Whatever the change, you did two things: you identified a need for change and you took the steps necessary to implement the change. Change is seldom easy but take heart; you have changed things in and about your life in the past. Change is not impossible.

Each of us changes for different reasons. For example, have you ever had the habit of hitting the snooze button on your alarm to get those few extra minutes of sleep, making all kinds of “deals” with yourself along the way, like, “I can sleep 10 extra minutes because I’ll skip breakfast.” Before you know it, you’ve hit it one too many times and you’re late for work…..again. Your boss has to reprimand you for your consistent tardiness. You decide to trash your alarm clock and purchase one without a snooze button. What was your motivation for change? Was it fear of losing your job? Were you afraid of losing the respect of your boss?

If you are thinking about changing an unhealthy lifestyle behavior, you will evaluate your reasons for change in the same way. You might decide to quit smoking because you hate the glaring looks you get when you smoke in public, or the way your clothes and home smell like a dirty ash tray. You might decide to finally see your doctor for a long-overdue mammogram after a close friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer. These “alarms” make us stop and think about a harmful habit or lifestyle choice and can motivate us to do something about it.

Whatever the initial motivation, however, successful change can only occur when you make the decision to change. Everyone around you can say, “You’ve got to stop drinking so much…we’re so worried about your health,” but until you feel that inner pull to change, you won’t. You can only make a change in your life when it is truly for you–not for someone else. Only you can make the final decision to change–or not.

How many times have you said to yourself, “I will start my diet on MONDAY” or “This is DEFINITELY my last cigarette?” We have all made ill-fated promises to ourselves at one time or another. We may have even said them out loud to our family or friends and thought, “‘This time, I’m really going to do it.” The main reason behind the failure of these sort of spur-of-the-moment promises to ourselves is that they were just that–spur-of-the-moment. You didn’t really stop to think about your decision before you made it; it just sounded like it was a good time to say “I’ll start my diet on Monday” because it was Friday and you were sitting in front of a pizza deluxe.

Once you have made the decision to change you need a clear plan and support along the way. The following are some guidelines that will help you succeed in your plan to change.

(1) Set realistic, gradual goals. Don’t convince yourself that you can lose 20 pounds by spring if it’s already Groundhog’s Day. Setting unrealistic, unattainable goals will only cause discouragement and invite opportunities to give up. Set smaller goals on your way to achieving your overall goal.

>(2) Visualize yourself in your desired state. Picture yourself achieving your overall goal and how much better you’ll feel about yourself. Repeat the visualization many times to help keep you motivated to change

(3) Reward yourself appropriately. Provide yourself with appropriate incentives each time you reach one of your small goals. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage, a weekend get-away or an afternoon in the park. But keep your rewards appropriate; don’t treat yourself to ice cream if you are trying to lose weight!

(4) Surround yourself with support. Tell your family and friends of your goals for change and ask for their encouragement.

(5) Avoid places or people associated with what you want to change. If you and a few co-workers habitually took a cigarette break at 10 am everyday, tell them that you have decided to quit and fill that time slot with a new activity, like a brisk walk around the block.

Columnist Jackie Greer once said, “You don’t have to be afraid of change. You don’t have to worry about what’s been taken away. Just look to see what’s been added.” Thinking ahead to how your health will be for the better will help you achieve your wellness goals. When you succeed in making healthy lifestyle changes what you’ll add is more years of healthier, happier life.

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