Win with Wellness Success Strategies:
1) Challenge and reframe thoughts that impede wellness, including thoughts about exercise, weight loss & healthy eating, doctors, sleep, etc.
- Myth: I should lose weight before I start exercising.
- Truth: It is unneccesary to lose weight before exercing. For example, even those with extremely limited mobility or balance can exercise from a chair.
- Myth: The pain will go away on its own.
- Truth: It is true that some pains will go away on its own. Yet, sometimes pain signals that your body needs medical and other attention. Other times pain indicates that you need to move, stretch and strengthen your body.
- Myth: If I cannot exercise four days a week, I should not bother.
- Truth: Exercise physiology research indicates that exercising twice a week is beneficial to one’s health.
People often quit their program because they only have short-term goals, have dichotomous thinking, and are inflexible and unforgiving if they make a mistake. Unfortunately, in my experience, many well-intentioned wellness programs reinforce dichotomous thinking.
2) Identify tangible challenges to wellness. Learn to overcome real and perceived obstacles and “failures”. Think of wellness as a lifelong commitment and that overcoming obstacles is part of the journey.
Create and execute behavioral solutions, which are often found in the gray area or outside the box.
- If you eat an unhealthy meal, get back on program the next meal.
- If you normally exercise 4 days per week and can exercise twice, do so & go back to 4 days of exercise next week.
- If you usually run but are not feeling up to it, go for a walk.
- If you know you won’t have time to exercise, skip dessert.
- Ask the restaurant server to pack half your meal in a to-go box instead of serving it to you.
3) Learn to integrate basic wellness activities into your daily life, including things that are not time consuming:
- Deep breathing.
- Visualization. Imagine yourself calm, peaceful, and well.
- Stretching exercises that can be done at your desk at work.
- Body awareness (e.g., having a calendar reminder to stand up and stretch or check your posture pop up on your computer or phone).
- Energy management (e.g., taking periodic short breaks).
- Exposing yourself to 10 minutes of sunlight per day.
- Making the best choice, even when choices are limited.
For example: eating a small snack versus nothing and choosing pretzels versus potato chips from the vending machine.
Understand the “slight edge” (a concept coined by author Jeff Olson) and use it in your daily life.
- If you don’t exercise today or tomorrow, it will not harm you. Yet, if you don’t exercise over your lifetime, it will be harmful to your health. Like money, the impact of wellness, compounds.
- Author Steven Covey’s distinction between urgent and important can also helpful. Many wellness basics are not urgent but are extremely important. Unfortunately, the urgent often pushes out the important unless people are aware of and manage this problem.
4) Understand that wellness activities can be planned and connect planning to success (just like in the business arena). For example, plan nutritious meals & snacks & exercise:
- Eating well while eating on the run (e.g., best fast food choices; eating at the airport).
- Making healthy choices while eating in restaurants or take-out.• Exercising while on the road / staying in hotels.
- Look at restaurant menus before choosing a restaurant.
- Use the many phone apps available to arm yourself with recipes, restaurant menus, and meal planning.
5) Facilitate a wellness culture for your workplace and organization: (e.g., expectations, programs, physical plant, etc.)
- Does the cafeteria have healthy food choices?
- Are people expected to work through lunch and dinner?
- Is there a water cooler in the office?
- How would people feel about the donuts being placed in the kitchen versus the conference room?
- Is the furniture ergonomically correct?
- Is there a gym in the facility?
- How many hours are people expected to work?
- Are people encouraged to work although they are ill?
- Is business frequently conducted at a bar and if so, are people expected to consume alcohol?
- Would employees prefer if sales representatives brought non-food items when they visit the office?
- Is work-life balanced valued?
- Is it feasible to have a balanced life and still be successful in this environment?
6) Better manage stress:
- Identifying symptoms of job stress
- Identifying sources of your job stress
- Identifying how you respond to specific job stressors
- Setting goals to respond more effectively to job stressors
- Creating rewards for every goal you establish
- Changing your thinking
- Pacing yourself at work
- Manage social pressures to eat and drink alcohol at work functions
7) Maintain motivation for lifestyle change and create a strategic wellness plan – On a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly,
yearly, and lifetime basis:
- Setting goals for wellness and connecting goals to things that are uniquely important (e.g., having energy to play with one’s grandchildren); being more fit before a school reunion; beating breast cancer).
- Identifying and tracking specific and measurable behaviors: For example: drinking 5 glasses of water daily, sleeping 7 hours per night, only smoking 1/4 pack of cigarettes versus a ½ pack , losing 2 pounds per week .
- Setting up an accountability relationship (e.g., trusted co-worker, wellness coach, trainer, weight loss group).
- Creating a reward for achieving wellness goals (e.g., new outfit, trip to the beach, new piece of jewelry or accessory).
By Lisa Correa