Change is hard! Whether it is an organizational change that needs to occur in your work, a change in your personal or family life or a change in your behavior to achieve a healthier you – you may face resistance.
Resistance is defined as “anything that slows or stops movement or keeps movement from happening.” When it comes to changing your behavior to live a healthier life – there will be people, places, things, feelings and emotions that will slow or stop movement from happening. Can you do anything about it? Absolutely! Acknowledging the reasons for resistance and addressing them will help you get the movement towards change you desire.
1. Notice your objections.
I don’t have time. Time is the number one reason people claim they do not make some of the healthy behaviors they desire – meal planning and cooking to eat well, exercising, getting adequate sleep. What is the real cause for this objection? How can you make changes to your schedule or your focus so time becomes available for healthy choices?
It won’t make any difference. What the absolute outcome of a change may be cannot be known with certainty. There is plenty of research to support that eating well, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep is good for your health. But for you personally, do you feel confident that making a change is going to improve your health or reach other health goals you may have? Spend some time thinking about the benefits you will attain from the change you would like to make. Then decide what habits need to be put in place to allow that change to happen.
I have tried to change before and have failed. Of course if you have made similar efforts in the past, it is easy to think this will be just another failed attempt. Reframe the past attempts. Recognize what was different then from where you are now.
2. Identify what’s in it for you.
Not developing heart disease may be what’s in it for you, but that may be too far away to grasp. Consider what shorter-term benefits there may be from the change. Am I going to feel better? Will I have more energy? Will I look better? Am I going to be able to wear the clothes I haven’t worn in ages?
3. Accept that you will have an emotional reaction to change.
It is normal to feel emotional about making changes to your behavior. It may mean a change to your social life? Perhaps there will be people in your life who don’t support the changes you desire to make. You may have to give up something you enjoy doing so you can make more time for adequate sleep or regular exercise. Pretending that these changes will not bring up emotions is counterproductive. Start by acknowledging the emotion, accepting it and working through it rather than avoiding it.
4. Prepare the best you can.
Change that leads to great health and improved wellbeing will not happen overnight. Start by taking one step to create an environment that will make change easier. Set aside a time in your schedule for taking a first step. Consider starting a Pinterest board and start posting recipes that appeal to you, or talking with a friend about activities that you can do together that will help you reach your goals.
5. Connect the change to the analytical and emotional portions of your brain.
You may think logically that the change is good – reduced risk of heart disease, Diabetes, or weight loss. But there is the emotional part of the brain to consider as well. How will your improved health make you feel? Will greater energy allow you to feel happier in your family life?
When you know change in your lifestyle is necessary to achieve your best health, address your resistance to change. When you can first identify your resistance and take action to overcome those barriers you will be closer to the healthy lifestyle you desire.
Lynda Binius Enright, MS, RDN, LD, CLT
Be Well Nutritional Consulting
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