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Are You Ready for Healthy Lifestyle Change

The following question is about questions and answers about how ready you are to undergo lifestyle changes for your health. Respond with a yes or no to each of the following statements:
  • I understand that changing health habits requires a significant amount of time, energy, and effort.
  • I have evaluated past attempts to change these habits and know what works and what doesn’t work for me.
  • I realize that changing health habits can be a significant source of stress, and I am willing to tolerate and manage that stress.
  • I have or am willing to create a “network” of supportive people to help me change my lifestyle.
  • I am willing to try new foods and activities to reach my goals.
  • I am willing to forego immediate weight loss to learn to change my habits for the long haul.
  • I understand that healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes and that thin does not necessarily equal healthy, just as fat doesn’t automatically mean unhealthy.
  • I am making these changes for myself, not for someone else or for a special upcoming event.
  • I know that changing my habits is a process, and that I will likely have some setbacks along the way.
  • I rarely eat so much that I feel nauseous, and I do not engage in excessive exercise, purging, or fasting to control my weight.
 Evaluating your responses 

“Yes” responses indicate that you have reasonable expectations and are more likely to be ready to make changes in your eating and activity habits.

“No” responses indicate that you might need to give one or more areas some attention before plunging into lifestyle changes. Read the following explanations to get a better understanding of what to expect and how you might move forward.

The following list provides some direction with respect to each of the statements, which can help you move forward:
  • If the structure or pace of your life at the moment prevents you from devoting extra time and energy to lifestyle change, evaluate whether you can stream- line activities or responsibilities. How flexible is your work schedule? Is some- one willing to care for your children so you can exercise? Can you delegate responsibilities around the house to free up a little time to plan meals and create grocery lists?
  • Take a long, hard look at previous attempts to change your weight, your habits, or both. Were your expectations realistic? Did you try to do too much, too soon? What were the specific challenges you encountered? Have you resolved some of those challenges, or do you have a different way of han- dling them?
  • If the thought of adding one more thing to your plate is enough to make you cringe, think twice about jumping into lifestyle change. What are some of the sources of stress in your life? Caring for an aging relative; changing locations, jobs, or careers; a shift in your role in the family; getting married; significant debt; personal illness; pregnancy; strained relationships—all these situations place demands on your entire person. If it’s necessary, delay making changes in eating and exercise habits until you get a handle on other important life situations. You are the only person who can determine whether lifestyle change is feasible at this time.
  • If you haven’t already, start considering those individuals or groups who can provide the support and encouragement you will need to be successful. (See the section “Your Safety Net: Build Your Support System,” in Chapter 2 for more information.)'
  • It seems obvious, but if you want to change your health, you’re going to have to expand your food and activity horizons. If you’re totally averse to experi- menting with new foods, ask yourself how you can become a little more adventurous: Choose a new fruit each week, or check out some recipes that look interesting. Expect a little discomfort when increasing your activity level. Discomfort means that you are challenging your body in new ways; pain means you’ve pushed it too far—understand the difference!
  • Far too many of us seek weight loss at any cost. Trendy diets, excessive exer- cise, fasting, and dangerous supplements can produce weight loss but don’t necessarily improve your health! Changing your daily eating and activity habits, though sometimes arduous and almost always unglamorous, is the only safe, effective method for achieving a healthier body.
  • Each of us was created with a unique genetic code that largely determines our body shape and, to a certain degree, body weight. Have you heard of the “apple” and “pear” shapes in describing bodies? “Apples” tend to store body fat in their stomach, chest, back, and upper body regions, whereas “pears” are more likely to carry fat in their hips, buttocks, and thighs. If you were born an apple, you might become a smaller apple through proper nutrition and exercise, but you will still be an apple! What’s more, it’s possible to be considered “overweight” by charts and standard definitions but still be in excellent  health.  Focus  on  changing  behavior  instead  of  changing  numbers to keep things in perspective.
  • Lifestyle change comes from the inside out. If you feel pressured into this change, even by a well-meaning friend or loved one, it will not work. Period. Similarly, if your main impetus for change is an upcoming wedding, class reunion, or other special event, it is unlikely you will be able to maintain motivation for the long haul.
  • Lapses are a natural part of the process of change. The successful person takes them for what they are—temporary setbacks that have the potential to be powerful learning tools. Learn to see them as your own per- sonal “scientific experiments.” Observe what happened instead of judging it. Evaluate what you can do differently the next time. (More to come in the sections “Managing Lapses” and “Learning from Lapses” in Chapter 2.)
  • These behaviors can indicate serious prob- lems that might require professional atten- tion. Discuss your concerns with a trusted friend, family member, clergy member, ther- apist, or physician before proceeding.
Notice for above description : So you’re not ready to commit the time and energy it takes to changing health habits? Okay! Take care of higher priority items first, and come back when you’re ready, or read the book through and treat it as an exercise in gather- ing information. This is perfectly acceptable!
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