Updated: Jan 24
We can all be overwhelmed when it comes to making changes that improve our health and wellbeing. What to focus on? What do I need to do most? Is low carb or low fat right for me? Should I do high intensity workouts or walk more?
With the explosion of information online and in social media, the calls on our time to do this exercise or use this superfood or ingredient (organic, grass-fed, free from additives etc) obscure the most important thing for your health. Begin something.
"The best exercise for you is the one you will do"
Let's start with an example from the world of exercise. We might hear about only needing to exercise just 10 minutes a day if we use a particular type of high intensity exercise. Or that if we exercise in the morning then we will burn more calories than in the evening. What nobody tells you is that these differences that are being talked about are minimal. The biggest change in health status is between doing no exercise to doing something, even if it's just 10 minutes a day. So even if you never got to the magic 30 minutes a day, you are gaining a greater benefit just by doing something.
The positive feedback of "doing something"
Another reason for focusing on 'doing something' is the concept of 'Behavioural Activation'. This has been used by psychologists for many years and refers to the idea that we don't spend ages trying to find the motivation to do something, but to get motivation from actually doing something even if it's a smaller amount. It's often used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and useful within the treatment of depression. That's because people with depression tend to reduce activities that would give them positive emotions and by increasing those activities they can begin to feel the emotions they've lost. So whether it's making time to see friends that you haven't seen for a while, going for a walk in nature or trying a new food, each of those behaviours can be the springboard for a change in your life.
Start small and aim for sustained change
BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, advises when faced with complexity or when paralysed by the scale of a task, that we 'go tiny'. What this means is to break the task down to it's most simple steps and do those no matter how small. Here the focus is on the development of a habit that becomes automatic as you repeat it. He gives the example of doing one push up a day, then two, until you find you can do 10 or 20. The point is that the effort at the beginning of the process is to work out how you will remind yourself to do this small thing every day. Once that pattern is set then you will automatically increase your behaviours
Set a vision for yourself
All of this talk about habits seems to suggest that we don't need to motivate ourselves. That's not the case. It's just that we can't rely on motivation everyday. What we do need to do is to remind ourselves what change is for and set a vision at the beginning of where you want to be and define a vision for yourself. Defining the best version of yourself is the "why" for your activities.
Make a Choice
In the Life Age test, there are a number of areas within our life that the assessment looks at. These include diet, activity, alcohol, social connections, activities that give meaning and others. By doing this, Life Age can help you prioritise what to change and where to focus. Our Younger Living habit tracker then helps you concentrate on just a few habits to make changes to over time. You can make them as big or as small as you like. Momentum comes with starting small, sustaining these changes and building on your success.