Washington, June 29 : Started a diet program, followed it religiously for 2 weeks and on the start of the third week, hell broke lose and you were again on the same track - binging on pizzas and colas.
Such a scenario is pretty much relatable to almost everyone. It's a classic health trap: two steps forward, three steps back. People end up feeling bad about themselves. Moreover, the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back dance ends up increasing the health problems the behavioral changes were supposed to address in the first place.
Now, motivation expert Michael Vallis, health psychologist with Capital Health and professor of psychiatry and psychology at Dalhousie University, has come to your rescue to help you reach your goal.
According to Vallis, people who're concerned about their health can not only start a new behavior but continue it if they're honest and realistic about their motivation.
"People really need to identify personal and meaningful motivations," says Dr. Vallis, 53, a father of three children.
"What's going to keep you going when it gets hard?" (Some questions to ask yourself: Do you think your behaviour is a problem? How distressed are you about your behaviour? Are you interested in doing anything to change this behaviour? Are you ready to take action now?)
"Next, the person has to change their behavior by laying out 'smart, specific goals'," he added.
The third part of making change stick is to recognize the role emotion plays in your health and coming up with strategies to cope without resorting to destructive behavior, for example, eating when you're feeling down, or lighting up a cigarette when you're in a social situation, says the expert.
"Stress is what is going to knock people off the best-laid plans. All these unhealthy things-eating the whole carton of ice cream, drinking, smoking-are ways of medicating anxieties," says Dr. Vallis.