June 18, 2020 / By Molina Healthcare
You know exercising and eating healthy are good for you. You may also be aware that they can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke — which are among the top causes of death for men in the US.1 No doubt, you also understand that quitting habits like drinking too much alcohol, vaping or smoking helps too.
Now all you have to do is stop the unhealthy behaviors and adopt the helpful ones. Easy, right?
Actually, you really can simplify the process if you start small. There’s a reason people say slow and steady wins the race: if you try to cover too much ground too fast, you’ll burn out.
So don’t do that! Instead start with little steps like the ones below, and you’re far more likely to build strength and endurance.
1. Write down WHY you want to improve your health.
In addition to avoiding medical issues, getting healthier can help you lower depression, enjoy deeper sleep, be a better partner and parent, look great at the beach, save on medical bills and enjoy more energy, among many other benefits.
Why write it down? Because any time you consider throwing in the towel, reading your reasons for doing it can help you keep going.
2. Set achievable goals and time commitments.
3. Reward yourself early and often.
According to recent research, people who are quickly and frequently rewarded for tasks are more interested in doing the work—and enjoy it more. Additionally, the motivation for following through sticks with them, even after the rewards are removed.
So go ahead and reward yourself for shooting hoops or going for a run or skipping fatty foods or drinks. Maybe enjoy a guilt-free smoothie or an extra episode of your favorite show. After all, the healthy behavior really is more of a reward for you, especially long-term.
4. Be kind to yourself.
It’s not exactly an easy time to be a human. So recognize that skipping a workout, overeating and other pitfalls are as natural as your favorite team losing a game. That’s life! Beating yourself up won’t help. In fact, it might become an excuse to quit. Don’t fall for it!
If you mess up once, just go back to your healthy habits as soon as you can. Be your own fan. Stay loyal to yourself! You wouldn’t walk away from your team after a mistake or two, right? All you can do is your best. Maybe next time out, you’ll crush it.
1. Leading causes of death — Males — All races and origins — United States, 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/lcod/men/2017/all-races-origins/index.html
2. It's About Time: Earlier Rewards Increase Intrinsic Motivation by Kaitlin Woolley, Cornell University and Ayelet Fishbach, University of Chicago. Published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 114(6):877-890 • June 2018