HEALTH COACH RESEARCH RESULTS EDITORIAL

It is the unknown outcome that makes the first step 
seem difficult



The Rewards of Health are Certain



1. Get it right in your head first. Health is a deliberate, conscious choice. That is the only way it works. First it must be valued and then it has to be made a priority. The more clarity you have about your motivations to be healthy, the more fuel you will have available for your resolutions. 

Most of the obstacles in our way to changing habit, are phantoms of fear, created by a lack of knowledge, understanding, and experience. The difficulty with changing habit, if you lack experience, is the difficulty of appreciating the rewards of health during the decision-making phase. With experience, you will discover that being healthy is more attractive and more fulfilling. The healthier you become, the more you will be motivated by and able to include these certain rewards to influence and inspire your choices. As your health improves, you will discover that your resolve and capabilities will also flourish. 

I am empowered with the knowledge of how my body functions and what it needs to be healthy. I am encouraged by the power of the human body to be healthy and to heal itself. I am inspired by the desire to see what is possible as I age and to avoid harrowing and invasive medical intervention. I am certain of the rewards of health - they determine and motivate my choices. 


Health is the goal. I am developing a relationship with my health habits that is enjoyable, sustainable and richly rewarding because I understand what my body needs to be healthy and what works for me personally. I appreciate that this is not a static relationship and that my needs will change.



2. Knowledge and understanding increase success. Knowing what your body is made of, and understanding what it needs to be healthy and to function normally, translates to wiser, more effective choices and increase the odds for successful accomplishment of the goal. 

This can also help you understand difficulties or setbacks with your habits. A healthy lifestyle also involves being able to negotiate relapses, compromises, breaks, changes, adjustments, restarts, and continuations.

I have noticed that we frequently do not prepare ourselves when it comes to changing our habits. For most new and unfamiliar undertakings, we would educate and prepare ourselves or we would seek help, if we lacked the know-how or did not feel capable to do it on our own. 

If you were to build a wall for the first time, you would probably consult a How-to manual or a DIY guide. If you skipped the instruction stage, you would not be surprised if you didn't have all the supplies or the tools needed, or if you made a mistake. If your wall falls down because of faulty methods, you would come to an understanding of your error and you would accept responsibility. You would start again and fix it or consult an expert. 

There often is little of this pragmatism and rationale where our health is concerned. And the result is that we are often unprepared,  make poor choices, lack the skill to follow through to successful attainment of the goal, and give up in despair, believing that we lack the ability. We look at other people with healthier habits and assume that it is easy for them. 

People with healthy habits do report that motivation and maintenance of healthy habits becomes less of an issue the longer they have these habits. What really separates people with unhealthy habits from those with healthy habits is a wall of inaccurate thoughts and erroneous ideas. What is also lacking is the know-how.



3. Quality information is important, but practical choices are necessary. Information is knowledge only when you can utilize it. 

My method of health coaching involves identifying and maximizing your strengths, and reducing and eliminating the obstacles on your path to health. My guidance is customized to work for you.

The strategy that I use starts with the eight basic health habits that are learned behaviours and that are essential for health. This supplies a sound foundation for understanding your body and what it needs to be healthy so that you can make informed decisions. This puts the power of your health in your hands.

A Health Coach can help you to navigate past old habits and blind spots and to fast-track your efforts and results for a lifelong, rewarding relationship with your health.

While it is valuable to have accurate and comprehensive information about your body and health, I am most interested in the healthy choices that work, with ease in real life.


Health Coaches will shape the future of healthcare.
- Mark Hyman, MD

Health Coaches provide the information, instruction, and the tools to facilitate behavioural change that leads to the creation and maintenance of health, rather than the suppression of symptom and disease.



There is no pill that will make you healthy


4. No pill, cure, or therapy can replace basic health habits. 
Our body is equipped to maintain health and designed to heal itself. Regarding our personal health care, our primary behaviour should involve the support of these natural functions with the practise of personal hygiene and basic health habits.

As long as we are made of flesh and blood, we are bound by natural laws. If your present system of healthcare is not built on a foundation of understanding and support of the natural functions of your body, then it is a faulty system.



5. The Basic Health Habits are a comprehensive, sustainable system for the maintenance of health and for the prevention of disease.

THE BASIC HEALTH HABITS
1. Sleep
2. Nutrition
3. Water
4. Physical Activity
5. Positive Mental Attitude
6. Breathing
7. Sweating
8. Sunshine
9. Rest and Relaxation
10. Personal Hygiene (dental health is of primary importance).
11. Life Skills (communication, conflict resolution, love and compassion, social responsibility, etc). 



6. All basic health habits are learned behaviours. 
The younger the age that we learn these habits, the more likely they are to be our dependable, and default system, especially in response to unexpected demands and unplanned stress. 

I recommend that you refer to the basic health habits as a stable foundation for building knowledge, understanding, and as a practical guide to your health. From there you can customize and personalize your choices.







7. Healthy habits and unhealthy habits work the same way, with some distinctions. 
The physiological process for unhealthy and healthy habits is identical. The same thing happens in our body whether it is a healthy or unhealthy habit (see The Neurobiology of Habit). 

The process for developing healthy habits is exactly the same repetitive process that occurs when we develop an unhealthy habit and addictions. The perception of difficulty is misleading. Compare it to a road trip. The return home often seems to be shorter than the journey to your destination but it is exactly the same distance. The distinction involves perception.


The difference between the two is that unhealthy habits can alter the body chemically and possibly even structurally in a harmful way while healthy habits promote physiological health and function in a healing way. 



8. Healthy habits are not harder than unhealthy habits. The repetitive process of habit formation is the same for all habit. 

It is true that it is hard to overcome unhealthy habits due to the physiological dysfunction that occurs as a result of the harmful habit. Unhealthy habits can damage our bodies and disrupt normal physiological function. This is the fundamental reason that unhealthy habits have any control and healthy habits seem to have less. 

The process of healthy habit formation is gentler, and promotes health and healing. A gentle health revolution. The rebuilding of health starts the moment that you start improving your basic health habits. A quiet riot. The self-sufficiency of healthy habits is a process that takes some time to become comfortable. 


The best way to overcome unhealthy habits is to increase your basic health habits.



9. It takes less time to be healthy than it does to become unhealthy.
It takes a relatively long time to become unhealthy when you neglect your basic health habits and the good news is that the benefits and rewards of healthy habits are immediate, progressive, and comprehensive.

You must be patient for the body to repair, heal, and rebuild itself. It simply will require time as you increase and continue your basic health habits.
  
The return of health is affected by the degree of ill health, age, disease, physical alteration by surgery and medications, and the effort and dedication devoted to your health.

Keep in mind the benefits and rewards of healthy habits. As your health improves you will discover that your resolve and capabilities will also flourish. There are many gifts and delightful surprises waiting for you and they start the very moment that you start to make healthier choices.






10. Make choices that suit you. 
You will need to develop honesty with yourself to know what suits you, what will work in your life, to make choices you will enjoy, and to be self-supportive. 

Feeling overwhelmed is a sign that I listen to that indicates I'm off track with myself and need to reevaluate or modify my choices, adjust my perspective, and renew my motivations for my health goals. It usually means that I am pressuring myself for results that are not realistic at this time. I respond by taking a step back and doing less or focusing on one goal at a time. I am always learning about myself and what works, with ease, for me. 


I choose yoga because I genuinely enjoy this type of physical activity. I appreciate all the bonuses that yoga gives. Along with deep breathing instruction, and muscle toning and stretching, yoga teaches body awareness, improving body mechanics and structural alignment. Yoga rehabilitates injuries and strains, and relieves stress and increases all types of resilience. Yoga has the ability to reset healthy habits and transform behaviour. I see that I get maximum return for my efforts.



11. We have a social responsibility to be healthy. 
Doing nothing to care for your health is neglectful; cultivating unhealthy habits is self-abusive.



12. Health is the only cure.





A Practical Guide to Healthy Habits 

  • Anyone can transform their habits and lifestyle.
  • The skills required for a healthy, happy, and successful life are all learned behaviours.
  • Health is the goal. I am developing a relationship with my health habits that is enjoyable, sustainable and richly rewarding because I understand what my body needs to be healthy and what works for me personally. I appreciate that this is not a static relationship and that my needs will change.
  • When health is the goal, rather than weight loss or an increase in body size, better choices are made, the health benefits are more comprehensive and sustainable, and include beauty, weight loss, muscle development, and healthy aging.
  • Be honest with yourself about where you're at - what skills you have to work with, obstacles and strengths - and the skills you will need to learn to attain your goal, and how it  all fits in your life.
  • Being honest with yourself also means recognizing your strengths, giving yourself credit for all progress and accomplishments, and rewarding yourself. 
  • Being honest with yourself also means recognizing, acknowledging, and celebrating how good healthy feels.
  • An important part of a healthy lifestyle involves choosing rewards that add to your health - not subtract from it.
  • In regard to unhealthy habits, I recommend moderation, gradual reduction and finally, elimination. An increase of healthy habits is the most effective way to achieve this. When you understand what your body needs to be healthy and to function optimally, this can give you a relationship and power of your physical health that is more effective than self control. Develop a new relationship with your health that is based on knowledge, understanding and effective choices.
  • As you develop healthy habits, your struggles will change and your capabilities will improve.
  • Reduce your stress. When the prefrontal cortex responsible for decision making is overloaded by chronic stress and fatigue - your resolve and best intentions are likely to succumb to emotional desire for instant gratification.
  • Meditation calms the limbic system and the desire for immediate gratification and empowers the prefrontal cortex and our willpower. 
  • Make a detailed plan of goals and priorities. 
  • Make a detailed plan of strategies for coping with barriers, triggers and setbacks. 
  • Plan in advance resources, aids, support, and healthy rewards. 
  • A detailed plan should also include emotional rewards when milestones are reached. This will strongly link changing behaviour to positive emotions and will ease and enhance the process of habit becoming instinctive, automatic and natural. 
  • The more realistic, detailed and specific your goal is, the more likely you will succeed.




  • Habit is overcome by habit.
  • If a goal is repeated daily, it will take approximately 3 weeks to start to become a habit.
  • If your goal is multi-faceted and repeated with less frequency, the longer it will take to become habit because it is easier to forget, there is less repetition and it is a larger commitment - easily engaging our natural avoidance strategies.
  • Installing a new health habit requires: valuing your health, motivation and inspiration, commitment, energy, and it takes time.
  • Start small - get the habit of starting handled - conditioning yourself to new habits - then build.
  • Start with exercise that is gentle like walking, yoga, dancing, swimming or Tai Chi. It will stimulate dopamine, the brain chemical of pleasure and aid in deep breathing, sweating, stress reduction, a more restful sleep , better food and hydration choices and feelings of empowerment. These forms of exercise also affect the brain to help you to maintain your intentions and resolve and to calm emotional desire.
  • Link positive emotions with your new habits. 
  • Read HEALTH COACH basic health habit posts about: sleep, nutrition, physical activity, water, positive mental attitude, breathing and sweating - they will give you specific goals, inspiration and practical tips to help you achieve your goals.
  • Keep in mind the benefits and rewards of healthy habits. As your health improves you will discover that your resolve and capabilities will also flourish. 
  • Get out of your comfort zone and into your courage zone. Learning new physical skills, knowledge, behaviours and habits, new experiences, and self-development all contribute to healthy brain function which has a direct influence on habit-forming behavioural mechanisms.
  • Health is the best happy feeling of all.
  • Have a massage. Massage will create and strengthen the healthy relationship between you and your body and give you the experience of relaxation.
  • Remember: The best things happen when you're relaxed.
  • What To Do If You Miss A Day: Do not despair, panic, or lose control if you do not always meet your commitments, goals, or if you miss a day. A healthy lifestyle also involves being able to negotiate setbacks, compromises, breaks, changes, adjustments, restarts, and continuations. Do not give up on yourself.
  • There are many gifts and delightful surprises waiting for you and they start the very moment that you start to make healthier choices.



Photo + Art Credits

The first step is aways the most difficult: Yves Lecoq

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