Golden Rule #3 for BodyWhealth is NO EXCUSES! We all need help to meet this rule, because it’s hard. Explanations and excuses come quickly. We’re all human, and before long we have a bucketful of reasons why we couldn’t hit 10,000 steps (Golden Rule #1) or didn’t count calories (Golden Rule #2). Here are some ideas that have helped me.
I like to distinguish two helpful forces. The first is Inspiration. This is the fire in your belly that draws or drives you with passion and joy towards your goal. Some coaches and many leaders I know include Fear as a motivator too. It can be very powerful, but I don’t like negative forces. I try to avoid them in my own life, and I certainly won’t teach or advocate for them. In this blog, I will identify 5 ways I inspire others and myself towards BodyWHealth. The second major force is Habit. The mechanical act of repetition is an immensely powerful force. It can be negative (“you’re in a rut”) or positive (“you’re in the zone”). In my next WHealthTech blog we’ll discuss ways you can employ habit to reinforce your BodyWHealth journey.
- Build a hierarchy of reward: I have used this many times myself, and with my patients with great success. First you need to understand what drives you and makes you happy. This is usually easy. Perhaps you like new clothes, going to the theatre, exotic vacations, or quiet evenings with loved ones? If you’re starting your BodyWhealth journey, or re-booting, or turbo-boosting, set yourself 3 milestones at 7 days, 7 weeks and 7 months (read more about Golden Rule #4 next week). Then choose 3 rewards. A small but meaningful reward for your day 7 success. A big reward for achieving your 7 week goal. And a huge, I mean HUGE reward for 7 month victory. Don’t save money on this. BodyWHealth has no price tag; WHealth is bigger than wealth. Of course you mustn’t be financially irresponsible, but you need a prize that lights you up. The 7 month reward must be the flame that gets you up on cold mornings and keeps you awake with excitement and anticipation. Be explicit. Put pictures on your wall. Plan on hitting the targets. You will!
- Buddy up: For some strange reason we all believe our own excuses more than others do. So when I pull back the curtain and say, “it’s cold this morning, I think I’ll sleep in for another 30 minutes”, it seems very reasonable. To my exercise partner who is already standing outside next to my mailbox, it sounds really lame!
- Understand and break the cycle of shame: We all feel bad when we offer up an excuse. First, we feel bad for not delivering on a promise. Then we feel bad because we’ve dredged up a reason for not delivering. Most of the time, in our heart-of-hearts, we know the explanation is weak! There is huge risk in this, because it becomes self-reinforcing. We begin by feeling bad, and we end up believing we are bad. If you stumble on your journey of good intentions be very careful about the words you use in your head. There is a profound difference between saying “I am bad” versus “I did something bad”. If you miss your steps goal for a week, don’t beat up on yourself. We agree that your actions didn’t meet your aspiration. Actions are much easier to fix. It helps when you catch yourself feeling guilt to replace it very quickly with gratitude. As you hear yourself saying “I feel bad because I didn’t walk today”, stop! Then force the following sentence into your mind: “I am grateful that I have good strong legs, and am excited to walk again tomorrow!” Gratitude is a powerful force!!
- Find inspirational quotes and pictures: Gifted writers and speakers are able to package tons of energy into a few carefully crafted words or sentences. Photographs and pictures can reach deep into your soul to touch and inspire your own creative forces. Put them up on the wall, on sticky notes on your desk or refrigerator, on your calendar, or in your sneakers. There are an expanding number of apps that will send you a daily motivator. Take a look at one called “Inspirational and Motivational Quotes”. It gives you both quotes and photos to inspire you. When I searched for their URL to paste the link in this blog I found a cool quote from Leonardo da Vinci: “Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”
- Play games: Games are fun, provide incentive and reinforce habit. Silicon Valley is beginning to employ gaming in a raft of Tech solutions to help us get and stay healthy. Employers and big corporations are starting to deploy fun into their formerly grey benefit packages. I was intrigued to meet a fascinating start-up called Lifevest Health through my friend Bert Navarrete at Princeton’s TigerLabs. Lifevest Health has a cool platform that allows others to invest (real $) in your health. People who care about you (your employer, family and friends) can invest in your healthy habits. Guess who wins? You do, of course. Not only do you become more WHealthy, but there is real cash on the table too. Pretty good reason to commit to 10,000 steps and counting calories. I don’t think you can enroll as an individual yet, but if you run a company or HR department, I suggest you reach out to them to explore the program for your employees.
Finally, please join this community. Share your own tips in the comment section. Tell us about the apps you’re using. Help us all to meet Golden Rule #3, and say “No Excuses” as we head towards BodyWHealth!