Instead of speaking generally, I’ll give a specific case example. I have a 65-year-old friend, Barbara*. She has diabetes, insomnia, low arm muscle tone (related to a shoulder injury & surgery), is overweight by about 20 pounds, and has forward head thrust. Oh, she also complains of snoring, but wants to avoid wearing a CPAP machine to bed (recommended by her doctors after a sleep study for the insomnia). Her eating habits consist mostly of fast food and restaurant food.
For two months, she has talked about the things she “should” do, yet not much has changed. When she started talking to me, I listened for any recent relevant successes. As it turned out, she had lost about 35 pounds over the past few years. With a background in fitness, food and counseling, you’d think I could just say, “do X, Y, and Z and you’ll be fine.” Well, I COULD say that, but would she listen? Would you?
Keeping in mind she’s my friend, NOT my client, I’m somewhat limited, yet she truly is motivated. So I think like a pro and friend, by staying as non-judgmental as possible (that’s diplomatic talk for me trying to keep my mouth shut regarding unsolicited advice).When trying to lead a healthier life, small changes are best because... Click To Tweet
Focus on one issue at a time
Put related issues together
Mention possible small changes
Create an environment that leads to success
Pat, Slap, Pat (totally non-counselorish phrase for Compliment, Correct, Compliment)
Find opportunities to celebrate small successes
Lay out a clear picture of what success looks like – can’t reach a goal if you don’t know what it is
Try to solve all the issues at once
Be a saboteur
Expect the person to do what YOU would do
I realized fairly quickly that Barbara’s main focus is the insomnia and snoring, even more than getting off the diabetes medicine. Me, I’d want to be off the daily shots for the diabetes, but that’s ME, not her. She doesn’t like being reminded about pulling her head back, so the forward head thrust is out of the equation for now. She also has shown little inclination to work out, so the arm strength is also set aside. The good news for her is that the cure for the insomnia and snoring is going to help her diabetes and weight too.
These are a few of the changes that she’s made:
She said she wanted to walk her dog, yet that wasn’t happening. Instead of nagging her to walk the dog, I asked what it was she didn’t like about walking the dog. She said it was boring to walk the same neighborhood day after day. Solution: We meet at different places in town and walk the dog. Side benefit: She is discovering places in town that she had never visited, and her dog barks less at night because he’s sleeping better too.
She said she wanted to eat better by eating fewer meals (skipping breakfast, to be specific). Research doesn’t back up this plan, but I know very few people who change their habits when they read research, so instead I went shopping with her and helped her pick out foods she would actually eat. Solution: She found cereals she liked and has taught herself to read labels to watch for the sugar content (for the diabetes). Side benefit: She is no longer driving through fast food places mid-morning to satiate her hunger, so the type and amount of calories she’s eating have changed for the better.
She knows that exercise leads to weight loss, which leads to a decrease in snoring and helps her sleep better, yet she wasn’t doing any exercise. She’s a social person, so I invite her to join me on dog walks and other walking opportunities. For example, she’s so used to driving everywhere, that’s it’s a habit for her to jump into her car for even a short distance. We were headed somewhere that’s about a quarter mile from my house, so I suggested we walk. Solution: She’s starting to look at walking as a way to get from place to place, rather than as forced exercise. By simply “interrupting” her unconscious habit of jumping into the car, she now sees walking as an alternative mode of transport. Side benefit: She has noticed the correlation between the exercise and how she sleeps, and has come to realize that it’s actually cause and effect.
She is a kindhearted person who likes to be a good friend. We were going out to restaurants far more than is my usual style, and I found I was eating more than I normally would. When I expressed concern about this, she wanted to be helpful to me. She isn’t a doggie bag person; her mindset is more toward “clean your plate.” Thinking of “Pat, Slap, Pat,” I said, “I love going out to eat and trying new foods. This lifestyle won’t work for me in the long run, as I’m sitting too long and eating too much” (way better than saying, “You eat out way too often,” which sounds judgy). “Could we swing by the ready-made section of the grocery store and pick up some lunch there instead?” If I had suggested cooking at home, she would not have been successful at reducing her restaurant visits, since she doesn’t cook. Solution: She is looking more to the grocery store as a place for portion control and choice. Side benefit: She now has more time for those dog walks, as she’s spending less time sitting in a restaurant.
I gave her a card for her wallet that lists her goals, but that was a total bust, as she never looks at it. And I discovered that chocolate shakes are non-negotiable for her, so I stopped rolling my eyes. She has a sweet tooth, so I have to work WITH, not AGAINST it. How? I offer fruit in vanilla yogurt to her, which sometimes (not always) satisfies her sugar craving. And isn’t fruit two times out of ten better than candy bars ten out of ten? Maybe she’ll get to five times fruit and five times chocolate bars. But that might be enough to beat the diabetes.
Oh, I got her hooked on Bolthouse Vanilla Chai instead of the caffeinated energy drinks and sodas she was drinking. THAT is a big success.
What is the one small thing you can do? Write it in the comments below so we can steal your ideas.
Alexandra Williams, MA
One very small thing you can do is subscribe to our twice-weekly posts, just by entering your email right over there ——->
Photo credit for “To Do” – Courtney Dirks
I’m one of 14 international designers (not me) and lifestyle (me) bloggers invited to attend the giant IMM (International Furniture Fair) and Living Kitchen as well as other design destinations in Cologne before moving on to spend a day in Amsterdam for a guided tour of the City’s design hotspots in collaboration with home design magazine Eigen Huis and Interieur.
What? You are wondering how I managed to wangle this amazing invitation when I can’t even tell you the 2013 color of the year (it’s emerald)! Let me put it like this – You love good food, right? And you spend a lot of time in your kitchen? And in your bathroom? And you appreciate good design, whether it’s your sculpted body or a beautiful sculpture, right? How about well-made products that make your life more enjoyable? Exactly!
A few of the items I’ll be checking out on your behalf:
We moved away from Oregon just as my dream kitchen was finished. So I didn’t get to spend much time with MY sink. So for sure I’ll be sidling up to this BLANCO CERANA™ fireclay, as it’s just like the one I left behind.
This magical espresso machine is by Miele. Need I say more?
I’ve read the research about the health benefits of cooking with steam (think of vitamins, minerals and nutrients). But I didn’t know about these steam ovens until just now. On the wish list!!
If you read our November Holiday Fitness Gift List, then you already know about the standing towel warmer by Mr. Steam. I figured out pretty quickly that it warms my fitness clothes in the morning too! And I’m sure it would warm up this snuggly robe from The Turkish Towel Company.
These cabinet pulls by Du Verre are shaped like pomegranates. I think it would be so cool to have the drawers match one of my favorite smoothie ingredients! Since they’re manufactured entirely from recycled aluminum, they satisfy my environmental values too!
My compost currently goes into an old milk container. It’s disgusting. Dear BLANCO SOLON™ Compost System, come to Mama.
These are but a fraction of the many amazing items and brands I’ll be checking out during the trip! I’m pretty excited. And I’l be keeping an eye out for the items I think Kymberly would like in her new home. She needs appliances for an entire house! Hmmm, there must be a way to make her into a Shrinky-Dink so she can fit in my luggage and come along….
If you want to know more of our gift suggestions for the season (or any time, really) listen to our Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas radio interview with Southern Fried Fitness.
Now I’m off to brush up on my basic Dutch skills. Tot ziens!
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And awaaaaay we go:
Eleven random things about myself:
1. I am the shortest of 5 children.
2. I get vertigo when too stressed.
3. My children are ethical and compassionate. This means I did a good job as a mom.
4. I used to be a DJ on a radio station in Santa Barbara County. Ralph Story complimented me. He’s dead now. It’s not because of me.
5. I love disco. Get over it.
6. I wish I’d known how adorable I was back when I was.
7. Some woman has been stalking me for years. She says she’s my twin.
8. I’m the same size I was in high school. I suspect sizing has changed.
9. I went water skiing when I was 16 and my bathing suit top fell off. Needless to say, I let go of the rope and stayed in the water until my 30s.
10. I feel sad when my younger son isn’t included in things.
11. Being up on a stage with a microphone is really fun for me.
These are the questions I was asked by Tara Burner
1. Juice? Coffee? or Tea?
Is this the part where I get to strut my stuff in the airplane and say, “Or me?” Giving me caffeine is about the same as giving me mint mojitos and Bailey’s – I just talk faster, tell bad jokes, and twitch wildly when handsome guys go by. So, um, that would be tea.
2. What’s your favorite food?
Well, the thing I chew on the most is my fingernails, so do they count as food? If not, maybe freshly baked bread. I like anything fresh (you hear that, Colin Firth?).
3. Do you have any hidden talents?
No, all my talents are well-publicized. Mostly by me. On bathroom walls. I suppose my master’s in counseling might be hidden. Or maybe suppressed. What does that say about my relationship with my train set? And I can speak parts of a number of languages.
4. Have you ever hitch-hiked?
Yes. It did not go well. It involved police and a pervert. They were not one and the same.
5. What’s your favorite workout program?
Any program where I outlast my 20-year-old students and they get that look of awe, respect, and fear in their eyes!
6. Do you experience road rage or just drive in peace?
I drive in peace, but those other drivers are idiots.
7. Favorite place to vacation?
In my head. Every day. Ohhhhhhmmmmmmm. Or the Netherlands. Or the nether regions of my brain. But it’s windy there.
8. Are you spontaneous or like a schedule?
I’m answering this one out of order just to prove I’m spontaneous. Next I’ll mix coffee with a mint mojito, just to see what happens. Then I’ll spontaneously throw up most likely. And I’m not “like a schedule” although I do follow one.
9. Meat eater? vegetarian? vegan?
I eat vegans. Actually, I’m a vegetarian. If it has legs and a face, I don’t eat it.
Yes, I like to be petted. A feel would be nice too. Just kidding. Don’t touch me, ya weirdo, or I’ll sic my dog and 3 cats on you. My cat Ella is spontaneous. She falls asleep in the sink. And leaves dead lizards and snakes where she knows I’ll step on them. Pets are mean that way.
11. Makeup? or natural?
I didn’t make up anything in this post. It all came to me naturally. While I was shaving my legs and buying Chanel lipstick. That’s my secret indulgence that I didn’t mention above. It was a secret until just now.
1. What was your favorite subject in high school?
2. What makes you laugh?
3. If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?
4. What is one thing you wish you had never done in your life?
5. What is one thing you’ve done that you’re 100% sure was the right choice?
6. What’s one place you’ve never been that you want to visit?
7. Steam or sauna?
8. Have you ever been on a blind date? If so, how did it go?
9. Push-ups or planks?
10. What is your worst cooking disaster?
11. If you had to give a one-sentence toast to your beloved, what would it be?
1. Post these rules in your post.
2. Post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the tagger’s post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag.
5. Go to the blogs of the people you’ve tagged to tell them they’ve been tagged.
6. You legitimately and actively have to tag 11 people. No saying “you are tagged if you are reading this.”
The secret to a healthier, slimmer, more fit you lies in your daily choices and habits. Why do more of the same when it’s not working? Our Spring into Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge will share exercise, motivation, nutrition/diet, and lifestyle tips to put you on the road to lasting change in just 30 days!
The Spring into Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge is different and better than all those other programs you may have tried because it gives you information and guidance that has already been proven effective for the thousands and thousands of students we’ve worked with over the years. No gimmicks, no undue suffering, no taunting, no unsafe or short-term results; just new habits you will “sneak” into your lifestyle.
For only $9.95 (about 33 cents a day), you will receive daily emails, beginning Monday, May 16, with specific steps for you take. And it gets even better! You can also win one of four gift baskets from Hanna’s Herb Shop (each worth $100), one of five berry shipments from Cal Giant Berries, or a basket of berries with a $25 gift card to Academy.com (Academy Sports & Outdoors).
In addition, every participant will receive a 20% discount coupon to Hanna’s Herb Shop, plus a free downloadable CD of workout music from iSweat Music. In other words, you get back much more than you put in!
Register today at FunandFit and beginning on Monday, May 16, you’ll receive the information you need to start creating new, healthy habits!
Here’s what you do:
1. Register at FunandFit
2. On Monday, May 16, you will start to receive your 30 days’ of Healthy Habits material, sent to your inbox every morning.
3. Inside those emails will be the coupon to Hanna’s Herbs that you can redeem online.
4. Inside those emails will be the code to download your FREE iSweat Workout Music.
5. Go to the Fun & Fit fan page and post your comments, photos, successes, challenges, etc. The more you post, the more chances you have to win.
6. At the end of the Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge, we will notify the winners of their prizes.
7. Everyone is a winner, both in prizes and in gaining a healthier life.
8. Did you get the part where you get back more than the $9.95 you put in?