So, how are we doing? Still committed to that one healthy lifestyle change?
Change can be difficult, and maintaining consistency in our lifestyle alterations can be just as hard. Most studies suggest it takes 12 weeks or more of daily practice for a lifestyle modification to become a habit.
When folks find out that I have run a marathon in all 50 states, they assume that I have some supernatural powers of motivation and never fail to complete my planned workout.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
I am just a regular guy who happens to love to run. I, too, struggle from time to time to keep motivated. I hit the same "plateaus" that we all encounter. In those times, despite working hard at getting better, faster, thinner, etc., it seems I am making no forward progress and possibly slipping in reverse.
As an early-morning runner, I find it extremely difficult at times to force myself from the confines of my warm, soft bed to the harsh reality of a cold, dark morning run. Basically, I am no different from anyone else who struggles to make and keep a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
So how is it that I can be successful with my running while others fail? Well, I am a cardiologist, not a psychologist, so my thoughts here only reflect my beliefs rather than hard scientific fact.
I believe that in order to be successful in any endeavor, one needs to choose a goal. I recommend short-term, achievable goals that serve to reinforce the positive results of your “one healthy change” and longer-term goals that may seem a bit crazy.
When I ran my first marathon, I did not set out to run a marathon in all 50 states. In fact, after my first marathon run for the Leukemia Society, I swore I would never, ever put myself through such pain again. I hated it! I told my wife: "I don't know why I thought that would be fun. It was the most miserable experience of my life. I am never doing another marathon."
After I had completely recovered from that first marathon, however, I realized that I was perhaps in the best shape of my adult life. I did not want to squander all of my hard work getting in shape only to stop running. So I began to participate in other events, not marathons, to keep myself in shape. Little by little, that marathon bug began nipping at my consciousness and I elected to give it another try. Lo and behold, I fell in love. The short-term goal was to stay in shape, but the long-term "crazy" goal did not materialize for a long time after I fell in love with the marathon distance.
Oh, I still struggle getting up in the morning, and I have to force myself for the first couple of miles. But I must remind myself how much better I feel once I get my task completed and can attack a new day with increased vigor and a sense of accomplishment.
So, in short, there are no special secrets to staying motivated other than to keep on keeping on. Your healthy change for this year will reap huge benefits for years to come, so I encourage you to keep on track and realize a healthier you.
Don't forget the monthly educational offerings at the Allen County Public Library on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. The sessions are free and full of wonderful information to assist you on your journey. The next session is Tuesday, May 1, with Barb Ceresa, MS, Health and Wellness director, Parkview YMCA: "Today's Family on the Move."