We have only one body and when we take pro-active measures to identify and modify unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, we can achieve a more satisfying life. “Adopting new, healthier habits may protect you from serious health problems like heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and obesity. Adopting new habits, like healthy eating and regular physical activity, may also help you manage your stress and give you more energy,” said Dr. Johnson. A health plan typically contains four stages.
• Contemplation = I’m thinking about it – I recognize the need to make changes – I am motivated. • Preparation = I have made up my mind to act – I’m identifying habits I need to change – I’m listing goals and specific actions that I need to take. • Action = I have begun – I am putting my plan into action. • Maintenance = I have become used to my changes – I’ve been on track for more than six months – I am experiencing a new lifestyle and better outlook on my life.
Determining how you can best accomplish each goal is an important process and one that may require help, input, and support from your family, friends, and doctor. This support is especially helpful in identifying the triggers of your bad habits and in seeking ways to cope with or avoid them. People who ask their friends and loved ones for support are more successful in achieving their goals. “In addition, research shows that a person’s health behaviors tend to mirror those of their family and friends. So, when you ask a person you care about to support you in your health plan, you may also be influencing them to make a plan for themselves,” said Dr. Johnson.
There is an adage, ‘…the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” This can certainly pertain to a health plan. There will be obstacles and setbacks caused by unexpected situations, stressful times in life, or when temptations from old habits arise. Don’t be discouraged, rather, remember that change is a process and by working through and learning from our setbacks we can continue moving forward. “Behavior modification is challenging, and there will probably be times when you feel like a failure, or that maybe it’s just too late for you to make changes,” said Dr. Johnson. However, this is not true. “You are never too out of shape, too overweight, or too old to make healthy changes. If you hit a speed bump, which is normal, try different strategies until you find what works best for you.”
Sometimes when you’re trying to adopt healthier habits, other health issues can get in the way. “When you’re really struggling, ask yourself what might be causing it, for example, are you experiencing a higher level of stress or anxiety, are you depressed, are you getting enough sleep – any of these can lead to unhealthy behaviors, and cause a lack of energy, motivation, and enthusiasm,” said Dr. Johnson.
To obtain your optimal health status, Dr. Johnson recommends that you work with your doctor to make sure your goals are appropriately addressing your concerns, that they are prioritized in a manageable manner, and begun safely. “Because no two people are alike there cannot be a cookie-cutter approach to identifying and developing a person’s health plan goals,” said Dr. Johnson. To produce the healthiest most successful outcomes, each person’s goals must consider their personal health history, immune system’s strength or weakness, weight, use of tobacco, alcohol consumption, eating habits, physical activity, sleep habits, stress, etc. A health plan is not a quick fix but rather, a lifelong commitment that leads to living a lifestyle dedicated to producing a healthier, happier, and more balanced life. “Approaching your goals one step at a time will improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being and give you great personal satisfaction.”
According to Dr. Johnson, “The most successful plans are not initiated by me, but by my patients.” When a patient starts the dialogue, the doctor/patient relationship has transformed into a partnership. The doctor talks with rather than to the patient – listening, guiding, and supporting them. “When patients talk to me about their health concerns, they are already well on their way. They understand the importance and benefits of their goals and are motivated in taking responsibility for their success,” said Dr. Johnson.
The health care providers at Sheboygan Internal Medicine Associates provide care beyond the urgent emergency and chronic conditions. “We get to know our patients and form trusting relationships with them. Our primary goal for each of our patients is to help and encourage them in achieving long-term wellness,” said Dr. Johnson.
Paying attention to your lifestyle behaviors can also help you strengthen your immune system. To learn more, read the Strengthen Your Immune System blog posted in November 2020.