Healthy Seniors

Lifestyle Changes: What Would Make You Change Yours?

Healthy Seniors                             VS                                      Unhealthy


What Would Make You Change Your Lifestyle?

As I travel my life’s journey as a Wellness Coach, I come across many interesting people.

Some want you to tell them what is wrong with them.  Some want you to tell them what to do.

A few people are already doing many healthy things and want to expand their repertoire of healthy habits.

The most fascinating are those who decide they will change when they get a “diagnosis”.  After all, they may continue to smoke, eat fast food, sit in front of the TV or computer, drink heavily and so on an never get “sick”.

Let’s look at this a little closer.

49% of adults in the USA have at least one risk factor for heart disease.  One of every 4 deaths in the USA is due to heart disease.  This does not take into account ethnicity.

One-third of U.S. adults are obese. Seventeen percent of children and teenagers are obese.  Obesity ranks as the second leading cause of death.

Excluding deaths, these two illnesses cause a huge amount of disability.

The financial burden of chronic illness in the USA will soon break the bank. We spend more on healthcare than any other developed nation.  We are close to the bottom in healthcare outcomes.

The very sad part of all of this is that most, if not all, of the chronic illness in the USA, is preventable.

Why won’t people change their lifestyle?

My mother and father never stopped smoking in spite of a lung cancer diagnosis.

Most diabetics I know medicate their blood sugars.  They eat, for the most part, what they want and adjust their insulin. I can’t tell you how many diabetics I see eating chips and candy.

My brother (in the beginning) took blood pressure lowering pills but continued his heavy salt and generally bad eating habits.  He did change his tune but his job depends on his health.

I think some of it is denial.  “It won’t happen to me”.

Change is difficult. A renowned psychologist, James Prochaska proposed that we often find ourselves in the previously described predicaments as a result of our perception of change. Behavioral change is rarely a discrete or single event; however, we tend to view it in such a way. (Psychology Today)

The reality is that change happens a little at a time.  Change starts before you even admit you need to change.  Then you think about “maybe” changing.  The next step is Googling some information on the areas you might consider changing. Action is the fourth step followed by maintaining the change.  The final step is that the change is just an integral part of who you are.

This is why some people use wellness coaches.  A wellness coach is your ally in change.  They help you find your most important areas of focus and aid in devising a realistic plan to accomplish them while holding you accountable.  Accountability is not something most of us do well by ourselves.

Some reasons for a lifestyle change.

These are observational only.  I don’t have hard science to back it up.

Many people who change are getting older and know the end is coming faster than they wanted.  They are starting to develop the chronic diseases and want to stop them.

Some people are smart enough to know they would rather avoid chronic disease altogether.  That is possible to do.

Chronic pain can frequently be relieved by proper nutrition (I did not say diet) and exercise.

You may find that you feel better.  Some people aren’t “sick” but they just lack energy and interest in everyday things.  A healthier you would have energy and a “get things done” attitude.

My favorite reason is “I just want to feel good”.  Many folks have accepted the aches and pains and just make adjustments to those annoyances. They don’t take their grandkids to the park or walk the dog.  They forfeit the view from a higher altitude because they can’t breathe up there.  Long trips are too tiring.  So much for all the plans made for retirement. Instead, they get to watch TV and eat some more stuff and fall asleep in the chair.

Consider where you will be in 3 years if you continue your current lifestyle.

Now consider where you want to be in 3 years.

Now make it happen.

Terri Lohman  RN DNP, FNP-BC, CNM (ret) CCA

Wellness coach