Define Your Wellness Mission Chapter 5

Step 3: Identify Harmful Patterns

Achieving your long-term health and well-being goals requires you to change long-held negative habits. Be sure your brain is ready to take on the work.


Study Up

To change your negative habits, first you have to know what they are. Many of us know the most obvious bad choices: getting no exercise, eating fatty and starchy foods, drinking to excess on a regular basis. Other practices that may be derailing your health are less obvious.

Do you get some exercise, but remain sedentary for most of the day while you work? In a study of 17,000 Canadians, that pattern was associated with increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, even in people who got the recommended amount of daily exercise before plopping down in the chair all day. Have you cut down your smoking to one or two cigarettes a day? It's a good start, but you are still damaging your airways and elevating your risk of all smoking-related illnesses by being a “light” smoker. Do you lounge in bed reading or watching TV, then wake up at 3 A.M., staring at the ceiling, unable to get back to sleep? Disrupted sleep can affect your memory, coordination and hunger cycles. READ MORE

Start your research. Learn as much as you can about your body, mind and the habits that affect them. You can get a good overview of the key components of health and well-being we focus on in “The 9 Rules of Wellness” here. LESS


Busy Brain

If your family is having a crisis or your job is in an extra-stressful phase, this may not be the best time to embark on an ambitious change in health habits. Why not? Forming a new habit, especially one that replaces an entrenched negative habit, takes repetition and focus. If your attention is elsewhere and your mood is negative because of other factors in your life, you may have a harder time adjusting to new behaviors and focusing. READ MORE

The human brain is capable of amazing feats of learning, analysis and recall. However, we also tend to overestimate its power to accomplish many things at once. People who claim great skill as multitaskers may be getting a lot of things done. However, they are not multitasking, say neuroscientists who have scanned the brains of subjects as they complete two or three similar but distinct tasks. What they are really doing is switching rapidly between the various tasks to avoid “interference” in their brain circuitry as they accomplish each action. So take note of the the patterns you want to change, but hold off on major changes until you can focus. You will improve your chances of success. LESS


Keep Your Motivation in Mind

What long-term goals did you identify when thinking through your health priorities? These will keep you on track as you build a strategy to change your behavior patterns. You must decide to embrace change for reasons significant to you: your longevity, your happiness, your pride, your family life, your day-to-day comfort. Your wellness mission may benefit others in your life, but the motivation must come from within. READ MORE

Try forming a picture in your mind of the outcomes you want from making changes to your life. Visualizing the effects positive changes often helps people stay focused on the results that they want. It is an exercise in imagination, formalized wishful thinking. Not everyone is comfortable with positive visualization, but “seeing” a desired outcome has helped smokers quit, obese people lose weight and sports champions achieve their goals. “In order to change the printout of the body,” says Deepak Chopra, M.D., “we must learn to rewrite the software of the mind.” LESS

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.