Foolproof Action Plan to Getting & Staying Healthy This Year … and the Best Ways to Stay on Track
Do you want this year to be the year you actually keep your New Year’s Resolution to achieve better and healthier habits?
“It’s the ultimate personal challenge,” says Leigh Stringer, author of The Healthy Workplace. “It takes guts and determination to make and keep those life-changing commitments in our lives, but it can be done.” Stringer offers up 5 major reasons we fail, and how to stay on track:
- Get Serious. We need a strong reason to overcome our natural lack of motivation.
Becoming healthier is a really good idea. But to get us to change our behavior – to actually change the way we eat, move, sleep and manage our stress on an ongoing basis – requires a really powerful motivator. We need a reason that makes it “absolutely essential” for us to do something differently, and think of ourselves differently. Our lame excuses need to be trumped by a greater calling. We need a real sense of urgency and a stronger “why.”
Deciding to be healthy has to be more than just a cool thing to do or a “nice to have.” Making the firm decision to change lifelong habits for the better requires steely resolve and a strong, unquestionable purpose. It has to be bullet-proof.
- Think. What would incentivize you to make a firm decision and commit to it?
- Write down what motivates you and post it where you will see it several times a day. This is your “why.” A strong ‘why’ can navigate when the how is not so clear.
- Choose friends wisely. You can influence your own behavior by hanging out with healthy people.
Social influence and peer pressure positively impact our exercise behavior, awareness of our intent to exercise and produce results, and the attitude maintained during the exercise experience. You are more likely to stay on an exercise program if you have a friend (either an individual or group) who works out with you. Connecting with other people is critical. We are hard-wired to want to impress and relate to our friends. In addition, if you commit to being at the gym every day, you will feel good and will achieve your goals by keeping your promise to yourself.
- Find a friend you like to exercise with and set up meetings on your calendar to do so. Make friends with people you meet at the health club.
- Surround yourself with people who are healthy and have already adopted the behaviors you are trying to achieve. Decide to be around them often. It will help nudge you to make better decisions and achieve your goals.
- Be accountable. Get a partner to help you stay that way.
If you are accountable for the commitments you make, you are much more likely to achieve your goals and succeed. One great way to keep honest is to find an accountability partner – someone you trust and who will check in with you on a regular basis (daily, weekly or whatever is needed) to see how you are doing, give you positive reinforcement, track how well you doing, and encourage you to stick with your commitments.
- Find someone you trust to be your accountability partner.
- Talk to them about your goals and specific objectives.
- Get specific with them about actions you will want to take as well as rewards and consequences for taking or not taking them
- Set up regular check-in times. This can be a text message, a periodic but regular encounter, or a phone call, whatever makes sense.
- Review your progress and your goals and objectives honestly to track your performance, and modify your targets. Keep your goals ambitious but attainable.
- Make Getting Healthy a Game. Sticking to your goals and resolutions isn’t very fun, but technology can help make it fun.
Do your best to make getting healthy fun. You can turn your journey into a game and adorn your arms and body with wearable devices that help motivate, engage and prompt you to make better decisions. Apply video game-thinking and game dynamics to engage yourself and change your behavior. The technology is available and has really evolved. You can turn any goal or objective you want into a game-like activity that will become ever more desirable and highly addictive. Gaming is now understood as a significant way to encourage people to adopt more healthy behavior. Two of the most powerful elements are competition and progressive reinforcement, where a player gets a challenge, meets that challenge and then receives an immediate reward for its accomplishment. Retained engagement is known to produce 90% improvements on start to finish challenges.
Here are a few more apps you can try:
- Pact, funded by the founder of Guitar Hero, helps you make pacts with yourself to regularly exercise and eat healthily, and you are paid in real dollars to do so.
- LifeTickis a goal-tracking app that asks you establish your core values, then follow the S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-specific) goal-setting method to create tasks or steps that are required to achieve your goal.
- Habit Listhelps you track your “streaks” – how many times in a row you completed a habit, and will send you reminders to keep you on track.
- Liftallows you to choose your goals and then select the type of coaching you require: advice, motivation, and/or prompting from the Lift community.
- StickK, developed by Yale University economists, requires you to sign a commitment contract which binds you to a goal. It will cost you real money if you fail to reach it.
- Pay Attention to your Environment. It may be working against you.
Your environment greatly influences the decisions you make about your health. To the maximum extent possible, take a careful look around, and if necessary, change what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Choose to keep your personal space clean of the enticements that will destroy your ability to achieve your goals. Clean your kitchen and your will be 44 percent less likely to snack than if your kitchen is messy. You will eat less if your kitchen is stocked with smaller vs. bigger plates (ideal is 8-10 inches in diameter).
- Pay attention to how your environment can sabotage your goals and objectives. Don’t set yourself up for failure by keeping potato chips in an easy-to-reach cabinet. Move them or get rid of them and place them on the forbidden list. Look at your home and work settings with fresh eyes, and put away (or throw away) anything that you are to giving up.
- Strategically place healthy snacks, running shoes or other prompts in prominent places to encourage you to make good on your commitments.
Choosing one of these strategies is probably not enough. You will most likely keep commitments if you employ “multiple interventions,” including strategies that intrinsically and extrinsically motivate your behavior.
The Healthy Workplace:
How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees-and Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line
List $ 27.97
Trade hardcover 256 pages
Publisher: AMACOM (July 19, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0814437435 ISBN-13: 978-0814437438
For more information, please visit www.leighstringer.com
The Healthy Workplace utilizes real life and real time research and studies to prove that it pays to invest in people’s well-being. Leigh Stringer reveals how to: create a healthier, more energizing environment; reduce stress to enhance concentration. She explains how to inspire movement at work, use choice architecture to encourage beneficial behaviors; support better sleep; heighten productivity without adding hours to the workday. The book is filled with strategies and tips for immediate improvement and guidelines for building a long-term plan. The Healthy Workplace is designed to help boost both employee well-being and the bottom line.
About Leigh Stringer
Leigh Stringer, LEED AP, is a workplace strategy expert and researcher. Her work has been covered by national media, including CNN, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and Good Morning America.
She works for EYP, an architecture, engineering and building technology firm.
She is the author of the bestselling book, The Green Workplace: Sustainable Strategies that Benefit Employees, the Environment and the Bottom Line (Palgrave MacMillan) and The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees—and Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line (AMACOM).
Leigh is currently collaborating with Harvard University’s School of Public Health, the Center for Active Design in New York, the International Facility Management Association and the AIA DC Chapter on Health and Well-being to create new tools to connect like minds and to blur the boundaries across industries in order to advance and improve our well-being at work. She is a regular contributor to Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution Blog and Work Design Magazine. Leigh regularly speaks at U.S. Green Building Council, CoreNet Global, the International Facilities Management Association and American Institute of Architecture events and writes for a number of workplace and real estate magazines and journals, along with her blog, LeighStringer.com.
Leigh has a Bachelor of Arts, a Masters of Architecture and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Leigh lives with her husband and two daughters in Washington, DC.
What People Are Saying
“Leigh is clearly on the cutting edge of the revolution that is occurring between workplace health and business performance. The Healthy Workplace is research based, immensely practical and filled with genuine insights.”
– Jim Loehr, co-founder of the Human Performance Institute and renowned performance psychologist
“We’ve spent so much time trying to make people happier at work, neglecting how to make them healthier. Stringer combines the best thinking from physiology, psychology, nutrition, and sleep science into practical advice. This is a great read on a critically important topic—a must-have for anyone concerned with waistlines and bottom lines.”
– Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of ORIGINALS and GIVE AND TAKE
“Leigh Stringer has written the definitive guide for 21st century workplaces, and every smart CEO, manager and worker should have a well-thumbed copy of The Healthy Workplace on their desks to use as a ready reference. With fascinating research, backed by hard-hitting statistics, Stringer lays out a compelling case that, far from a luxury, creating healthy workers and workplaces is imperative for fueling productivity, creativity and a better quality of work and life for everyone.”
– Brigid Schulte, award-winning journalist, author of the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play when No One has the Time, and director of The Better Life Lab at New America
“The Healthy Workplace is a groundbreaking synopsis in the evolution of today’s corporate workplace. Leigh Stringer not only demonstrates current challenges and trends which are changing corporate culture, but lays out in specific detail the ways companies can find solutions and innovations towards advancing the wellness agenda for their most coveted asset, their people. ”
– Paul Scialla, Founder/CEO of Delos and International WELL Building Institute
“Leigh goes far beyond ROI and productivity and digs deep into unseen benefits of workplace wellness in The Healthy Workplace. Autonomy, creativity, mindfulness, and reduced presenteeism are just a few ways your culture will benefit from various workplace health initiatives. If you are looking to start a workplace wellness program or simply want to be inspired and re-ignite your population, this book will be an imperative tool so start reading and get out there and change some lives.”
– Sam Whiteside, Chief Wellness Officer, The Motley Fool
“If you pick books that offer both learning and enjoyment, Stringer’s writing delivers mightily on both. You’ll learn why the Huffington Post has napping rooms, why we have a preference for ‘savanna landscapes,’ and what ‘acres of neutral colored work stations’ do to workforce performance. Stringer offers many long lists of practical methods workplace wellness readers can take to people managers, facilities managers and food managers alike to make their workplace a healthy one. I urge you to read it!”
– Paul E. Terry, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) and Editor, The American Journal of Health Promotion
“Whether you seldom think about the interplay between healthy lives and healthy business or you live and breathe it, this book provides a new way of thinking about the connections between psychology and sociology, medicine and health promotion, architectural design, management science and the history of industrialization. Stringer convinces us like no other about the business case for raising human health and performance. Through insightful reporting of the research and company anecdotes, sprinkled with her wit and candor, Stringer challenges us to think differently and deliberately about designing healthier work organizations. This book is for everyone who wants to unlock the potential of work for good!”
– Eileen McNeely, PhD, MS, RNC, Co-Director, SHINE Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard School of Public Health