Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breaking the Pattern - How Motivation Plays a Role in Getting Healthy

27.06.2008
People fall into a pattern. They start out with the best intentions and do well for a little while … but then fall back into old habits. It’s a classic health trap: two steps forward, three steps back. People end up feeling bad about themselves. Moreover, the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back dance ends up increasing the health problems the behavioral changes were supposed to address in the first place.

Hands up if these scenarios are familiar:

• You get the exercise bike/treadmill/elliptical you wanted for Christmas, but by April, the machine has been moved to the basement for lack of use.

• You sign up for the weight loss plan that promises pounds will fly off your hips without you having to give up the foods you love. It works for awhile, until one day you discover you weigh more than you ever did.

• You decide to give up smoking, but put it off until next week when you’re not so stressed.

Motivation expert Michael Vallis say most people fall into a pattern. They start out with the best intentions and do well for a little while … but then fall back into old habits. It’s a classic health trap: two steps forward, three steps back.

And that’s a problem. People end up feeling bad about themselves. Moreover, the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back dance ends up increasing the health problems the behavioral changes were supposed to address in the first place.

But people concerned about their health can not only start a new behavior but continue it if they’re honest and realistic about their motivation, says Dr. Vallis, health psychologist with Capital Health and professor of psychiatry and psychology at Dalhousie University. His main area of expertise is in adult health psychology, with an emphasis on diabetes, gastroenterology, cardiovascular risk and obesity.

“People really need to identify personal and meaningful motivations,” says Dr. Vallis, 53, a father of three children. “What’s going to keep you going when it gets hard?” (Some questions to ask yourself: Do you think your behaviour is a problem? How distressed are you about your behaviour? Are you interested in doing anything to change this behaviour? Are you ready to take action now?)

Next, the person has to change their behavior by laying out “smart, specific goals.” In other words, you can’t just resolve to “get more active,” you’ve got to identify when and for how long you’ll do an exercise, whether it’s yoga or swimming or cycling. “Get more active” turns into “I’m going to go for a brisk, hour-long walk on Thursday night at 6 p.m.”

The third part of making change stick is to recognize the role emotion plays in your health and coming up with strategies to cope without resorting to destructive behavior, for example, eating when you’re feeling down, or lighting up a cigarette when you’re in a social situation.

“Stress is what is going to knock people off the best-laid plans,” says Dr. Vallis. “All these unhealthy things—eating the whole carton of ice cream, drinking, smoking—are ways of medicating anxieties.

“If an unhealthy behavior serves a purpose for the patient, it’s important to ‘replace the function’ of that behavior. So, an emotional eater will often be unsuccessful at weight loss until they develop alternative methods of coping with their emotions other than eating.”

The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native not only talks the talk, he runs. When his father died of cardiovascular disease at the age of 57, he realized he was at risk for heart disease, too. He started running when he was in graduate school and now “can’t not run—it’s part of my lifestyle.”

He says health professionals have to be good role models; it’s no longer acceptable for nurses or doctors to preach healthy living if they’re eating poutine in the hospital cafeteria or smoking on the sidewalk between patient appointments. He’s been doing training sessions with health professionals to get his message on motivation out to more people than he could reach one on one.

For more information on making a health plan and sticking to it, check out the website, http://knowyourratio.com.

Charles Crosby | newswise
Further information:
http://www.dal.ca/news/
http://knowyourratio.com

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>