Do you find yourself making health goals that you fail to reach? Or reach them and then backslide? Link your health behaviors to your values! Find out why this is the key to your success.
This is part three of a 5-part series on The Missing Ingredient in All Weight Loss Programs. We talked in part one about the missing ingredient; your core values.
Part Two explored why healthy habits are so hard to stick to. Here in part three we’ll focus on linking those health behaviors to your values so you will do them even when you don’t want to.
Why Your Values Matter
This truly is the key to making consistent, long-term progress.
Yes, developing small healthy habits is also necessary, but you still won’t have incentive or motivation to do them consistently if they are not in line with your values.
Here’s an example. You have a friend who embarked on a weight loss journey by keeping strict tabs on her intake through a calorie app on her phone.
She logged her steps every day, and made sure she got in some strength training 2-3 days a week.
She did this for a few months and reached her goal of losing 40 pounds and firming up.
Oh, but wait. During this time she also cut back her social gatherings, refraining from going out to dinner, even limiting time spent with family because it normally involved eating.
So what happened when she lost the pre-determined amount of weight? She celebrated by indulging in a favorite food or drink she had been avoiding for so long.
And stopped doing all of the exercise so strictly. And now? Now she could go back to having drinks and hors d’oeuvres on Fridays after work!
All because her goal was LOSE 40 POUNDS. Once she did that, what incentive was there to keep doing all the things?
Goals Alone May Not Give Long-Term Results
Why is this? Well, her goal was losing a specific amount of weight and she did that. If she wanted to now maintain that weight loss, she would have to come up with a new program.
But what are the chances she would continue not socializing? What kind of life is that?
So, this is not sustainable in the real world, and is one reason why people regain weight (if they ever reached their goal in the first place). Something like 95% of people who lose weight gain it back and then some.
What you and your friendly brain are doing here is trying to “solve the problem.” What’s the problem? I’m 40 pounds overweight. Brain, help me figure out how to solve the problem!
Your brain is good at that. But this doesn’t lead to behavior change, which is what you’re going for here.
So let’s see if we can find a different, better, and more sustainable way to make the healthy changes you want in your life.
Do You Know Your Core Values?
There’s simply no way you don’t have values. Even if you don’t know what they are. I’m encourage you to go further if you’ve never really thought much about it.
What matters to you? Is it pleasure? Justice? Beauty? Honesty? Connection? Intimacy?
There are literally hundreds of possibilities. It can be tempting to pick the ones that you think you should have, but you need to be honest with yourself.
And please know that it’s okay if, for example, your core values are independence, self-sufficiency, physical attractiveness, and prosperity.
You don’t have to feel bad about yourself if you think your values are kind of self-centered. You’re not a bad person if your highest values aren’t friendship, compassion, and empathy. Everyone is unique and everyone has different strengths.
Not to mention that “thinking your values are self-centered” is just that…a thought. It’s a story you’re telling yourself that is not a fact. And you can change the story.
If you literally have no idea what I mean by all of this, downloading the guide below will help.
Once you have taken the time to identify your core values, pick one of them that can fuel your fitness goals. You may be surprised at how many of them can tie together.
(Note: don’t think you’re chained to what you picked as your core value. You can always change and refine as you get to know yourself better!).
Link Your Value(s) To Your Desired Health Behavior
Now you need to connect your desired health behavior(s) to your core values.
Why? Can’t you just decide you want to lose weight and be fit? Why make it so complicated?
Because the usual way doesn’t work, and you don’t want to keep trying something and failing at it again and again. That just sets you up for discouragement and eventually quitting altogether.
Healthy Behaviors Go Against Your Nature
Let’s face facts here. Engaging in healthy behaviors sort of sucks. It goes against everything our minds want to do. You want to eat what you want, when you want it, and it the quantity you want!
Dang it, don’t tell me I can only have 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes!! And exercising violates the conserve energy default so it, too, goes against evolution and nature.
There has to be something to convince you to go against what you want to do, and we’ve already determined that sheer willpower won’t do the trick over the long haul.
Linking Your Health Behaviors To Values Is Key
So, tying the desired behavior into the person you want to be is the key. This will get you where you want to go.
Maybe one of your highest values is independence. You fear being dependent on someone else in your later years, or you want to stay where you live, and it has stairs that you have trouble going up and down all day.
In this case, you tie your health behaviors into that value of independence and practice the behaviors in the service of the value. If you value your independence enough, you will take a walk even when you don’t feel like it.
Or you’ll make to sure eat an extra helping of vegetables each day, or some other healthy practice of your choosing.
How about honesty. Part of being honest is telling a true story about what goes into your mouth. It means being honest with yourself about how sitting around eating bonbons and watching Netflix may not add much to your quality of life.
Now eating a few bonbons or watching something on Netflix is not evil or forbidden. I’m talking about doing this all the time instead of those things that add to your health, your quality of life.
If you truly desire to be honest in all your dealings, this means being honest with yourself, too.
Why Do You Want To Be Healthy (Fit…sexy…strong)?
When you delve into your why, what do you find? Do you want to attract a partner? Do you want to live a long, healthy life?
Maybe, as in the example above, you want to be independent as long as possible. Who wants to spend their later years in an assisted living facility? I for sure want to live with all my faculties in place when I’m older!
Hone in on your why. Take your time, because this will be the key to continuing in your healthy behaviors.
Then you need to even go a bit deeper. Why do you want to attract a partner (live a long, healthy life, avoid assisted living)?
Are you afraid to be alone as you age? Are you afraid of aging itself? If so, why? Get to the core why. Do you want happy relationships with your family? How about being more sociable?
If you can get to this profound value and link your desired health behaviors to that, you’ll be on your way to a healthier you. An always getting healthier version of you.
There won’t be an “I’ve arrived” moment. You’ll just be a person who practices healthy behaviors because you value something that these practices move you toward attaining.
Roadblocks On The Way To Your Health Behaviors
All is good now, right? You’ll just go on your merry way with your behaviors and values and you’ll be the perfect, fit, healthy person you’ve always desired!
Well, not so fast. Unfortunately there are many obstacles on the road to keeping yourself healthy and motivated.
While linking your health behaviors to your values is the best way to become the healthy and fit person you want to be, there will certainly be obstacles along the way.
After all, if it were really easy, everyone would be doing it. But it’s not easy. Don’t fool yourself…there’s always going to be work to do or sacrifices to make.
This is true even if you just give up. It’s unlikely that with giving up you won’t feel guilty, disgusted, tired, stressed, and all sorts of other negative things.
You have a choice between doing those sorts of “hard things,” or the hard thing of overcoming the expected obstacles to your success. And in the next installment, I’ve got just the way to do that!
So stay tuned.
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