Make Healthy Decisions with the Behavior Change Menu
In 2020 US News reported the 35 best diets of 2020. The Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the Flexitarian diet, Weight Watchers, the Mayo Clinic diet, the Volumetrics diet, the TLC diet, the Nordic diet, Vegetarian diets, Jenny Craig, the South Beach diet, the Biggest Loser diet, the Zone diet, and the list goes on. This is despite the fact that diets only work if the dieter adheres to one principle, maintaining a caloric deficit. So, how to find the best diet?
There are also more than enough running and strength training programs. These programs also only work if you adhere to one principle, progressive overload. We are constantly being told that one method is the best while being robbed of the fundamental principles that make these things work. It’s not surprise that we experience paralysis by analysis. What direction should we go in when there is no clear direction?
Your Personal Behavior Change Menu
Let’s say that there are four categories of behavior that will have major impacts on your life (1) exercise (2) diet (3) energy and (4) sleep. You can approach improvement in these areas with any number of behaviors. You need to pick what sounds interesting to you. With each of these categories ask yourself how willing you are to do it (on a scale of 1-10) and how confident you are that you can do it (on a scale of 1-10). Only pick things that are an 8 out of 10 or higher for both confidence and willingness. This is your behavior change menu. It’s what you’re most likely to do.
|Behavior Change Menu|
|Exercise and physical activity||Diet and weight||Life and Energy||Sleep|
|Take the stairs whenever applicable Take a 10-minute walk Add strength training to your routine Add aerobic training to your routine Walk 10,000 steps per Go hiking once per week day Do body weight exercises during commercial breaks Get outside more frequently||Reduce soda intake Weigh yourself daily Include green vegetables to meals Avoid trigger-based eating (stress) Keep a diet journal or track food intake Meal prep once per week Replace starchy carbohydrates with vegetables Don’t multitask when you eat Have a fruit smoothie for breakfast Reduce eating out by one time per week||Spend more time with loved ones Have more sex Cut out toxic relationships Don’t judge others Start a gratitude journal Write a gratitude letter Practice meditation Unplug from social media Treat yo self (i.e. pedicure, massage||Go to bed 30 minutes earlier Avoid caffeine in the afternoon Keep a consistent sleep schedule Shut off electronics one hour before bed Cut back on alcohol Cut down on tv time|
Make it detailed
Now, let’s make these behaviors specific with an action plan. Action plans give details of when and where the behavior will occur. If you said you were going to do 10,000 steps when is this going to happen? What is the appropriate opportunity? Maybe you can do 2,000 by walking to work, another 2,000 during a lunch break, and an additional 3,000 at dinner (hopefully you pick up the additional 3,000 just through normal movement).
Whatever your goal is, be sure to give it specific details.
Let’s say you had three things on your behavior change menu, walk 10,000 steps, have a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and to start a gratitude journal. Schedule a time once per week to evaluate your success. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I most proud of this week?
- For each behavior, what percent success would I give myself (0-100%)
- If you scored under 100% ask yourself, “what did I learn from my experience to bump my success up by 10%?”. Make your detailed plan again and try to act on it
- If you scored 100% ask yourself “how can I push myself further”
Change can be tough. It can seem that we have so many options. Yet these options are often based on simple principles. Health behaviors are exactly like medicine. Medicine only works when you take it, health behaviors only work when you do them. Use the behavior change menu to decide what you want to do. Make the behavior specific. Reflect on your success and what you learned. Use that information to improve.
If you want to learn more about how to find the best diet for you, don’t hesitate in contacting us, we offer excellent nutritional counseling services.