Behavior Change

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Why Wellness Won't Wait

Why Wellness Won't Wait

Barney Fife, one of my favorite TV characters from the Andy Griffeth Show, had a sensible approach to law enforcement. He was a proponent of stopping any problem before it got bigger— preferring to "nip it in the bud".

Knowing that we are facing a threat makes taking decisive action easier. When it comes to well-being, though, the threats can sneak up on us.

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How to Conquer Your Cravings

How to Conquer Your Cravings

My cat has strange cravings. Elastic hairbands. She just can't get enough of them.

We've seen "evidence" that she has eaten them before, and we've done our best to keep them away from her (I'm convinced she can open drawers!). But this week, her bizarre addiction got her into trouble, and she wound up in surgery to remove twelve - yes, TWELVE - of them from her stomach.

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5 Ways to Engineer Greater Well-Being

5 Ways to Engineer Greater Well-Being

What do fast food, TV remotes and Facebook have in common?

They all provide quick and easy ways for us to get what we want! (food, entertainment, and social connection)

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Four Ways to Curb Food Cravings

Four Ways to Curb Food Cravings

During the holidays, many folks indulge in rich foods that aren't part of their normal eating plan. With the new year, come resolutions to return to a healthier pattern — but that can be complicated by food cravings that just won't quit.

Food cravings stem from a variety of physiological and psychological forces, so reducing them may require a multi-pronged approach. Here are a four approaches to consider:

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Six Ways to be a GREAT Accountability Buddy

Six Ways to be a GREAT Accountability Buddy

These days most of us have a lot on our plate. When we have multiple commitments, it can be challenging to consistently invest in all the things that are important to us. If we're not careful, we can fall into a reactive mode where we are constantly dealing with things that seem urgent, and not finding the time, energy, or focus to be proactive in the areas that aren't being "squeaky wheels" — at least until they reach urgent status too!

The trouble is, some things that are important to us aren't going to squeak as loudly. The commitments that we have at work, for example, are supported by all the structures that promote their fulfillment — weekly meetings with supervisors or team members, timelines, deadlines, evaluations, etc. — keep these things front and center. For many other areas of our lives, however, we have to build our own support structures.

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Seven Ways to Hit the Sweet Spot on Sugar

Seven Ways to Hit the Sweet Spot on Sugar

In the last couple of months there has been a lot of buzz about the new documentary, Fed Up. The film, narrated by Katie Couric, takes a hard look at some of the factors that are driving preventable chronic diseases in our country. It's no secret that we are seeing dramatic increases in chronic metabolic diseases — like obesity, diabetes, lipid disorders and hypertension. But is our approach to dealing with these problems on target? The answers may surprise you.

Obesity gets a lot of attention because it is a visible disease. From the outside, people can't see if someone has diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Obesity can increase someone's risk for these conditions, but it is also important to know that people can be at risk even if they don't have a high body mass index (BMI). Body mass index can be useful information, but it doesn't distinguish between lean and fat tissue. You can actually be "thin on the outside but fat on the inside" (TOFI). In fact, an Italian study published in 2009, found that BMI tended to underestimate someone's risk for metabolic disease.

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Creating Your Own Context

Creating Your Own Context

Have you ever tried to stop an old habit or start a new one and it feels like swimming upstream? You want to be more active, but your job involves a lot of sitting. You'd like to get more sleep, but you find yourself staying up to watch TV. One of the reasons that change is challenging is because our lives are organized around the context in which we live! Sometimes we are able to notice the context, and that gives us an opportunity to alter it. Other times, the context is so pervasive that it is invisible to us. We "don't know what we don't know." Like fish swimming in a lake, the water around us is just a part of life. We can't really imagine what it would be like to be breathing air!

I had a great lesson in this phenomena when we returned to the U.S. in 2007 after living in northeastern Brazil for three years. We'd been in a small town in a rural, semi-arid region, and there was a lot about life there that was different. Everything in town was close together and people often walked to do their daily activities. That meant that there were always people on the street. A trip to the big Saturday market was a social event, for you were sure to run into lots of friends and spend time catching up on the events in their lives!

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Seven Steps to Sustainable Change

Seven Steps to Sustainable Change

It's the first week of January and all over our country people are making hopeful resolutions about the new year. Business is booming at health clubs, no doubt. Sales of fitness gear, weight loss products, and self-help books should be doing well. The start of a new year is a prime opportunity for many of us to start in a new, healthier direction.

As I've discussed here before, though, our resolutions don't always produce the desired results. In fact, more often than not, we don't achieve our resolutions. In the face of this discouraging news, some folks give up on resolutions all together. They doubt their ability to alter their lives in a meaningful way.

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Ready...Set...Change!

Ready...Set...Change!

It's a glorious day here in my neck of the woods. The summer is on its way out, and the mornings are becoming crisp. The kids are back in school and in a few days, autumn will officially be here. The changing seasons are one of the things I love about living in North Carolina. Each season is unique, and the transitions from one to another always bring a sense of anticipation for the upcoming time of year right alongside a yearning for the waning season and all the gifts it brought. Every change is like this, it seems – both a beginning and an end.

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New Year's Resolutions: Dream Big, Plan Small

New Year's Resolutions:  Dream Big, Plan Small

Sticky NotesAs we draw closer to the end of the year, many folks start to think about their hopes and plans for the New Year. The New Year brings an opportunity to recommit to those things that are important to you, or to start something new entirely. For some of us, we may frame these commitments as New Year's Resolutions.

The bad news about resolutions is that, too often, our best intentions don't get us the results that we want. Research confirms that more than half of resolutions aren't sustained for longer than six months, and some suggest that that percentage is even higher. If you've failed to maintain a New Year's resolution, or seen someone else fail, you might be inclined to avoid making a commitment. After all, that way you won't be disappointed!

The good news is that people who make resolutions are far more likely to achieve their goals than people who aren't.

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