Archive for motivation
Who is responsible for your health, is it you?
Our goal at Female Menopause Mentors is to help women through the menopausal transition, with its’ myriad of symptoms; and beyond. You may wonder why so many of our recent posts are related to diet and fitness. You may be thinking there is much more to menopause than weight gain, you may not want to make any changes in your diet or your lifestyle.
You are right, in part. There is much more to menopause than just weight gain, however, virtually all of our health arises from what we put into our bodies and how much we move on a regular basis. Yes, genetic plays a big part, but it is what you do or don’t do that can trigger your genetic tendencies. Weight gain is one of the biggest complaints I hear from women going through menopause. The weight gain that can occur with menopause can cause problems with joint pain, fatigue, sexual desire, and sleep issues. This can lead to self esteem issues, and relationship problems.
So who can take responsibility for this? YOU! You can control what you put into your body, what you eat. So what is keeping you from achieving the changes you know you need to make.
That is the sticking point. Many of us look to outside reasons as to why we can’t make certain changes or achieve a certain goal. I understand that time is a big issue for people as they work and deal with personal and family issues. However, looking deeper for reasons for a lack of commitment to making changes is the key to successfully engaging your motivation and keeping it engaged.
Perhaps you don’t really want to make a change, maybe you don’t feel you will be successful and that scares you. Maybe you don’t want the people around you judging you, or not supporting you in your change. These can be only some of the potential barriers to making changes, whether it is diet, exercise, smoking cessation, adopting an new hobby or even changing a job.
The interesting thing about motivation is that for every barrier, there is a way around but you have a compelling reason to make the change. Let’s take reducing weight as an example.
A recent patient of mine had arrived at menopause without the best health habits. She didn’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess, but she didn’t exercise much and half halfheartedly watched her diet. She wasn’t on many medications and didn’t have hypertension or diabetes, so felt she was in decent health and was sort of just going along. Then she began the menopause transition and gained quite a bit of weight. In the middle of this process, her son became engaged and the wedding was looming in the not so distant future. She was very excited for her son, but she was dreading the thought of being just off center stage, with her current body shape. She wanted to look good in a pretty dress, we can all relate to that! What was a previous lack of motivation, became engaged. She had a compelling reason to engage her motivation. I helped her with the tools of food choices and guidance on beginning exercise, but she activated the motivation within herself and kept it going. She focused on herself, how she wanted to look initially; then how much better she felt. She did not motivate for someone else, or something else; she did it for herself and her own self esteem. She discovered something important that kept her going past the wedding; control and responsibility for her own health. This was very empowering for her.
As you think about the changes you want to make, it is important to acknowledge why you have not been successful in the past. There are many external or superficial reasons why you have not made the changes you want to, but lack of success is most often from a deeper, more fundamental reason. There are always ways to deal with issues of time, place, the knowledge of what or how to make a change; it takes a firm decision and commitment to clearing those obstacles from your path to change.
Menopause is a time of major change. You can use this time as a starting point to finally working on being healthier, with all the positives that improved health brings. You can focus on your mind as well as your body, as it takes both to successfully make long term changes. We, at Female Menopause Mentors, are committed to helping you through this process. Look for our upcoming videos on improving willpower and commitment to healthy changes. I welcome comments and suggestions on different strategies for works for you, what you have done to successfully change a part of you.
Have you struggled so long with obesity that you are now considering surgery? It seems that more and more I hear the opinion from experts that bariatric surgery may be the best solution for obesity and its’ attendant illnesses. This surprises me and concerns me at the same time. Many Cardiologists and Endocrinologists have struggled to help patients lose weight in order to help improve health parameters. As many of us know, losing weight is extremely difficult when too much weight has been gained and you are struggling with joint pain and fatigue. Perhaps surgery has been recommended to you by your medical provider, or perhaps you are pursuing this on your own. This may be the correct course of action for you BUT THIS IS A SERIOUS DECISION!
There are many types of Bariatric surgery, but basically this surgery involves making the stomach smaller so that you cannot eat as much food. Many people can stop medication shortly after bariatric surgery and for the truly obese person who has tried everything, it is quite possibly a life changing option.
Most surgery centers require a strict pre-screening process to ensure that a person understands what is involved with this surgery. Surgeons want to be assured that a person has sincerely tried diet and exercise in order to lose weight. They often are more willing to perform this surgery on patients that also have other medical illnesses. They will also do a psychological screening because this surgery involves a major life change. It is nearly impossible to eat much food which can impact socializing in restaurants, parties and cookouts. It requires people to have plan and strong sense of self to withstand temptation, unwelcome comments and unasked for opinions.
One success story I would like to share with you involves a woman called Marcia (name changed). Marcia was 80+ lbs overweight, suffered from hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and depression. She had been on countless diets and walked for exercise but with her joint problems was limited on activity. She finally chose bariatric surgery after feeling she had exhausted all possibilities, even though eating out was a major source of entertainment for her. Within a month, she was off all meds with the exception of her depression medication! She is feeling great about herself and is losing 2-3 lbs a week. She does admit that she misses eating out, but she has a strategy to not waste food by taking leftovers home. She has found a standard restaurant meal is 4-5 servings for her! It remains to be seen however, whether she can maintain this weight loss over the years to come.
A second woman who had bariatric surgery years ago, named Kathy (name changed). Kathy was 150 lbs overweight, and had surgery early in the development of weight loss surgery. Kathy did in fact lose up to 150 lbs, but has gained back almost 100 of those pounds. She has had a serious struggle with depression and is now developing diabetes, hyperlipidemia and hypertension. She does not have strategies in place to help her cope with the problems of life, and will most likely not succeed again in losing weight and maintaining weight loss unless she makes some changes.
So what ability do you have to facilitate a healthy change? Can you stick with a new plan of eating and exercise. Weight loss surgery patients lose weight immediately because they cannot eat as much. Over time, however, they can work around this limitation and gain weight back. You must tackle the psychological issues of weight gain before you can maintain a healthy weight, regardless of how you got there. You must feel in control, you must take responsibilities for your decisions, and you must have accountability and support.
To achieve the changes you want to make, it is important to utilize the strategies I describe above. Coaching can help, either with a life coach or with a psychologist it you have an eating disorder. Share with us your struggles and successes with making changes. Consider our coaching program which can help you stay focused and on track. Or, consider one of the many other diet programs that include support such as Weight Watchers. Successful life change must occur on many levels!
When we want to make any major changes in our lifestyle, most of us believe all it takes is enough motivation and will power and we will succeed. Likewise if we fail, it must be due to lack of enough will power and motivation. Any changes do require a significant amount of will power, however this is not enough. The truth is, most people cannot make significant changes on will power alone.
When first considering making a change, it is normal for you to think that you cannot make this change. Our minds will often turn to thoughts on why a certain change will not work for us, or how we couldn’t possibly make this change. It is easy to find reasons NOT to change. The important question to ask yourself is whether this change could possibly work better for you than what you are doing now. Is what you are doing now, what you want to stick with? If you think the change is not better than what you are currently doing, then discard this particular change and move to something else. It can take a while to find what works for you. It is OK to try things and then decide they don’t work for you, whether it is a diet or exercise routine. Trying new things, stopping and starting; does not mean you are a failure or that you should give up. Remember, start with small steps.
One way to help yourself adopt a change is to learn to change how you perceive your ability to accomplish a task or a challenge. This is changing your perception of your world, or your mental model. We all construct our own mental models on how we have learned the best way for us to do anything. What we forget is that our own mental model is just OUR way of doing any particular task, but there are numerous other ways to do anything.
In addition to adopting an different mental model, it is important to change that loop if dialogue that goes on up in our heads all day long. This is called your mental chatter. We all have it going on, and it can be the cause of success or failure at any given task. This is the voice in your head which tells you that you can or can’t do what you are attempting to do. You can change your mental chatter, but it does take a plan and some effort.
In order to keep motivation high and ensure continued success on the changes you are making, it is also important to involve more of an outward thought process. We are all me-centered. We look at any change as how it will affect me, how am I going to do this, how is this going to benefit/hurt me. This is how we process any change, and how we construct our mental model and it sets the tone for our mental chatter regarding this particular change. It helps to do less of this me oriented thinking and more reaching outward into your immediate world or community.
So how do you make a change that is significant and in the direction you want to go?
- Identify a problem you have that you want to change.
- Write down what this problem is, how it affects you and drives you, as well as what prevents you from changing you behavior in this problem.
- Now write down a different way of approaching this problem, this is your alternate reality of the problem or how a different person may approach a solution to this problem
- Next, try actually thinking of yourself as someone who is approaching the problem in this alternate way.
- Tell yourself repeatedly that you will do A instead of B; write it down, journal it every morning and night. This will change your mental chatter and help you to change your mental model.
- Identify people in your life that will help you to succeed, that will be positive and reinforcing to you as you accomplish this change.
- Reward yourself when you make even small successes. Make sure your reward is not to indulge in what you are trying to change (no food rewards when trying to lose weight etc…).
You can utilize these principles with both small and large changes, but starting small can give you quick success in making changes. This will help you prove to yourself that you are capable of changing your habits. Write in and share with our readers your strategies for change and your successes. Share with us what works and what does not work.
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Now that the New Year is here, you have no doubt made a resolution to lose weight. Who of us does not feel that a few lost pounds would be welcome? The question is, why are you dieting again?
Many of us get tired of how we look in clothes. We look at the models in magazines and on TV shows and we think- I want to look better, like she does!
But is this realistic? Is this a good reason to change?
It might be. However our nations obsession with skinny or very slender, is just not realistic or healthy. The recent criticism of Jenifer Ringer, the sugar plum fairy in the New York City Ballet’s recent production of the Nutcracker illustrates how warped the perception of beauty can be. Here is a vibrant, healthy, and strong ballerina with (in my opinion) a wonderful figure who was recently slammed by a critic for appearing to have “eaten too many sugar plums herself”. There has happily been a huge backlash against the critic and in support of Ms. Ringer.
There are many reasons to change your diet in a healthy way, or to begin an exercise program. I would say that improved heart and lung fitness, improved strength and flexibility, improved energy and alertness, improvement in disease risk factors are all excellent reasons to “diet”!
When I say “diet”, what I really mean is an improved and healthy eating program. What I do not mean is restriction of major food groups and choosing from a small list of foods for your nutrition. What I mean by “diet” is to eat:
- wide variety of fruits and vegetables
- healthy fats such as olive oils and nuts
- lean meats/fish/poultry
- whole grains such as oatmeal that is not instant and flavored, wild rice, couscous, quinoa, barley
- whole grain bread and pasta with NO bleached flour
- drink water, pure juices, NOTHING with corn syrup, high fructose syrup or any other syrup
- keeping restaurant food as close to all the above as possible, no fast food, very limited sweets
Keeping the this type of eating plan will not only help you lose weight and get slimmer, but more importantly will improve your health so that you can live longer and enjoy doing just that!
Isn’t that what most of us want?
Contact us with questions, comments or concerns! There is much information on this website and soon we will have a program to help with making these changes, and many others in the future.
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