Behavior Change for the Better

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Categories: Community Engagement

In partnership with the Keene Sentinel, we recently kicked off Healthy U, a 12-week lifestyle challenge. Our kick-off event was a great success with over 30 people completing their self assessment and developing their personal behavior change contract. This article, published in the Sentinel ELF, is a guide for participants following along from home as they complete their behavior change contract.

Healthy U Self Assessment

Healthy U Behavior Change Contract

Have you ever tried brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand? Or started a new job and found yourself driving to your old job? Behavior change can be tricky, but we can take steps to re-wire our brains and make them work in new ways.

The best place to start is to focus on what you do well and to think about how you can use those strengths for change. For example, you may eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day. Ask yourself, “Why am I successful?” You might be a strong planner with the ability to stick to your plan when shopping for food and planning meals. Now, apply your planning skills to another behavior.  After assessing your behaviors, define what you do well and what you would like to focus on. Your plan will include goals and solutions to barriers and will identify the support and help you’ll need to get around those barriers.

  1. Assessment: While considering a behavior change, think about what you are doing well and what needs improvement. Be honest with yourself as you complete the assessment. When you are done, reflect on the overall picture of your health. The information is intended to help you identify opportunities, not to make you feel guilt or bad – or good!

Next, ask yourself:

  • Where am I doing well? How can I use my strengths to change a new behavior?
  • Where is there room for improvement?
  • Where could I focus for the next 12 weeks?
  1. Plan: As you identify something that you want to change, keep in mind that choosing one step at a time brings the most success.

As you complete the first two questions on the HEALTHY U contract be sure to identify a behavior and then define the current circumstances and situation around that behavior.  For example, you may want to lose weight, but weight loss is an outcome of a behavior. For this contract, you need to define an actual behavior such as tracking your food every day.

Now that you have chosen your focus, the following SMART tips will help you set your short and long term goals.

Specific: Your goal should clearly define your action. For example, “I am going to work out for 30 minutes, five days a week” rather than, “I am going to work out more.”

Measureable: Make sure your goal can easily be measured. You should be able to ask the question, “did I do it or not?

Achievable: Is your goal realistic? What is truly possible for you in your life?

Relevant: Does this make sense in my life? Will it help me feel better?

Timeframe: Defining a timeframe will help you succeed. Taking baby steps to achieve your goal will make you more successful.

  1. Long Term Goal Example:
    In six months, I would like to be working out for 30 minutes, 5 days per week.
  1. Short Term Goals Example:

By the end of May, I will work out for 20 minutes, 3 times a week

By the end of June, I will work out for 30 minutes, 3 times a week

By the end of July, I will work out for 30 minutes, 4 times per week

By the end of August, I will work out for 30 minutes, 5 times per week.

Now, create a plan to achieve the goal and define how you will track and measure. Ask yourself what obstacles you might face and clearly create a plan to overcome those obstacles.

You are now ready to join the Healthy U Lifestyle Challenge. Follow along with the weekly ELF publication for health related articles including recipes and challenges. We encourage participants to join Healthy Monadnock as Individual Champions for additional healthy lifestyle news and events. Sign up as a Champion and follow along as we work together to become the healthiest community in the nation.