Health & Fitness

Getting motivated to make change happen

When David Bowie penned the song “Changes” (”Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes/Turn and face the strange”), he was commenting on how challenging change can be. And if you’re like most folks, you, too, have a hard time making changes, even when you know you should.

For example, while 51 percent of Americans say they’d like to lose weight and get healthier, only around 26 percent are actively trying. And just about 20 percent of weight-shedding folks lose 10 percent of their body weight and keep it off for a year.

No wonder researchers (and we) keep trying to ID changes that will help you become successful weight-losers and healthy weight-maintainers. Some smart and simple changes include: eating a diet lower in calories and bad fats; eating breakfast; maintaining a consistent eating schedule; and recruiting a weight-loss or exercise buddy. But how do you successfully follow through with those desired changes?

A study in Frontiers of Psychology gathered 44,000 folks and had them try different techniques that might make it easier to successfully accomplish a desired task. They found that the biggest boost came from using a brief self-talk (”I can do it!”) just before doing the task. Researchers suspect that the pat-on-the-back works best because it stimulates pleasant emotions, arouses interest in success and increases intensity about meeting your goal.

So adopt a mantra or make your own. Try “I can make this change, and I can make it stick!” Or before every meal or when confronted with between-meal snacks, tell yourself: “I’m makin’ it stick, because I can. I can do this!” It works!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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