Action is what counts: Bridging the gap between health knowledge and behavior transformation Quality Life Forum Advocacy and Empowerment Series October, 2019
As health science develops globally and information technology become more efficient than ever today, new health information from all channels and connections (television and digital news, social media, emails and blogs, phone and texts, etc) come to us quickly. It can be a bit of overwhelming, but provided us great resource access and opportunities for lifelong learning.
Keeps us informed on current trends and updated on new health science discoveries.
Keeps our mind refreshed and renewed, which leads to behavior transformation.
Sharpens our mentality for possibility, from real life experiences of successes and failures.
Give us a better understanding and may changes our perception with divers viewpoints.
Knowledge gives us an edge ahead and enable us for making educated decisions/choices.
In general, the process from information receiving, knowledge building and transformation into practice for health benefits is in a three-step flow:
Information validation and cognitive processing (scan commercials/scams and knowing it’s health value).
Transform the learned knowledge into useful skills and apply them in real life.
Practice, including be able to adjust new skills in variable conditions, for results and sustainable health benefits
Knowledge is power. The behavior transformation is from knowledge. Behavior is the end result that is the only way knowledge can be beneficial. However, it doesn’t happen magically but requires significant time and effort. Bridging the gap between "knowing" and "doing" is a common struggle.
It is true, deep down in our heart, we know what is good things to eat or to do for a healthier and happier life. But despite knowing all of that, we may not ACT on it. In reality, it’s very common in many people.
My story: I love comfort food. I hate to feel dissatisfied. I perfectly understood that weight management success is 80% intake and 20% exercise. But for a long time, I was so reluctant to give up what I want to eat, when I want to eat, and how I want to eat it. I was gaining weight slowly, regardless my exercise efforts. I realized that my body is changing as aging naturally. I must make some changes as well. I was determined to change my eating pattern. It was challenging, not only difficult for changing personal eating behavior, but more difficult to make family meals to satisfy the family needs.
My actions: So I made up a plan and took three key actions, while maintaining my exercise routine:
Practice intermittent fasting (limit eating window from 1 pm – 7 pm daily); it is not a diet but a simple way for control. Let breakfast to be an individual choice is a good rule for the family.
Study more about nutrition and food science. Find healthy ways for meal preparation and be conscious about portion control (balance vegetables/meat/carbs in portion and stop eating at 70% full) for each meal.
Drink green tea or water (limit sugary drinks) and stay well hydrated (about 1 – 1.5 liter daily).
My results: I gradually dropped 15 lbs. This may not sound a lot, but I see it as a significant improvement. Most importantly, my weight has been maintained in (the mid of) my normal BMI range for over 3 years now. I reset my baseline weight and my comfort zone as well. Although it was very hard not to eat after dinner when first started intermittent fasting, it became natural and comfortable after 2 – 3 weeks. I gained more confidence moving toward. The bonus was that my healthy meal planning and cooking also benefited my family for healthy eating and weight loss.
Set wellness goal with clear vision and firm commitment.
Transform the goal into concrete action plan and find ways to make it happen.
It’s OK to test the reality and see how it goes; make one small step at a time.
At the new milestone, see what this experience draw out hidden potentials from original comfort zone and boost confidence to face the next challenge.
Be resilient and reward progress made positively.
II. Fear for failure and lack of confidence: We have self-doubt and afraid of failure. We are trying to do something never did before or have failed in the past; will it work?
My story: When I learned about cutting back sugar and carbohydrates intake for healthy eating, it was a bad news to me. I love carbs; I can’t have a meal without it. I feel weak and lightheaded on empty stomach and a carb refill works magically. I was afraid of cutting back carb intake may cause hypoglycemia episode as I had in the past.
My actions: this is what I did –
Cut 50% carb portion for lunches with increased salad portion.
Learning more about blood sugar regulation – based on evidence based reports and personal experiences, blood sugar level peaks up to 2 hours after a meal and exercise with a full stomach is safe.
Tryout workout schedule to establish the best routine: I tried different times when I “feel like it” to exercise and find out that after meal is my best energy level for aerobic activities, mornings are great for flexibility and balance, evenings is perfect for strength training.
My results: with good planning for food intake and physical activity throughout the day, I never had a hypoglycemia episode after cutting back on carbs. I also learned that carb is not the only food to fill up for energy. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are healthy calorie sources and enjoyable as well.
Recognize fears and the underlying causes. Ask “what I am afraid of?” and answer it honestly. Compare the worst and best possible outcomes for risk assessment and seeks optimal solution.
Accept setbacks are step stones on the journey to success, knowing trial by error is part of the learning. Occasional bad eating or weight fluctuations are acceptable. As long as you are not giving up, you are not failed.
Knowledge is power; keep learning will enhance confidence in facing unknown or unexpected.
Carry out actions in a confident, comfortable, and consistent manner.
III. Lack of time and commitment: Too busy is a common excuse for activities involves time commitment, such as daily exercise.
My story: Life is always busy. When possible, I would rather laying around to catch up some rest, but I was always feeling tired. When I read about exercise refills energy and treating fatigue effectively, I did not believe it. What? I was already so tied, wishing to rest more and getting up was a huge effort. It took me some time to study in more depth of the life style medicine and science behind exercise to became convinced, then committed to change my sedentary life. I understood that everyone has 24 hours in a day; no more and no less. What got done is what we prioritize. Behaviors transformation requires hard work and consistency.
Set wellness for high priority, fit it in on daily schedule. No excuses.
Start with short (15 – 30 minutes) easy sessions and gradually increase time and level at your own pace.
Include the 4 types of activities – aerobics, strength, flexibility, and balance in the routine.
Faithfully stick with healthy eating and fitness routine with daily tracking record keeping.
My Results: It took a lot of efforts to build and maintain exercise routine as part of my daily life, but it pays off. I am feeling well and energetic overall. It is true, energy is use it or lose it; each workout is a wonderful experience and it service the mind and body. I trust regular physical activity also benefits me for healthy aging in many ways. Focusing on healthy behavior and activities is well worth for quality of life in the long run.
Establish a healthy routine, which is a series of behaviors/activities build into daily practice, with aerobics, strength, flexibility, and balance included.
Make sure book the time (for example, a 30 minutes exercise session) on the schedule. Even a short 10 - 15 minutes bolus will refresh and make a difference, just do your best.
Review and track at end of each day; holding yourself to be accountable to carry out the actions as planned and reward accomplishments.
The key take away messages:
You know it well. Do it now. Don’t wait. Action is what it counts.
Take breaks while on vacations and set an allowance for comfort food pleasure are acceptable. Too strict diet may be hard to follow and self-discipline is essential to prevent cheating. The best eating pattern is what works for you and you can stick with. Combine healthy eating with exercise routine is most effective for wellness maintenance.
The weight has up and down days, don’t see it as a failure. Don’t give up. Be confident that results will sustain with continued efforts. The great feeling after workout is your reward for short term effort and quality of life improvement is your reward in the long run.
Action call: Take action today; don’t put it off. You are not alone; we may have different situations but also share something basic in common. Contact email@example.com for a free call. An individualized coaching program can help you achieving your personal health goals.
Summary Knowledge is power and enable us to make educated choices for healthy living. Behavior is the end result that is the only way knowledge can be beneficial. It doesn’t happen magically but requires significant time and effort. Bridging the gap between "knowing" and "doing" is a common struggle. You know it well. Do it now. Don’t wait. Action is what it counts. Be confident that results will sustain with continued efforts.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational and informational purposes only.
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