The Year of Yes, ep. 3: Saying YES to ESTABLISHING A NEW HEALTHY HABIT WITH CLARITY AND KINDNESS

  An example of healthy habit changes working, through objective evidence - labs.  

An example of healthy habit changes working, through objective evidence - labs.  

 

This past summer, I was given the diagnosis of pre-diabetes (a.k.a. glucose intolerance or insulin resistance) and hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol and triglycerides). I was shocked and dismayed - me, an integrative and family medicine physician, whose primary practice is *prevention* and who, of course, *knows better.* I was developing metabolic syndrome, a lifestyle-based disorder that increases one's risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, at least 47 million Americans have it.

For me, the new habit was a change toward healthier, #plantbased food choices. I also started a few herbs & minerals to support this change. I have been sticking to this new habit with discipline, but that of course, doesn't mean perfectly.

Perfection is not essential and not realistic when making any new change. We are human after all, and life from time to time can be completely unpredictable. MOST of the time is good enough. Take a look at the results in the photo above, truly remarkable!

When starting a new habit consciously, it's incredibly important to really get into the *WHY* you want/need to make this change. The healthy habits that stick the best and that are easiest to follow have a clear WHY attached to them.

Formed habits mean your choices and actions get to be on auto-pilot, freeing up mental space for other things - like creative thinking. A 2012 British Journal of General Practice article gives us some insight on the development of healthy habits.

"Habits are cognitively efficient, because the automation of common actions frees mental resources for other tasks... [habit formation] begins at the ‘initiation phase’, during which the new behavior and the context in which it will be done are selected. [Then] automaticity develops in the subsequent ‘learning phase' ... and culminates in the ‘stability phase’, at which the habit has formed and its strength has plateaued, so that it persists over time with minimal effort or deliberation."


Better food choices have become more habitual for me. However, once you begin a new healthy habit, know clearly there are going to be days you do it really well and days you miss/forget/falter. Be kind to yourself and have no fear! Tomorrow is always a new beginning.

Your inner critic will encourage you to fail and try hard to make you feel like a failure. Acknowledge your inner critic, say “hi” to it/her/him/them, and then tell it “I acknowledge this voice, but you're not real, this is not me, you don't actually exist." Then remember the WHY you are making the change that you are and begin again. I know this may sound a bit silly but it truly works! Try it!

And remember, life is nothing but a million new beginnings. 💚

 


The Year of Yes is a weekly photo-and-word installment by Dr. Shah written with the purpose of evoking hope, resilience, and a gentle movement toward healthy change in all of us.