Healthy lifestyle change takes time Be patient!

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Like a lot of people, Kevin started out the new year with a promise to exercise more.

And like a lot of people, he began well, with M-W-F workouts, plus Saturday or Sunday. But just for a few weeks. A month into it, Kevin is back to his old habit of working out on weekends only. He's not happy. But he just can't find the time ...

Lisa's also fallen off the healthier habits wakeup wagon. Her new year resolutions had to do with losing weight. Sound familiar? No fried anything, more fruits and vegetables, no snacking. In January, Lisa looked ahead to June, to wearing shorts and a T-shirt in public, and promised herself that she would lose what? 15 pounds, maybe 20? Forget it. It's not happening. In fact, Lisa thinks her best black pants feel tighter than usual

Kevin and Lisa now know what we all know: Change is hard. If you're a month or so into your own new year's resolutions and feeling like a failure because new habits haven't clicked in and old ways of doing things are winning the day, listen up. You are not alone. Change is a big challenge. It's a test of who you are and a way to get baby-steps closer to who you want to be. It takes time. You have to be patient. Keep in mind:

1. Change is not linear. Expect to fail your first (few) times out. Progress doesn't take place in a straight line. It's a few steps forward, a step or two back, and so it goes. That's normal. Don't blame yourself.

The trick is to get smarter with each try to make a better, more realistic plan.

2.You must have a plan. The more specific you are, the more you make your goals concrete and realistic, the more you write down and objectify exactly how you are going to go about changing, the greater your likelihood of success.

That's why keeping a journal is so important. Or recruiting a fitness partner. Or for some joining a support group that shares a common understanding of what it means to eat in a healthy, balanced way. Part of the plan should be making sure you're implementing changes because you want to, not because someone wants you to.

3. Accept responsibility. You are responsible for your own healthy growth. Others may help, but no drug, no pill, no potion, no quick-fix can do for you what you must ultimately do for yourself.

When it comes to living a healthier lifestyle, that means finding a way to enjoy more physical activity from yoga to square-dancing, from walking to water sports. It's your choice.

Another big part of a healthier lifestyle is getting a better handle on the foods you eat, learning to enjoy fluids and foods that taste good and are good for you. OK, dealing with stress is important too, and if that's not on your list of changes for the new year, it should be.

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