Many of you are still adopting healthy resolutions at the start of the year. However, for many, good intentions are quickly replaced by a return to old habits. What if this year we rethink the way we start the year? Interview with Julie Blanchette, holder of a doctorate in microbiology/immunology and healthy lifestyle coach.
You have made the promotion of healthy lifestyles your profession, can you tell me about the obstacles to adopting good habits?
If you ask people, lack of time and low energy are the two biggest obstacles to adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
How do you save time? This is the big question! There are different strategies to maximize our time. That said, how we spend our time is a determining factor. Quebecers watch an average of 28 hours of television per week and spend nearly 2 hours per day on social networks. There's definitely room for a bit of exercise or cooking a healthy meal, right?
In my opinion, we must stop making people feel guilty, but rather try to understand why people do not succeed. Much of the answer lies in the stress and anxiety individuals experience on a daily basis.
A recent study reports that half of the Quebec population says they are anxious. When you feel stressed or anxious, the energy breakdown is quickly felt. The brain therefore needs to seek rapid reinforcement to allow the pressure to be released. This energy deficit becomes an obstacle to the adoption of healthy habits.
Bad habits give us short-term reinforcement, which temporarily relieves our anxiety. Indeed, the consumption of fatty or sugary foods, the consumption of alcohol or drugs, a sedentary lifestyle, comfort via social networks, trigger the production of dopamine in our brain. This type of compensation is short-lived and brings no long-term benefit. This is why when stress and anxiety are poorly controlled, there are negative repercussions on our health that prevent us from adopting other healthy habits.
What do you suggest to start the year off right?
A fundamental element of optimizing one's health is to increase the level of intrinsic motivation in our lives. This motivation is associated with an activity whose goal is to obtain personal satisfaction without expecting to obtain an external reward. Humans are meant to move forward toward important goals. Meeting challenges and persevering towards achieving goals are ways to increase our overall satisfaction. This is the key to increasing our energy level, an essential resource for adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
With inflation and financial insecurity affecting many Quebecers , how can you adopt good eating habits without breaking the bank?
To succeed in adopting healthy habits without breaking the bank, you have to go back to basics. Less than a third of Quebecers eat enough fruit and vegetables a day. It's true that fruits and vegetables are often more expensive, but there are ways to swap some ultra-processed foods for inexpensive fruits and vegetables. Successfully eating well on a budget takes a little more planning, but it is possible. There are a variety of websites that offer strategies for adopting a healthy diet at a lower cost and ideas for healthy recipes at a low price.
How to move if our budget is tight? Do outdoor activities, such as hiking or just walking. Enjoy green spaces and nature near you. The secret is to move, no need to invest in expensive equipment or subscriptions. To help you maintain exercise over time, do activities you enjoy with people you enjoy. Social contacts are essential to increase longevity, and it's free.
Many abandon their resolutions after a few weeks. What is the secret to perseverance?
At the beginning of the year, people tend to set too big goals. Start with smaller goals and create habits that will last over time. It's better to get ten minutes of exercise a day and make it a routine part of your routine than to try to hit the gym three times a week and then give up.
It start small and build over time. Gradually integrate healthy habits combined with intrinsic goals, based on your interests and passions. Take the time to explore, to try new things. Set yourself new challenges, try to achieve goals that make you smile, that are exciting and your motivation will increase significantly. You will then have more energy to integrate good habits. Science has shown that people who have more intrinsic motivation live longer, are healthier and naturally adopt better lifestyle habits. Make your life worthwhile, you'll want to protect it and take care of yourself, that's the strategy for a healthy lifestyle!
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