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Eat Better by Aligning Behavior with Your Values

What do you value in life? Whatever it is can help you change your thinking and behavior around self-care, including food and fitness. Success psychology (yes, there is such a thing) and motivational inquiry both tell us that an effective approach to improving behavior is to tie it to what you hold dear and think important above all else, because then what you value becomes the generator for the behaviors you engage in.
Don’t confuse values with goals. We may or may not meet goals, but we generally keep our values no matter what happens. Losing weight specifically for your son’s wedding is a goal (not one I’d endorse), whereas valuing health so you can stick around as long as possible is a value. For instance, if you value staying physically active, even if you can’t do what you used to do (whether from age or injury), you find ways to keep moving and stay fit as best you can. If you value friendship, connection and community, you make sure to have them in your life though friends may come and go and though you may move halfway across the country or around the world.
Here are examples of values you might have and how they might play out to help you take better care of yourself:
Health: When you value your health, you want to eat more nutritiously in just the right amount for your body, prevent disease and illness, and stay in shape so that you’ll have a higher quality of life now and as you age.
Children/Grandchildren: When you want to live long enough to be around to see your children or grandchildren grow up, you keep this value in mind as you go through the day and make choices.
Activity: If you value staying active because your body enjoys and feels better from movement, you’ll want to engage in some sort of activity throughout your entire life, age appropriately, of course.
Role Modeling: Whether for children, grandchildren or friends, if your idea of who you are is a leader, teacher, and role model for others, you’ll want to be as fit as you can be to show others that this is possible.
Persistence and Tenacity: If you value and think of yourself as someone who perseveres no matter what, moving toward being a “normal” and healthy eater and staying in good shape will follow naturally from your valuing these “can do” qualities.
So, again, what are your values? Name five of them, then use them to support your quest for better health. Not only will you stay motivated, but you’ll feel better and prouder about putting behavior into alignment with what is most important to you.
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