Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Health

To form good habits, put in the work that change requires

Changing habits so that you lose weight, get fit and manage your health successfully is certainly not an easy task. Patients often say, "It's easier said than done, Doc." I always agree with them because they're absolutely right.

However, everything is easier said than done, isn't it?

Recently, I was talking shop with a colleague, describing some of the steps my patients have been taking.

"I wish my patients would be willing to do that kind of work,'' he told me. "I can get them to take a pill but I can't get them to do the work."

Of course it's easier to take a pill than to do the psychological and physical work required to make major changes. But pills don't produce lasting, fundamental change. Sometimes it's necessary also to take medication, but typically, it's the work that makes the most difference and helps any necessary medication to work most effectively.

The statement "It's easier said than done" serves no useful purpose if one is serious about life changes. Hanging on to this statement is a way to continue to procrastinate, to keep from confronting any fears we may have that are keeping us from starting to change, and to delude ourselves into thinking that we have no power.

So, when a patient says, "It's easier said than done, Doc," I say, "You're right. Now, how much do you want to change?"

Another frequent statement I hear from people when they come across life problems is, "I can't." This is a guaranteed showstopper because as soon as you say it, your brain turns off.

Nothing gets better when we say, "I can't.'' But ask, "How can I ... ?" and your brain seeks solutions. This is what therapy is all about, whether you're working with a professional or embarking on a self-help program. It's about acknowledging a problem, accepting the difficulty of it and searching for ways to solve it. That process is paralyzed by saying, "I can't."

Solutions are rarely easy, but the only hope of finding answers is to look for them.

Perhaps you feel you have a problem with finding time to exercise because you have small children and a full-time job. If you say, "I can't exercise because I'm too busy," that's that. You'll just have to accept that being unfit and frustrated is your destiny.

Or you can ask yourself, "How can I find the time to exercise?" Maybe you'll decide to try playing active music while cleaning the house and skip, hop and jump through domestic chores. Or you might decide to start a walking lunch group with your co-workers. You might even persuade your spouse to help plan active family outings on weekends. And, if you did all these, imagine the progress you'd make. It might not have been the way you thought you "should" exercise, but your body won't know the difference. Problem solved.

Successful people have mastered the art of not quitting, accepting that good things often require effort and creativity.

It's important to learn to listen to what we say to ourselves and how those statements affect our behavior. Are you finding that life seems to not cooperate with you? Perhaps the issue is what you're saying to yourself. We can accept that everything is easier said than done and go about addressing the problem anyway. We can also stop saying we can't do something and explore ways that, perhaps, will help us solve the problem — even if not perfectly, or as we once imagined perfection to look.

Lavinia Rodriguez, Ph.D., is a Tampa psychologist and expert in weight management. She is the author of "Mind Over Fat Matters: Psychological Barriers to Weight Management." Send your questions to her at [email protected]

Comments
Exercise myths persist, so let’s fight them

Exercise myths persist, so let’s fight them

When it comes to fitness, can you tell the difference between fact and fiction? Misinformation abounds, and research is continually disproving it. Some myths, like "no pain, no gain," are fading away, but there are plenty more that persist. It’s impo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Residents went three days without running water at unlicensed ALFs

Residents went three days without running water at unlicensed ALFs

ST. PETERSBURG — Three days.That’s how long residents of two unlicensed assisted living facilities went without running water before the authorities shut the facilities down last week.The Public Works Department said it turned off the water at 3418 a...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Veteran who survived blast receives unusual penis transplant

WASHINGTON — A veteran who lost his genitals from a blast in Afghanistan has received the world’s most extensive penis transplant, and doctors said Monday he’s recovering well and expected to leave the hospital this week. Saying they wanted to addres...
Published: 04/23/18
Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Public health officials are now telling consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak linked to the vegetable that has spread to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including eight inmates at an Alask...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18