5 Keys to Making Healthy Changes

girl in sport

Medically reviewed in March 2022

Want to be a healthier eater, a more interesting partner, a faster worker, a better parent? You may know exactly what it takes, yet something holds you back from doing it.

To break the bonds that keep you clinging to harmful habits and unproductive behavior, heed some real-life lessons and advice from Lisa Oz -- writer, actress, producer, president of Oz Works, mother of four, and (yes) wife of "America's Doctor," Mehmet Oz, MD.

Breaking the Chains
The real key to lasting change -- always passing up doughnuts for a fat-free yogurt with berries, for instance -- lies somewhere between what we know and what we do. It's what we think. So if change has you stymied, try these five thought-changers from Lisa's new book, US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most.

  1. Create a compelling reason to change. "I've learned to link the idea of healthy eating to things that really, really matter to me, like being a better mom by setting a good example for my kids or staying sexy so Mehmet stays interested. This raises the stakes," writes Lisa.
  2. Don't associate pain with the desired action. "I find something in the new behavior that I can enjoy so that needing to be disciplined is no longer a factor," she writes. "Since most forms of exercise are anathema to me, I make running palatable by letting myself watch TV only when I am on the treadmill."
  3. Disrupt the routine. Have a habit you'd like to break, like smoking or swearing? Lisa proposes disrupting the routine in a surprising way. "When you catch yourself in the middle of an unwanted action," she writes, "insert a completely incongruous word, thought, or action." For example, if you catch yourself cussing like a sailor, say "lemon custard," hop backward, or think about naked windsurfing.
  4. Change the story. What story are you telling yourself that makes it harder to change? When you hear it in your head, Lisa recommends breaking the pattern by mixing it up. "One way is to change nouns," Lisa writes. "For example, if the story is 'I would be happy if only Johnny would get back together with me,' try 'My dog, Fifi, would be happy if only Johnny would get back together with me.' The whole thing becomes absurd, and the story loses some of its power over you."
  5. Don't wait until you feel like changing. Act even when you don't want to. Sometimes you just need to do it. The purpose and the passion will come once you're engaged.

Did You Know?
Change that leads to personal growth, good health, and solid relationships doesn't just happen. If you want to direct your life rather than simply react to what life brings to you, curl up with Lisa Oz's new book, US. Her real-world, real-life revelations underscore that the path to self-discovery starts in your dealings with others.

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