Changing habits can be done one step at a time

Did 2009 fly by for you? As we all know this has been an extremely busy and, at times, stressful year. It's at this time when many people begin to think about what they have and have not accomplished in the past year and turn to making resolutions for the New Year. This can be stressful in itself, after all who likes to make resolutions that you may never get around to or are difficult to keep?

You don't have to wait until New Year's to make some changes to your own health and wellness, and as Everett Mámor states, "Without health, there is no point. To anything."

So how to do this without adding to both your stress and to that list of things that never get done?

First step – start small! Everyone remembers the SMART acronym – Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timely. As far as taking stock of your health and wellness and making some positive changes, the most important part of this acronym is "Achievable". Making sure your goals are achievable is a huge factor in determining how successful you will be.

Throughout my year here at the University, I have met a number of people who have made small (and some not so small) changes to their own health and wellness by taking achievable steps. Here is a story, may it inspire you – not make you feel guilty or overwhelmed with one more thing you need to do – but prompt you to take a look at your own health and wellness and bring you one step closer to feeling less tired, having more energy, or just having some fun.
Venkat Mahadevan works as a Technical Specialist in Fine Arts, New Media. Venkat told me that a year ago he weighed 195 lbs and realized this was not an ideal weight for him. He felt drained of energy and thought it might have something to do with his diet. So he decided to cut out the "unholy trinity" (his words) of junk foods – pop, chips and sugar (especially chocolate).

Venkat started out making small changes first by cutting out a few candy bars a week, and soon started replacing these types of foods with fruit. He noticed that he was starting to lose weight. Then he did some research on what types of food he should eat and started including more vegetables, fruits and whole grains in his diet. He then cut out fried foods and white breads. Venkat says that he now avoids buying any of the unholy trinity foods at the grocery store. By summer he had lost between 46 and 50 lbs and this has stabilized over the past few months. He has noticed a positive change in his energy levels and just "feels better". In fact, when he does slip and eat some of the junk foods, he notices a definite change in how he feels after eating – and not for the better.

Recently, Venkat took one more small step; he made an appointment to see Diane Britton, Health Centre dietitian. Diane was able to add a few healthy eating tips but mostly encouraged his habits and reinforced that he was doing the right thing. He suggested it might have been more helpful to see her earlier on in his journey to healthy eating.