Crow Wing Energize: New year, new approach

Many reports find the top New Year's resolutions are to diet and eat healthier, and to exercise more and lose weight--which on average, 63 percent of all people include on their lists.

Shane Riffle, CEO of the Brainerd Family YMCA.

Many reports find the top New Year's resolutions are to diet and eat healthier, and to exercise more and lose weight-which on average, 63 percent of all people include on their lists.

According to Forbes, unfortunately, only 8 percent are successful and 8 out of 10 fail by February. Health and fitness is a big industry, reporting about $26.7 billion in revenue for 2017.

Here is a description for a treadmill: "Provides a motivating entertainment-enhanced fitness experience." On television, ads promote nutrition programs guaranteed to succeed. Apps on our phone link to smart watches, which can track inactivity, heart rate, sleep patterns and more. Where does the answer lie? And why is it that year after year, only 8 or 9 percent of those who form New Year's resolutions reach their goals?

Behavioral research has strong data indicating that many people's approach is all wrong. Too often, success has been measured in pounds lost, and it is believed that health, happiness and fitness will follow. The motivation is extrinsic, and while there might be a short-term gain, it usually is not lasting. When we shift this paradigm and take a behavioral approach, it is possible to build intrinsic motivation, which can lead to lasting and transformational change. At the root, many people are at different places in their readiness to change, and how you move toward preparing for change, making change and sustaining change is different for many people. One size does not fit all.

Why not start with envisioning a healthy you and what that looks and feels like? What are the benefits of creating change? Starting with this foundation, the conversation can change from, "I won't" or "I can't," to "I may," "I will," "I am," and eventually, "I still am."


A certified health coach can help provide the initial and ongoing support to help people build the self-efficacy and skills they need to become who they want to be. By building a personal vision of health, individuals or even groups can work collaboratively to build SMART goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant and timed) focusing on a "small steps" approach to change.

A professional coach, or support program such as the National Diabetes Prevention Program or the YMCA Healthy Weight and Your Child, take an evidence-based approach to change. Central to any coaching philosophy is that people are whole and have the answers are inside of them.

Treadmills, weights and fitness classes are all wonderful tools and should be seen as such. It is also important that people find a solution that they enjoy and does not force their heart and mind to disagree. These individual tools are not the answer. The answer lies within each of us.

For those who struggle and have followed the start, stop, try, fail model, your first step might be to sit down and engage in conversation with a coaching professional or to register for a local (evidence-based) program. With your personal vision, social support and attainable goals, you are more likely to reach your destination.

This year, take a look at your health through a different lens. Choose a path that will work for you, where you find the support to develop what is already within you to live your best life.

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