Healthy Living in the North

Make health fun in 2015

Two skiers on a chairlift on a ski hill.

Getting outside and trying new activities are two ways that Mandy plans to make health fun in 2015. How will you make health fun?

As 2014 comes to an end, many of us already have New Year’s resolutions dancing through our heads, wondering what commitments we will make to improve our health for 2015.

It seems as though exercising more, saving money, losing weight and quitting smoking are what most people hope to achieve for the upcoming year. The problem with resolutions is that 60% of adults make these promises each year but, of those, only about 40% will be successful. I admit that I have been guilty of this in the past: my commitment to run a half-marathon is going on six years and I don’t think this will be the year, either. So this year, I am taking a new approach: I am going to commit to having some fun in 2015!

Not “whoop it up and book a trip to Vegas” fun, but thinking of ways to improve my health with a focus on enjoyment at the same time. I am going to commit to:

  • Trying activities that are new to me. Zumba? Cross-country skiing? Geocaching? Yoga? Maybe I’ll find something I like and stick with it – and I have a better chance of accomplishing this if I bring a buddy with me!
  • Healthy meal planning. In the hustle and bustle of life, I often find it a struggle to make nutritious and delicious choices for my family at mealtimes and it’s not fun to be scrambling at the last minute. For 2015, I will focus more on meal preparation. I plan to enlist the help of my friends for new recipe ideas and my kids to help out in the kitchen. Maybe I will fit in a few potlucks and dinners with friends, too!
  • Getting outside more often. I really enjoy the outdoors and the fresh air and dose of vitamin D come as added bonuses. We have amazing natural environments in northern B.C. and four wonderful seasons. I will enjoy these with more snowshoeing, exploring new trails, playing soccer with my kids, bike riding, and going wherever my feet can take me! By committing to this at least a few times a week, I will also get in my recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week!

How will you make health fun in 2015?

Mandy Levesque

About Mandy Levesque

Mandy Levesque is Northern Health’s Lead, Healthy Community Development, Integrated Community Granting. Born and raised in northern Manitoba, Mandy and her family moved to Prince George in 2013. Mandy has a background in public health and health promotion and is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. She is passionate about innovation and quality, empowering northern populations, and promoting health and wellness across communities. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys spending time with her family and stays active by taking in the exciting activities, trails, and events northern B.C. has to offer.

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Motivating change

A device that measures your healthy activity and the smart phone where the info is displayed.

You can combine fitness and technology to help keep you healthy goals on track.

A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about New Year’s resolutions and setting up a plan to help you succeed. I have my S.M.A.R.T. goal written down to keep me on track, so how can I fail?!? If only it were that easy! This follow-up piece is to talk about motivation. Outside of having my wife, family, and friends support me to help me stay motivated, self-talk and a few props can go a long way in filling some gaps!

What happens when I miss my workout or smoke a cigarette or eat that extra rich dessert? At that point, negative self-talk has the potential to derail everything. How many times have you said to yourself, “I have blown it,” “I can’t do it,” “I am weak,” or “I am a failure?” Our self-esteem takes a hammering and makes it hard for us to do anything other than return to the behaviour we wish to change. Often, this leads us to continue to undo all of the good work we have accomplished.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Many studies have shown that kind and positive self-talk is the most effective thing you can do to stay true to your goals. “I am worthy,” “I can do this,” “I lasted two weeks last time and I can do better this time.” Try it the next time you have a setback. It has been shown that during a quit attempt from smoking, kind self-talk is as effective as nicotine replacement therapy.

Finally, as someone who enjoys technology, I have become very interested in wearable health devices and smartphone apps. For about $100 you can purchase a device to monitor and track your daily steps (for example, a Fitbit). This is a great way to see if you are as active as you think you are, track your daily and weekly goals, and even share your journey with friends and colleagues for some healthy competition.

 In 2013, it is estimated that over 35,000 apps are dedicated to health and fitness.

In recent years, the market for apps has exploded. You can find an app to do just about anything. I have an app that tracks my goals and sends me reminders when I need to run or exercise. I also have an app that counts my pushups when I touch my phone with my nose and cheers when I reach my daily targets. With these props, I am all set for motivating my new routine. I can hardly wait to get started!

You can also use SMS text messages to keep your motivation levels high. Two of my colleagues agreed to send each other a motivational, supportive message each day to keep on track. It’s a simple and effective plan and, so far, they are both reporting a positive impact to their healthy goals.

Power-up your self-esteem in 2014; Take control and imagine how healthy and happy the “future you” will be. The time you spend building resilience will pay dividends in the future. Be inspired and become the inspiration for your family and friends. You can do it!

What do you do to keep yourself motivated for change?

Michael Melia

About Michael Melia

Michael Melia is the director for northwest mental health and addiction services. He is a registered psychiatric nurse and has a bachelor’s of science in nursing and has recently completed a master’s in business administration. Michael is serving as an elected board member for the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses. When not working, he enjoys spending time with family, keeping fit and exploring rural B.C.

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