Mind & Body

Have a Health Epiphany

Whether you want to swear off sugar or shake up your social life, here’s your guide to making positive changes stick.
Have a Health Epiphany
Pin it Courtesy of Shutterstock

Step 3: Update Your Identity
Now that you’ve taken stock of why you want to change, you need to realize you can change. (Don’t roll your eyes; researchers agree that self-efficacy— aka belief in yourself—is vital to making improvements that last.) What you call yourself can make or break your follow-through: in a Stanford University study, people who identified themselves as voters showed up at the polls 13 percent more often than those who said they planned to vote, probably because casting a ballot made them feel like the good citizens they aspired to be. Rather than thinking “I’m going to exercise more,” say, “I’m an exerciser,” Wilson suggests. Make that concrete by writing it down and even including it in your computer passwords. Reach back as far as you need to for proof that this positive quality is part of your character. Make another list of, for instance, the strength you felt after a half-hour on the elliptical in college or the satisfaction of cooking a healthy side last Thanksgiving. Post the tally somewhere you’ll see it, along with other visual testaments to your past kick butt-ness (e.g., 10k bib). “The more evidence you can give yourself, the better,” Wilson says.