Small but consistent daily changes to our lifestyle and diet can result in significant benefit to our health over the long term. As told so articulately in the song written and sung by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody the small but consistent changes in the lives of the Gurindji people, so many years ago, lead to significant gains for them in the longer term. We can also apply the concepts sung about in this song to our own life journey.
Making health and lifestyle changes can be hard. Our habits have formed over many years and although the brain can rationally tell us things must change, the body is often not so willing. We also frequently have social and family playing interference to our good intentions – again worded in the same song “Now it don’t sound like much but it sure got tongues talking. Back at the homestead and then in the town”
So how do we do it? For some of us it might entail a ‘cold turkey’ approach. For others ‘the gently as she does it’ is a better approach. If we are thinking about reducing our alcohol consumption perhaps ‘cutting back’ to one or two drinks a day won’t work. Almost as soon as alcohol enters the blood stream it has been proven to lower one’s personal inhibitions, and very quickly the word ‘no’ disappears from our vocabulary. From personal experience I know how hard this approach is. An alternative method may be to start with one or two days a week alcohol free and slowly build up to one week and then reassess whether you want to aim for 4 weeks. How long it takes to form a new habit can vary between individuals, the type of change, and the circumstances of the change. In one published study, it took an average of 66 days for participants to form the new habit, but between individuals anywhere from 18 days to 254 days (1).
With calorie restriction perhaps the 80:20 rule will work. This is where you choose to eat healthy foods 80 per cent of the time, and indulge in your favourite treats 20 per cent of the time. This works well for those who don’t want to be too rigid and restrictive in their eating. However, when food allergies have been identified the only option is total elimination of the food group.
Whether you want to lose weight, manage stress, develop healthy eating habits, or reduce inflammation a key to your success may be with a functional medicine specialist. Intuitively we often KNOW WHAT TO DO but having someone supporting us on our journey and keeping us accountable can mean the difference between success and failure. Functional medicine addresses the whole person, and integrates an individual’s history with their genetic, environmental, and lifestyle situation that can influence long-term health. In this way, Functional Medicine supports the unique needs and expression of health and vitality for each person.
1. Lally P, van Jaarsveld CHM, Potts HWW, Wardle J. 2010. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology 40 (6) 998-1009