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Ready for a Health Change? There’s a Science to That

I’m going to let you in on a secret because I am that passionate about what I do. In case you’re wondering, my entire job is built upon helping you become the healthiest version of yourself. Here at UF/IFAS Extension in Duval County, I am known as a Life Skills & Wellness Digital Media Influencer. That’s just a swanky way of saying my goal is to improve attitudes, knowledge, and skills when it comes to wellness. I want you to adapt and adopt healthy behaviors, and let me tell you why…

I wholeheartedly believe everyone has the right to be healthy, but I know from firsthand experience that a healthy choice isn’t always an easy choice. That’s why we as agents meet you wherever you are and walk with you.

Change is hard

We hear it time and time again, we experience it time and time again, and it is proven true time and time again: Change is hard. Though your path on the health journey may be treacherous at times – maybe there are cobblestones, or you feel the path is one never-ending hike up a snowy mountain: “I can’t get to the top, because I didn’t even bring a coat.” Believe me, I get it. But do yourself a favor and check those thoughts at the door right now. Why? Because, where you sit, reading this article, you are simply one choice away from changing your life. Do you want to start meditating? Eat or cook like a champion? Run a marathon, but you’ve never made it around the block without getting winded? That’s OKAY!

While I cannot provide you with a proverbial ski lift to the top of that mountainous goal of yours, what I can do is give you the tools you need to succeed. I can give you a warm jacket, some soup, and a map so you can plan where you will go, how you will get there, and how long it will take. If you read this far, you already prepared yourself to change just by simply thinking about it. And that’s it, that’s the science, that’s the secret to success.

When we build health programs, our goal is to help you change, to help you succeed. Because if you succeed, we all do. If you read the Holistic Healthy Behaviors blog article, written by Natasha Parks and me, maybe some of this sounds familiar. That’s because it relates back to the Stages of Change, a behavior theory rooted in psychology, which happens to be one of many (albeit one of the most popular) tactics we use, as public health experts, to help Florida residents live healthier lives.

Small changes lead to big results

Yeah, okay; so, this doesn’t seem like much of a secret, does it? Well, the real kicker is that you can use this psychology on yourself to hike way up to the tip-top of Goal Mountain, and the way to begin is to simply make one small change or decision today. And then, when the sun rises again tomorrow, as it always does, do it again, and again, and again. Before you know it, you have a healthy habit for life. In fact, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it can take as little as 18 (and an average of 66) days to form a new habit (Lally, et al., 2009). So, before you know it, you reached your goal, and you might even help others reach their goals too because you are inspiring. Did you know that? YOU are the real INFLUENCER here, and that’s the truth.

Taking the plunge

If you have decided to live a healthier lifestyle, but are not sure how to begin, drop me a line at johnstona@ufl.edu. I’m happy to help you take action; your success is my success. No strings attached, just a healthier you waiting on the other side, backed by the science of better living. Oh, and before I go, if you want to see a little snippet of my personal health journey, find me on Instagram @JaxLivingWell. You can also check for upcoming programs by visiting qrco.de/LivingWell. We all must start somewhere, and we should all be willing to be a beginner each and every day.

Is today your day to begin?