Health Behavior Flexibility is Good for Your Weight & Health

Do you approach improving your weight and health with a more flexible or inflexible mindset?

If you’re unsure, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you someone who has strict rules you tell yourself you must follow?
  • Do you have a long list of forbidden foods that you must not eat?
  • Do you feel guilty when you don’t follow the rules?

If this sounds like you, know that approaching health behaviors with inflexibility, using absolute terms like ‘never’ or ‘must’ is not a realistic way to live.

One thing we know for sure is that life doesn’t always go as planned, making it helpful to have flexible backup plans when needed.

This applies to the many health behaviors that can impact your weight and health such as your eating, physical activity and stress management coping skills.

Studies also show that being flexible in your approach to eating and losing weight is associated with a healthier body weight, more success in keeping weight off, less psychological distress and improved well-being.

Here are some examples to help nudge you toward more flexibility and better health:

1 – Instead of denying yourself all dessert-type foods, you find some treat options that are satisfying enough where you only need 100 to 200 calories worth.

2 – Instead of giving up all alcohol, you enjoy a glass of wine on your nights out, one or two times per week.

3 – Instead of squeezing in going to the health club on your busiest days, you take time to get in brisk walking and use your wearable activity tracker to get credit for putting your body in motion.

4 – Instead of foregoing your exercise time because your walking buddy is sick, you adapt by listening to a podcast or watching a favorite TV show at home while riding your indoor bike.

5 – Instead of skipping meditation because your class was cancelled, you still take time to meditate, using your smart phone meditation app. Self-care is an important part of your healthy lifestyle journey.

I hope these examples give you more ideas for following health behaviors that are realistic and doable for your lifestyle.

If you’re looking for a weight management program that encourages behavioral flexibility, check out my self-help book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You!

Having alternative eating, physical activity and stress management plans for when life gets in the way will keep you feeling in better control.

Healthy eating and living are all about finding foods and activities you enjoy and without feeling deprived.

Health behavior flexibility is key in your quest for better health.

Think progress, not perfection.


Robert Kushner, MD

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