It is no secret that many people, of all ages and at all stages in their lives, are working to live a healthier lifestyle. For some people that means cutting sugar, eating more veggies, or going to the gym X amount of times per week. For other people that means simply making time for a daily walk with their kids or furbabies. It can even mean drinking less or sleeping more. What does making a healthy lifestyle change for you look like?
Lifestyle changes are hard because well, they are for life! Lifestyle changes aren’t simply a gym membership (raise your hand if you pay but…), eating no sugar for a week, or choosing a salad one time when you go out for lunch. Lifestyles changes mean committing to being different for an extended period of time, committing to doing better and trying harder in a specific area of your life that you have chosen and understanding that you are in control of your own success. Self-efficacy plays a big role in your ability to succeed.
So, let’s talk about self-efficacy, what is it? Self-efficacy is a term that is used to talk about a person’s ability to believe that they are capable of doing the things they set out to do, specifically changing a behavior and getting something specific out of that change. Basically, it means being confident that you don’t need anyone else to motivate you and that only you have control over your own behavior and your own social environment. I think we all like to believe that we believe this right? We say things like “I can do it my damn self.” or “I WILL eat well tomorrow, I know I can do it.” But at the end of the day it seems that sometimes we lose faith in ourselves and if we don’t think we can do it why should anyone else? How will we succeed? It truly comes down the old cliché saying of “You can do whatever you put your mind to.” So, can we actually do what WE put OUR minds to?
It just so happens that research shows that if we can increase our self-efficacy it can help us to improve in different areas of our lives. It is proven that people who are able to increase self-efficacy are also effective in increasing their physical activity. So how do you increase self-efficacy you ask? Engaging in vicarious experiences through people similar to us is a helpful technique when it comes to physical activity self-efficacy… perhaps this works in other areas then? So how do we do this? Have you ever scrolled through your social media feed and thought something like, “Wow, look at Jane! Just months ago, we were lying on our lawn chairs eating potato chips and talking about how we need to shed a few pounds and now she is posting about going to the gym 4 days a week.” Well, Jane seems similar to you. She made a change. Now you might be thinking, “If Jane can do it, I can too!” Congrats! Your self-efficacy just increased! You believe in yourself even just a little more than you did before. I know that I personally find myself following people who look similar to me and have similar interests and often feel very motivated by what they are doing. Science shows that it actually works!
Another way to improve your self-efficacy is to spend some time thinking about your past successes, big or small! Thinking about past experiences where you were successful in your performances helps you to think more positively about your ability to perform in the present. That being said, think about that one-time years ago when you went for a walk every day with your neighbor. Yay you! Good job (now do it again)! Think about way back in high school when you worked your butt off every day during the season of your after-school sport or that one time when you meal prepped for a week straight and felt so great about your ability to stay on track and be so organized. You did it once and you can do it again! Believe in yourself. You can succeed.
So, what should you do?
- Join a Facebook group of like-minded individuals or search tags related to your goal interests on Instagram and find people to follow.
- Journal about some of your past successes, look at old photographs of a time when you were living your best life.
- Call up a friend who you used to do things (work out with, walk with, study with, meal prep with) and reminisce about the good ole days.
- Go look at old social media posts from a time when you were training for a marathon or graduating for high school/college/trade school.
- Join a local running group, group fitness club, or take a healthy cooking class.
- Do yourself a favor and learn to believe that we can all do whatever we set our minds to if we have faith in our own abilities.
- Watch vlogs or read blogs or books about people like you doing what you want to do!
Go out there. Get it. Be great. Believe you can do it!