MHH - Introduction
Welcome to a journey on exploring your health
habits. This brief outline describes how you can use this book to improve your
health and help others.
How to Use This Guidebook
A (Explore Unhealthy Habits) prepares you to address
your unhealthy habits. Chapter 1 helps you assess your readiness to change your
unhealthy habits. Chapter 2 helps you learn more about change. If you are really
eager to change (for example, to quit smoking), go straight to Section B (Chapters
Section B (Become Your Own Health
Coach) helps you
create your own personal journal about exploring change. This section is in four
Your Issues about Change
Lower Your Resistance
Increase Your Motivation
Make Plans for Change
If youre eager and ready to change, read Chapters
35 quickly and spend more time on Chapter 6. For example, if youre
a smoker and are ready to quit, Chapter 6 can help you learn about treating nicotine
addiction and preventing relapses. These chapters provide many learning exercises
to help you change. You may find some exercises more helpful than others. As you
become familiar with the different options, youll learn which ones work
best for you. You can also use the motivation score and goal charts explained
in these chapters to monitor change over time.
C (Helping Others) describes how you can become a
motivational coach to family and friends who have unhealthy habits. You can share
what you have learned to help them work through this book. Then, invite them to
assess their health behaviors and read the book. On the other hand, if you want
additional support to change your own behavior, consider asking someone else to
read Chapter 7. Chapter 8 describes how to become a preventive coach for your
children. You can help them develop healthy habits and avoid starting unhealthy
Although you can
read this book in one sitting, its far better to do a few exercises at a
time. Do the exercises at a pace that works for you. You decide which ones to
do and when. Many exercises are worth doing more than once. You can pick sections
of the book to read again, and to address particular issues that are important
Any past failures
at changing an unhealthy habit may make you feel discouraged and hopeless. These
feelings can make you feel like giving up altogether. But you will succeed if
you never quit trying to quit. With
each failure, you learn something new about your unhealthy habit that you can
use when you try again. People vary widely in how quickly they change. Some can
take a giant leap forward in a few days and others take years to change.
directly in this guidebook or keep a separate journal or diary. A journal can
keep your notes private and make it easier to look back over them. Whether or
not you write directly in this book, consider making a copy of the decision balance
(on page 57). Your decision balance is the most important tool to help you think
In brief, decide for yourself how you
can best use this book. You can work with any of the following options: alone,
or with support from family members and/or friends, online programs (based on
this book), and lay health organizations and helping professionals. The latter
two groups may wish to organize small groups with coaches, or provide telephone
support counseling. And remember, not everyone can change without professional
help. This book also helps you decide whether or not to seek professional help.
Back Your Health
from unhealthy to healthy habits is seldom
easy. We think that we should change but
dont really feel like it. We tend
to remain on autopilot - doing what we have
to do, without thinking deeply or exploring
our feelings about change. Our good intentions
fail, and we quickly slip back to old ways.
To break unhealthy habits and stay solidly
on a new course, we need to move beyond
which involves increasing
our knowledge, thinking about change
setting goals, to
which involves exploring our feelings, understanding
changing our views and values
This no-advice guidebook will help you address
deep questions. To what extent do you
Overlook what you do to yourself (mind)?
Sacrifice your long-term, physical health
Give in to short-term, emotional rewards
Say that you value your health (soul) but
still dont achieve lasting change?
Your journal will help you to
Understand your issues about change
Lower your emotional resistance
Increase your motivation
Make a plan for change
Stay involved in the change process
Learn how your mind, body, heart and soul
can work together and not against one another.
You can use what you learned from changing
one unhealthy habit and applying it to another.
Create Your Own Personal Evidence
Behavior change determines
the success of any program. To increase your
prospects of improving your health habits,
effective programs must move beyond providing
Health information, advice and self-management
Motivational approaches to behavior change
However, motivational approaches cant
be reduced to the research logic of drug studies.
Our feelings usually affect our behavior much
more than logic. Programs need to move beyond
Providing you with superficial objective evidence
found in research studies
works for the average person), to
Helping you create deep personal evidence
(what works for you in particular),
as discovering new inspirations, purpose and
meaning in life
To generate deep personal evidence, you become
the researcher of your own health behaviors.
This guidebook will help you create a journal
of personal evidence to help you thrive in
a disease-producing world.
in a Disease-producing World
We live in a world that
has an extraordinary capacity to produce
diseases. Unhealthy media messages bombard
us everywhere, every day. For example, tobacco
corporations are more effective in producing
diseases than health care organizations
are in promoting health. The tobacco
reach its peak in 2030 years to cause
one in eight deaths worldwide; 70% of these
10 million deaths per year will occur in
developing countries. Alcohol and drug problems
persist. The war on drugs will not be won.
diet, unfitness and
in developed countries) are getting worse.
The AIDS problem and malnutrition epidemics
are worst in third world countries. Preventing
AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and sexually
transmitted diseases is a constant challenge
throughout the world.
habits will increase the rates and burden
of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart
disease and osteoarthritis. Half of all
people on long-term medications for chronic
diseases stop taking them after two years.
Most people find it challenging to take
good care of their chronic diseases.
diseases can be traced back to unhealthy
habits starting at a young age. Children
who watch more television exercise less
and weigh more. We are raising the next
generation on unhealthy habits. We overlook
these facts and fail to address these trends
at our peril. Our lack of effective action
Secretary of Health Joseph Califano says
that individuals can make a huge difference:
are killing ourselves by our own careless
habits. You, the individual, can do more
your own health and well-being than any
doctor, any hospital, any drug, or any
But we spend far greater resources on developing
magic bullets to cure diseases than on helping
people develop healthy habits to prevent
diseases. It is estimated that unhealthy
behaviors contribute to 50% of preventable
mortality, and yet, medical care can only
address 10% of preventable deaths.
and treatment of unhealthy habits can reduce
unnecessary costs in health care and is
more effective and cheaper than curing diseases.
But it is difficult to make money on prevention,
unlike expensive, new drugs that make health
care costs go up even more. Concerns about
increasing health care costs may encourage
governments to use prevention as a cost-saving
measure. But in the meantime, what can we
do as individuals? How about trying to introduce
this principle into your daily life:
Put Your Health and the Health of Others
Being healthy involves
caring about ourselves and others. If we remain
healthy, were stronger and more able
to help others. But even when we value this
principle, we often struggle with walking
the talk. We think we should improve our health,
but we often dont feel like it. We trade
instant emotional gains (e.g., smoking to
relax) for long-term losses in our physical
health (e.g., lung diseases). Our hearts rule
our heads, putting our health at risk.
demands of balancing family and work life
create different challenges for men and
women in putting this healthy principle
into practice. We sacrifice our health in
different ways. Typically, men place a higher
value on their work than on their health,
and women place a higher value on their
families than on their health. Caregivers
often care for others more than themselves.
far easier to see what others need to change
about themselves than to change ourselves.
So what are your unhealthy habits? To put
your health first is easier said than done.
This principle may challenge you to alter
your value system. This book will help you
go beyond understanding better your thoughts
and feelings to exploring your views and
values about behavior change.