A Healthier Life is One Word Away

Empower yourself to create healthier habits and resist temptation. From working out to eating well to spending more time with your family, psychologists say it’s as easy as using the right words. Here is how you can talk your way into better habits. Give it a try because A HEALTHIER LIFE IS ONE WORD AWAY.

a healthier life is one word away

“I don’t” vs. “I can’t”

A series of studies published in the Journal of Consumer Research show that certain words can subconsciously alter your actions. It’s a reminder that you can “fake it until you make it” even with health and fitness. The main study divided women into three groups following a health seminar. All of the women were told to choose one longterm health-related goal.

  • The first set of women (the control group) were told to “just say no” in the face of temptation. No other further strategies were given.
  • The second group of women was told to say, “I can’t” as in, “I can’t miss a workout today.”
  • A third group of women was told to say, “I don’t” as in, “I don’t miss a workout.”

The results? Utilizing positive language to empower yourself is an effective habit booster.

  • 30% of the first control group achieved their health goal every day for 10 days.
  • 10% of the “I can’t” group achieved their health goal every day for 10 days.
  • 80% of the “I don’t” group achieved their health goal every day for 10 days.

Empower Yourself through Word Choice

By saying “I don’t” instead of “I can’t” increases chances of success eight-fold. The words “I can’t” come from a place of restriction while “I don’t” comes from a place of identity and empowerment. That’s why having no strategy at all is even 3X the effectiveness as compared restriction!

Let’s face it, no one wants restriction and deprivation. That’s why so many diets fail. Saying, “You can’t have that soda” makes you want to drink the soda. Instead, make a choice and decide that “I’m not the type of person who drinks soda.” This gives the power and control back to you – and not the soda.

Read more: How To Give Up Soda>>

My Personal Study: Could I Use Words to Drink Less Alcohol?

I recently employed these strategies by deciding to not drink more than one alcoholic beverage a night. It worked – and it was so simple!

I was incredibly aware of each time I ordered a drink and made sure it counts. I deliberated over drink menus and chose something that I could sip slowly for longer. No one noticed* and I felt better about my evenings while still enjoying myself. I stayed within the health parameters I set.

* The only time my family noticed was when I ordered something non-alcoholic like tea. Brutal, I know! All in good jest, of course, and I didn’t let it change my mind but it’s a warning that people do pick up on it if it’s outside your expected norm.

Psychology in Action

In addition, study upon study shows the power of empowering yourself. In the medical world, there’s a term called “engaged patients” for patients who take ownership and control of their health. These engaged patients consistently show better outcomes that seem only indirectly related to their mindset: they’re 20% less likely to experience a medical error and 13% less likely to be readmitted to a hospital after discharge. That’s incredible considering all we’re talking about is a mindset shift towards empowerment. The problem is only 9% of patients are ranked as engaged patients. The next question is how we can increase those numbers. Awareness can help.

What Can You Do?

How can you better empower yourself to eat healthier, work out more, and spend higher quality time with your family? Make a decision today about who you are. Are you “the person who eats one salad every day?” Or “the person who says ‘no’ to desserts in the office kitchen?” Or “the person who carries her own water bottle everywhere?” Say “I don’t” and not “I can’t.” You’ve got nothing to lose and, at the minimum, it helps you pause long enough to make a healthy decision.

In addition, you need to analyze your motivation for living a healthy lifestyle. 

Read more: 4 steps to Finding Your Why>>

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