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Powerful Choices Podcast: Keeping Your Goals

February 2009

Colleen: Hello and welcome to the American Cancer Society’s Powerful Choices Podcast series. I’m Colleen Doyle, the American Cancer Society’s director of nutrition and physical activity. Thanks so much for joining us today.

You know, with good choices like not using tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight through healthy eating and regular exercise, and getting recommended cancer screening tests, you have the power to improve your health and reduce your cancer risk.

In these Powerful Choices podcasts, we want to answer your questions and give you good, accurate information you know you can count on. Along the way, we’ll give you tips and tools to make everyday choices that can help you be well and stay well.

For a lot of us, the New Year is when we commit to making those healthy choices. Who hasn't made a resolution to eat better, get more exercise, or drop a few pounds?

But sometimes, we just seem to lose our motivation after a few weeks, and by February, we're back to our old habits.

Slide: A Little Motivation: Nearly 50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented with everyday lifestyle changes like not smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting regular cancer screening tests.

Colleen: So how do we stay motivated to meet the goals we set for ourselves? I recently had a chance to talk with Behavior Change Expert Dr. Mark Stibich, and he's got some really great ideas.
Colleen (on video): How do we encourage people to stay motivated, keep going, keep exercising, keep eating well, even they don't feel necessarily like doing that?

Mark Stibich (on video): The main thing is focusing on the benefits, so linking moving more to your mood. And looking at that link, looking at your benefits today, right now, rather than thinking three months from now I'll have a perfect beach body, or whatever that goal might be, which is important, but what are the benefits today? You know, you have more energy, and you can put that energy into playing with your kids, doing better at work, whatever you want to do.

Colleen: Those are some great suggestions for keeping yourself on track to meet your healthy goals.

Getting your spouse or child or a friend on board with your resolutions can also help keep you motivated and help you stick to your plan. Joing us today to talk more about this is Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society.

Len, what are some of the benefits of involving your family and friends in helping us meet our own goals?

Len: Colleen, people tend to develop and keep up bad habits together, so they need to work together to improve them. You can offer each other encouragement and support when temptation is strong.

Colleen: Now, the reality is, a lot of times it feels like our friends or family aren't especially supportive, and sometimes it can feel like they're actually really trying to work against us. You know, think about at your house if you're trying to lose weight and you're trying to eat healthier foods, but your family doesn't want to. Or maybe you want to spend some time at the gym and your spouse is getting really frustrated with the amount of time you're spending away. How can we deal with those kinds of circumstances?

Len: Those are common problems that a lot of us deal with, and there's no doubt that this can be a difficult situation to deal with. If you're on a diet, but your spouse brings cookies home, it's harder to stick with your goals.

One way to handle this is to anticipate problem situations and come up with a plan to deal with them before they happen.

So if you know your kids are going to really want pizza on Friday night, order one but plan on having only one small slice and make the focus of your meal a salad filled with colorful vegetables.

You can also ask your spouse to join you at the gym, as a great way to spend some healthy, active time together.

Finding your way around potential obstacles and staying motivated to work toward your goals can also make you a good role model for those around you. As they see the progress you make, that may be just the push they need to make their own healthy resolutions.

Colleen: Thanks, Len. Those are great tips for staying on track to reach your own goals – with an added plus of even influencing your family and friends to do set some of their own.

We hope the information, tips and tools we’ve shared today will help you make choices – powerful choices – that can help you and your family reduce your cancer risk. It's just one of the ways that the American Cancer Society is committed to saving lives from cancer. As a reminder, you can find more information at cancer.org or our call center 1-800.ACS.2345, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From all of us here at the American Cancer Society, thanks for joining us!