Featured app: YOU-app

New Year’s resolutions too hard to keep every year?

Unfortunately, with the majority of us failing to keep them,1 that’s likely to be the case!

When we set large, ambiguous goals (such as eating healthier, losing weight, or doing more outside of work) it can be difficult to stay upbeat and motivate ourselves to make positive lifestyle changes. And for those with AS, where getting through constant pain and flares can be a mission in itself, such goals may seem even more overwhelming.

We think YOU-app could help. It’s a self-improvement endeavour from health and wellness experts (including Jamie Oliver – UK celebrity chef and the man who brought healthy food to British and American schools). The aim is to help you make positive lifestyle changes, in simple, bite-sized pieces.

Their theory is that behaviour change (and the path to your end goal) is best built through small, explicit actions that can be completed easily:2 micro-actions.

Small habits lead to big changes

YOU’s focus is positivity. Its themes – around which micro-actions are focused – are food, mindfulness, movement, and cherishing the things you love.

Each day, it refreshes with a new set of simple tasks – such as replacing a meal with a sugar-free one, making a regular journey more physical, or acting how you want to feel. When you’ve completed something, you take a photo (of your healthy food, for example) and upload it to their feel-good feed, Instagram-style. The idea behind this, says Dr Tara Swart, PhD Neuroscience and advisor to YOU, is that taking a picture makes the process much more deliberate, and helps you on your way to change.

Their tasks take little effort to complete, and are fulfilling achievements in themselves. But they also empower you to make (and continue to make) positive changes, and to build towards your long term goals. Now running a marathon doesn’t look quite so far away!

A large number of healthy meals lead to a better diet. Making regular journeys more active, and fitting in a jog or long walk when you can, lead to feeling fitter. Small, explicit actions add up and do make a difference – hopefully leading to a happier and more rewarded you.

Built to suit you - and your goals

YOU-app can be tailored to suit your needs. If the goals today aren’t your thing – or if you’re not feeling up to it – just leave them out, no guilt attached. Instead, complete the ones you like and pin your favourites to start regular habits.

YOU is also a community. Studies have shown that by surrounding yourself with positive people you are more likely to feel positive yourself.3 Not only that – by telling others about your goals, you’re also more likely to keep to them. Make it more personal by linking up with your friends – or even fellow AS patients.

Making positive changes is free for all

This AS Life is recommending YOU as it is a genuinely good-hearted app, helping to keep you aware, empowered, and stay positive with each achievement. While it encourages healthy habits, it is not intended to be a medical guide, so remember to consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.

Take on small and simple micro-actions every day for a healthier, happier you.

YOU is available on both iOS and Android, and is free to download and use.

This article was written by one of the resident experts at ThisASLife.com. A social site, helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss.

1. New Year’s resolution statistics. University of Scranton. Available at: http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/ Last accessed: September 2015
2. Fogg BJ. A behaviour model for persuasive design. 2009.
3. Fowler JH, Christakis NA. Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. BMJ 2008; 337:a2338


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