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Health and wellbeing: Increasingly important factors for both learners and staff #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Arnie Skelton, Managing Director, Effective Training & Development Ltd


As a college, do you want to offer healthy lifestyle options to your learners and staff?

Health and wellbeing are increasingly important factors affecting retention and achievement – for both learners and staff.

Yet colleges may struggle to find the time and strategies that can help.

This article offers one way forward, based on the three key components necessary for a healthy lifestyle:

1. Motivation: Finding the drive and desire to commit to positive action; and/or conversely, finding solutions to personal demotivators.

2. Strategy: The route each person needs to take to get from where they are to where they want to be, and – just as important – stay there. The challenge isn’t just losing weight and getting healthy but sustaining this outcome over the long term.

3. Implementation: The tools and personal skills to make it happen. This includes identifying and removing all the blockages to success, replacing unhelpful habits with more positive ones and developing the toolkit to stick with it until these changes become your ‘new normal’.

3 Steps Towards A Personal Breakthrough Experience

In December 2018 I was 67 years old, significantly overweight, and generally unfit. I went to India on a coaching assignment, and met Anna, a nutritionist and health coach. Within 3 months I had lost 22 kilos, reduced my waist size by 13 inches, and felt fitter and healthier than any time since my teens.

Anna is a nutrition and fitness expert; my speciality is behaviour management.

Together we have worked out a programme that is simple to apply, and effectively addresses the three key components necessary for a healthy lifestyle, and what your college could do, at both the strategic and local level, to bring them about.

1. Motivation

We have discovered that it’s less about what you want to achieve, than why. To take my personal example: initially I set myself some ‘what’ goals: to lose 2 stone in weight; to get my waist down to a 32” trouser size; and to do 10k steps every day (all of which I have achieved).

But the expectation of achieving a lower number on the scales rarely helps people stay the course… the real question is ‘why’?

Why do your health goals matter to you? What will be different in your life when you achieve them? This is where the real motivation kicks in.

For me, it was about being able to spend more active time with my grandchildren; to continue to be able to go to the park with them, and play with them, rather than sit wrapped in a blanket sitting on the bench, watching them.

For you it might be staying active enough to walk in the hills that you love; or continuing to eat out but healthily. These real, tangible, emotional changes are the true motivators that keep you at it when the going gets tough.

So, in talking with anyone who wants to lose weight or get fitter, make sure the reason for it is less ‘what’ they want to achieve, and instead ‘why’ they want to achieve…

2. Strategy

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “a poor workman blames his tools”, well when it comes to looking after your health, the tools might just be to blame.

Take food for example; we all know that we should eat a heathy diet, but what does that even mean? Does ‘healthy’ mean the same foods for you as it does for me?… And it’s not just about what we eat; when we eat can be just as important, and just as individual.

The same is true of exercise; all bodies are unique, and the type of movement a person’s body (and mind) need for optimum health is just as unique. When it comes to health, there are one or two ‘one size fits all’ rules that are hard to argue with, like “avoid processed food” and “move your body”, but for a lot of people, the key to success is working out what a ‘healthy’ lifestyle means for their own wonderfully unique body, personality and life.

In my case, I thought I was putting on weight because I was eating too much food. In fact, that wasn’t the problem: I was eating the wrong type of food for my particular physiological make up.

So, if any of your students seem to be fighting an uphill battle trying to get healthy, perhaps you should ask whether they have the right strategy – one that’s personalised to and for them.

3. Implementation

OK, so you’re motivated by your ‘why’ and you have found the right strategy for you, but there is one last essential piece to the puzzle – even the best plan can’t be executed without the tools, personal skills and discipline to make it happen. As with motivation – it’s personal. Everyone has different blockages, at different times, and in different settings.

The key is to work out what they are, when, and where, for each individual, then work out an approach that allows that person to get past that blockage in a way that works for them. By teaching your students the personal skills to get straight back on the horse & prevent themselves falling off next time, you will equip them for attaining not just excellent health, but also anything else that they set their mind to.

Definitely, one size does not fit all, that’s why I’m writing a book to identify all the major obstacles and blockages to personal achievement, and how to get past them. For example, someone may be disciplined enough to stick to a commitment, once they’ve made it; for others, it’s about personal pride in achievement.

Others might reorganise part of their daily routine to include small changes and habits that are relatively easy but over time, make a huge difference. So, in working with anyone struggling to stay ‘on task’, work out their key blocks, and how they will best be able to get past them.

Arnie Skelton, Managing Director, Effective Training & Development Ltd

Clearly there is more to this than I can cover here. Anna and I are touring FE Colleges in October, during half term, running half-day workshops on this topic, so it maybe we will be visiting your college, or one nearby. To find out, email me or ask your HR/L&D team for details.

Arnie Skelton Newsroom Strap

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