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My Blog

January 2015

Are You Really Ready to Change?

It’s a new year and with that comes new ideas of lifestyle change…Our bodies and minds are often ready for a transformation this time of year. But are you really ready to change? By acknowledging your stage of readiness, you may be more likely to keep that New Year’s resolution.  Knowledge is power right? 

There are 6 stages of readiness in the transtheoretical model used by health professionals.  Understanding the stages can help anyone struggling with a lifestyle change.  You can use this model to assist with anything from weight loss and exercise to substance abuse and addiction. Below are the stages.  I will use the example of weight loss since many of my clients are coming to me for guidance in this area. Which stage do you relate to today?

In this stage you probably do not think you have a problem or issue that needs to be changed. Or maybe you have tried to change at another time in your life and have simply given up. This is the “denial” stage.
You may be saying things like:
·       I am not overweight.  
·       I don’t have a problem over eating.
·       I don’t need to exercise.
What you can do to move to the next stage:
·       Validate your lack of readiness
·       Reevaluate your lifestyle choices
·       Consider the risks involved in your lifestyle choices

At this stage you are contemplating making a change, but getting out of your comfort zone may not seem worth it right now. This is the “ambivalent” stage.
You may be saying things like:
·       I know I am a few pounds over where I should be, but I’m okay with that. 
·       Sometimes I feel like I could make better food choices.
·       I know I should go to the gym, but I don’t really feel like it. 
What you can do to move to the next stage:
·       Validate your lack of readiness
·       Write a pros and cons list for making a change
·       Try to acknowledge the positive outcomes for making a change 

This is when real plans for change start to be made.  You may even attempt small changes.  It is a step in the right direction. This is the “something has to change” stage.
You may be saying things like:
·       I will try to lose weight.
·       I will start eating better… at least on the weekdays.
·       Maybe I will try to go for a walk after dinner.  It’s better than nothing!
What you can do to move to the next stage:
·       Start with small steps
·       Build a support system of friends, family, and/or a health professional
·       Build your confidence by identifying your talents

This is the stage that needs to be reached in order to make concrete changes. Plans are made and executed. This is the “change” stage.
You may be saying things like:
·       I WILL lose 10lbs in the next 3 months!
·       I WILL only eat wholesome foods and in the appropriate portions.
·       I WILL make it to the gym 4 to 5 times this week.
What you can do to move to the next stage:
·       Restructure your routines
·       Let yourself feel proud and self-efficient
·       Remind yourself of the positive outcomes of the change

In this stage you have reached your goals and continue to make choices in support of that goal.  Avoiding slips and relapse is part of the process.  This is the “don’t give up” phase.
You may be saying things like:
·       I will not go back to my unhealthy weight.
·       I will stay strong when tempted by unhealthy foods.
·       I will continue my exercise routine, even though I have reached my goal.
What you can do to stay in the maintenance stage:
·       Make use of your support system
·       Remind yourself of how wonderful you feel inside and out
·       Note that relapse can happen if you let it   

When in relapse you may find yourself resuming old behaviors. This can lead to feelings of discouragement and make it hard to re-establish healthy behavior. This is the “fell off the wagon” phase. 
You may be saying things like:
·       Now I will never be my ideal weight.
·       I tried to eat right, but I failed.
·       I can’t go back to the gym now that it has been so long.
What you can do to move passed a relapse:
·       Figure out what triggered your relapse
·       Build a strong plan for dealing with the triggers in the future
·       Evaluate your motivation

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