Stages of Change
When you set a New Year’s resolution or a goal for yourself that’s related to fitness and health, what is it that gets you started? Are your influences internal or external? How do you decide on what the next steps are? Where do you go for help?
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, don’t feel scared but rather excited! A goal is an amazing process, and with my help and guidance I will motivate you every step of the way if you read me!!
Stages & Processes of Change
Stage # 1 – The Experiential Process of Change
This stage is where you increase your awareness about yourself, and your health. Some helpful tips are to find a good book or magazine on how to start being more physically active. Consult a dietitian or personal trainer on good health guidelines. Find more information on your family history, and look into the different diseases that you are possibly more at risk for. This stage is also to get an understanding of your behaviours and your environment. How will you react to stressful situations? What would make you a better role model for your children? Basically, this stage is to get to know you, inside and out. It’s to learn about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, and to find a happy medium for yourself. Recognizing alternatives and opportunities for changes and solutions to problem behaviours, you are getting to know your new self and learning new exciting things about the benefits of health. By doing this you are assessing your personal impact of behaviours, attitudes and feelings and weighing the pros and cons of a healthy lifestyle.
Stage # 2 – The Behavioural Process of Change
Once you have weighed your pros and cons in the last stage, you will be looking for ideas to put your goals into action. Firstly, you will want to increase your commitment. What can you do to get motivated? What will help you stick with your routine at the gym? Who’s in control of your life? By asking yourself questions, stating what your plan of action is, or confiding in a friend with the same goals, you’re more likely to stay committed. Along the way you will feel excited to be doing the right things and staying on track, but what if you get tired? What if your routines feel like a chore? Well, the answer is easy, SUBSTITUTE!! Rather than viewing exercise as a task or a chore, try to think of it as a time for peace of mind, an esc ape from the world. Try new exercise classes, new music on your Ipod and new recipes to keep daily routines exciting and fun! How about interval training? During the commercials on TV try running on the spot, or lifting soup cans for bicep curls, squat against the wall, or even as simple as doing a couple stretches.
Once you recognize how easy it is to substitute positive/new behaviours for the old ones, it becomes easier to recognize the barriers. A barrier could be anything standing in your way of your goal, like the donuts sitting by the coffee machine at the office, or a group of friends who drink or smoke too much and are constantly making unhealthy choices. By recognizing your barriers, you now have the substituting tools to stay in control, and away from those situations that are always tempting you to fall off track. Trust me, relapse happens, I’ve done it thousands of times, it’s not the end of the world. Just take a step back, breathe, and let it go. The hardest part for me has always been letting things go. Sour cream glazed donuts are now my enemy because I couldn’t resist them, and after eating them I would be upset for days, and trust me, that didn’t help me make healthy choices, it just led me back to the Tim Horton’s line. So now, in control, I substitute Greek yogurt for that donut with a tonne of berries and some granola. No guilt, no relapses, and best of all when I make healthy changes it’s rewarding.
Stage # 3 – The Rewarding Process of Change
Speaking of rewarding, when’s the last time you’ve rewarded yourself for making a new change? If you’re reading this, you deserve a reward. A step in the right direction and a healthy behaviour change is something to be rewarded for. Plus, when you reward yourself it feels great, and especially if it’s a non-food treat you’re more likely to stay committed and keep your eyes on your healthy prize. How about buying yourself a new flattering workout outfit, or for every 5 lbs you lose treat yourself to a spa. The trick is to try to reward yourself with non-food items. Whenever I bought myself a cute new Nike top, I’d get to the gym more to show it off. Whenever I indulged in an old unhealthy food habbit, I found myself struggling to get back into a healthy routine. I use to call it a “Cheat Day” when I made a new change or when I lost more weight, but than that single cheat day turned into a cheat weekend, to a whole cheat week… And the real question is, was it worth it?
Here’s a saying I use quite often, “nothing tastes as good as feeling in control.” So stay positive this week, and continue to make the healthy choices your body deserves. Enjoy your day, and stay tuned for next Monday’s blog!
P.s. A devilish treat, but so light they call it Angel Food Cake coming up Wednesday, so give it a try!