Healthy Lifestyle change is often a critical step in achieving weight loss goals, says Bonnie Roill, Scottsdale AZ. Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, adult weight loss specialist at the Scottsdale Southwest Medical Centers and owner of B3 Nutrition Slim Down and Aspire 2 Wellness. However, just the thought of change is enough to overwhelm the most determined individuals. For some, their desire or “need to change” is in conflict with their motivation, ability or “need not to change“ and they just don’t know where to begin making some positive changes in your life?²´³
Roill references Prochaska and DiClemente's Stages of Change Model to explain how we progress through various stages of change to achieve our weight loss goals or any healthy lifestyle change. This includes sustainable healthy lifestyle goals in order to lose weight. If you can identify your stage of change, you will be more successful in reaching and maintaining your weight loss goals, adds Roill.
Start with a weight loss vision.
When speaking of goals many individuals confuse desired goals with desired outcomes. There is however a distinct difference between goals and the desired outcomes. An outcome is what you expect to achieve by reaching one or more goals. Often referred to as a long term goal, the desired outcome comes first. The outcome is a vision of the better you. It is your declaration of what you want to be (see video to left). It may sound something like; I will lose 30 pounds in 6 months, will be eating healthier foods and less salt, so I can lose weight, lower my blood pressured and not have to take my blood pressure medicine, and I will be exercising on a regular basis so I have the energy to hike on the weekend with my spouse. It may be all of the above with the addition of being happier thrown in for good measure. Once you have a vision, write it down ... it is then time to start creating goals specific to each part of your vision.
Creating you weight loss action goals.
Goals, in the context of lifestyle changes, are the smaller action steps taken to reach each component of your vision. It usually takes several progressive goals to reach the vision. A goal should be S.M.A.R.T; Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic and Time specific. If your vision is to lose 50 pounds, or be more active, one of the S.M.A.R.T. goals might sound something like; "Starting next Monday, I will be working out 3 times per week at the gym, after work and before going home on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for 30 minute of cardiovascular and 15 minutes strength building, each time, so I can start being more active and start managing my weight." Starting the goal with "I will" rather than "I need to", or "I would like to", or "I should", is critical to a mind set of success.
Have you been wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change or any change? Well what’s stopping you? Or have you made a change but are finding it difficult it sustain it. Well, what are the barriers getting in your way? Ok,before your start listing all of your specific reasons, or excuses, let’s first find out where you are in the stages of change.
Stages of change: (see links below if you are think you are in one of these stages and want move forward.
- Pre-contemplation: You have decided that you do not want to change or think that you are unable to do what it takes to change. You may even justify staying the way you are. It might be nice to lose those extra 10 pounds, but it is pointless to expect a change because you are not considering it ... you are simply not ready. Merely talking about change can be frustrating or annoying.
- Contemplation: You are ambivalent (maybe you will and maybe you won't). You are thinking about making a change, but not actually planning to do anything about it in the foreseeable future.
- Preparation: You know, it’s time to make this change, it has been on your mind for some time now, but you’re not quite engaged in taking the action on the goal. You are preparing you strategy, making plans, making small cognitive goals like researching options or articles on the internet, purchasing equipment or supplies like new sneakers for exercising, or purchasing fresh produce for clean cooking recipes. You may also be seeking help from friends, family or a professionals like a personal trainer, registered dietitian or health and wellness coach. You may have even joined a gym (a goal in itself).
- Action: Confidence in your ability to make the change is high, you ready and willing to move forward, taking the action necessary to actively make the desired change, even if not consistently. You may even begin seeing the desired outcome of the changes.
- Maintenance: You are now continuing with the change you made, consistently. The change may be working as planned or could be ready for additional modification ... revised goal.
- Relapse Prevention: A normal part of any change is to relapse back into old habits. Simply put, you end up back in one of the previous stages. Many people relapse to a previous behavior at one time or another. A relapse is not a collapse and you can just as easily move forward again. It’s just part of the normal process of change ... you just need to learn how to prevent it.
Change is a complicated process and one that does not come easy for the majority of individuals. It is also a well defined process - that once understood - can open the pathway, get you back in the flow, and take you from where your are currently to where you want to be. Click one of the links below to determine what stage you are in and what to do to move through the stages.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice. Information presented is subject to change as additional discoveries are made or additional research is published.
For additional information: Creating SMART Goals, "The pre-contemplative stage", "The contemplative stage", "The preparation stage", "The action stage", "The maintenance stage", "Relapse prevention" Wellness coach and Adult Weight Loss Specialist.
References: 1- Moore, M. and Tschannen-Moran,B. (2010). Coaching Psychology Manual, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Publishing. 2- Prochaska JO, DiClemente CC, Norcross JC. (1992). In search of how people change. Am Psychology 2; 47:1102-4. 3- Zimmerman,G., Olson,C., Bosworth, M. (2000). “ A 'Stages of Change' Approach to Helping Patients Change Behavior”, Wright State University School of Medicine, Dayton, Ohio [On-line] Retrieved May 31, 2009 from World Wide Web: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000301/1409.html