Wednesday, August 4

Thank God It’s Over…Oh Wait, It’s Not

When I posted my results from the In8 program last week, one part of my brain let out a huge sigh of relief. It’s over, I thought to myself. No more watching what I eat. No more running. No more weight training. But then the other side of my brain kicked in and reminded me that this is actually a lifelong program, not a one-time project. Oh right, I thought. Crap.

It’s not crap of course. All these healthy habits I’ve started are for the best and I’ve benefited from them in tangible terms: lost weight and inches, reduced headaches, and increased energy. Those achievements are a direct result of the program. But if I’m honest with you, it was a relief to feel like I was done. It did feel like some sort of pressure was off me, which is not a good thing. With no pressure the temptation to return to my previous way of life is pretty strong.

To combat my lax attitude, I researched how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Most of the advice I found was too simplistic. The experts were telling me to “eat more fruits and vegetables, get plenty of exercise, and drink lots of water.” Well, no kidding, I know that’s what I’m supposed to do, but HOW exactly do I stay motivated? How do I prevent myself from falling off the wagon? That’s what I want to know.

I found a better answer in the behavioral sciences area, specifically in the Stages of Change Model. Developed by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, the Stages of Change Model is a way of describing a person’s readiness to accept a new, healthier behavior. It provides insight into the process everyone goes through when making a significant change. There are six stages in the model.


You are actively resisting change.
“I will not put down the pie! I love pie! And besides, it has apples in it. So it’s healthy.”

You’re thinking about doing something.
“Hmm, I wonder if all this pie is making me fat?”

You’ve decided to take action and are making plans to do so.
“I think I’ll go to one of those In8 orientation sessions and see what it’s all about.”

You’re actively taking the steps necessary to change.
“Okay, I’ve thrown out all my Mrs. Smith’s pies and joined a gym. Let’s do this.”

You continue making healthy choices.
“Ooh, I’d really like some pie, but then I’d have to run for an hour. I think I’ll skip it.”

You have a new self-image and no temptation to return to your old unhealthy ways.

“You know, I don’t even like pie that much. It’s just not worth the extra calories.”

So what, you’re saying? You’re boring the pants off me Dianna, why should I care about this stuff?

Well, for a couple reasons.

First, it’s helpful to understand what stage you’re in so you can be aware of the pitfalls and keys to success for that stage. For example, in the maintenance stage, which I’m currently in, I’m supposed to continue my social support network, reinforce internal rewards, and figure out how to cope with a relapse. (1)
Second, the research also tells us how long each stage typically lasts. I don’t know about you, but I like a timeline. The maintenance stage can last from 6 months to 5 years.(1) Yikes! That’s how long it could take for this new behavior to really stick. Okay, that’s quite a timeframe, but at least now I know and I won’t get discouraged. Well, at least not totally bummed out next year when I still feel like I struggle with daily choices.

Finally, it’s also important to know that relapse is part of the process. In fact, more people relapse than not. And you’re probably going to relapse several times. That’s normal. The key is to figure out what caused the relapse, learn from it, and get back on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon.(2)


1 comment:

  1. I think I am in a permanent precontemplation state. Only it's burgers, not pies. And burgers have lettuce and tomato on them, which makes them healthy.