Getting ready to make lifestyle changes
You need to be motivated to make lifestyle changes. It's a key part of being ready to make changes. You may be getting ready to:
- Set goals for a healthier lifestyle
- Start a supervised weight-loss program
- Have weight-loss surgery
For most people, a change in behavior occurs over time. There are 5 stages of change:
Stage of Change
What You May Think, Do, or Feel
(before you are thinking about making a change)
(thinking about making a change)
(getting ready to change)
(making the change)
Maintenance and Relapse
(sustaining the change and possibly reverting back to old behaviors)
Tips for behavior change
All the stages of change are important. You can learn from each stage. You can go from "not thinking about it" to "thinking about the pros and cons". Then you go to "making small changes and figuring out how to deal with the hard parts" to "doing it" to "making it part of your life." Many people get off track and go through the stages of change several times before change really lasts.
Make the behavior change a part of your life for the long haul. Think about what you will do if you slip up. Know that it takes time to make and maintain a change in your lifestyle.
Try these tips:
- Focus on making one change at a time.
- Pick a behavior you are strongly motivated to change.
- Set a specific, realistic goal.
- Set a goal that you can start on now.
- You are likely to have more success if you can measure your goal and record your progress toward it (like drinking less soda, losing weight, or getting more sleep).
- Write and sign a contract for behavior change.
- Make a list of your reasons for making a change and post it where you'll see it often.
- Add new cues to your environment to trigger your new behavior. For example, prepare healthy snacks ahead of time.
- Break your behavior chains. Make a change! Start by breaking one behavior that interferes with your goal. For example, if you always eat in front of the TV, eat only in your kitchen.
- Talk to yourself in a positive manner. Tell yourself you can make the change.
- Reward yourself for your successes.
- Build up a network of people who will support you.
- Avoid people and situations that do not support your new behavior. They can get you off track and sabotage your good intentions.
- Try new activities rather than indulge bad habits with people who may not be able to help you change your behavior.
Prepare for relapse. If you can maintain a change for at least 6 months, your chances for lifetime success are greatly increased. Relapse is common -- the best thing you can do is renew your commitment to change and stay motivated.