Thank you Carter and King and 93.5 FM The Move for the opportunity to share some of my expertise on what it takes to succeed at making lasting lifestyle changes. Our discussion prompted me to dig out this “throw back” I developed for a public health talk I did in Hamilton just over 10 years ago.
As I mentioned on the show, change happens in stages. We know this, as a result of ground breaking research led by two psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo Diclemete who studied how people make positive changes to improve their health. Their studies of about 150, 000 people over the span of 35 years revealed that no matter what kind of change people are trying to make, be it starting an exercise program, improving their diet, quitting smoking, or use of other substances, they all go through the same five stages.
Research based on this Stages of Change Model, not only gave us insight into what happens during each of the stages, but also what it takes to move through the stages and ultimately achieve our goals.
I have summarized this information in the chart below. The left column outlines each of the Stages of Change, and the column to the right outlines the appropriate action to take within each stage to help you move forward in the process.
I say process, because that is what change is. Change is a process – it is not a singular event; it does not happen instantly. In order to succeed at making healthy lifestyle changes, it is important to commit to the process.
I also want to emphasize that it is entirely normal to move back and forth within these stages. Change does not happen in a constant forward direction. It is normal to get started with something, and then fall backwards to a previous stage and then move forwards a bit further and fall back a bit again. This is important to recognize and accept.
If you can accept that it is normal to lapse from your plan, then maybe you can skip the tendency to beat yourself up (yes, Blake I am talking to you ) and simply refocus on figuring out why the slip happened, what you could do to prevent it from happening again and get back on track with resuming the healthy behaviour.
The key here is being able to look at your situation both realistically and compassionately.
For anyone reading this, I applaud you for continuing to strive to Design Your Life. Don`t ever give up. You owe it to yourself and everyone else around you to become your best self and live your best life.
And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.
Let`s keep the conversation going.