Spring has sprung (well maybe not yet but wishful thinking). When I think about Spring I think about change. As a Dietitian, I learned about the 6 stages of change when working with a patient. In practical use we must factor in someones wants and expectations as well. Becca wants to lose 20 lbs. in 7 days and excepts it to happen. Phil wants and expects his cholesterol to drop to normal range within a month. These wants and expectations are just simply unattainable, unrealistic and unhealthy. We live in a time where we expect things to happen right now. We send an email -we expect a reply in an instant, we expect a 6 pack after starting a new exercise routine and even our food is served fast. I see it with my own kids, they cant wait for a second for something to happen, or even for dinner to be served faster (I am NOT a waitress here!)

It takes on average of 21 days to break an old habit, but to really take hold it can take up to 90 days to form a new habit. From my experience I have seen many give it the good old college try for about 14 days and are not even consistent within that time period.

So why are so many people in such a rush to see results. IT TAKES TIME! I think that is the problem, we just dont have enough time on our hands. We are on information overload and things happen so quickly. If we stop for even a second, we miss something and most of us dont have the luxury to skip a beat.

When working with a patient we must set realistic expectations (most patients dont like this part). We talk about slow and steady wins the race, or a pace that works best for that individual (within reason). Rapid changes dont usually sustain themselves and die off pretty quickly.

When starting a new lifestyle change, a new medication or even supplement do you expect to see and feel a change immediately? Most would say YES, but the truth is you wont, it all takes time to kick in. Sometimes the change is so gradual you dont feel it and when removing the medication or supplement you feel your old ways again and thats when you realize change has happened. You cant see change that is going on biologically (if we did that would be amazing). Diet modifications, healthy lifestyle changes, biohacking all take hold, but they are sneaky and dont show up with a white flag waving saying, its working, its working.

Trust me when you start a healthy lifestyle change positive things ARE happening.

Goal Setting and Stages of Change

Making a lasting change in behavior is never an easy or simple process and usually involves a substantial commitment of time, effort, and emotion.

A wise friend once told me once to create targets instead of setting goals. Goals feel so broad, targets are exact, precise, and you know what is expected. Setting goals and targets can be beneficial with your mindset, because once you reach them you feel accomplished. Be sure to make them attainable and set short-term and long-term targets.

There are 3 elements of change we need to understand when changing a behavior.

  1. Readiness to change do you have all the information to make a change?
  2. Barriers to change determine what is stopping you from making change.
  3. Expect relapse determine what might cause you to return to your hold habits.

When working on reaching a target we enter the process called Stages of Change.Pre-contemplation, contemplation, Determination, Action, Relapse and Maintenance.

Pre-contemplation – Not yet acknowledging that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed)

Contemplation – Acknowledging that there is a problem but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change

Determination – Getting ready to change

Action – Changing behavior

Relapse – Returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes

Maintenance – Maintaining the behavior change

One can enter and exist at any point in this cycle, move back, move forward its a mind-set we must make to initiate change. Most dont realize or know what stage they are in at any given point. We are typically driven my emotion and external sources that guide us in making decisions. Once we pinpoint these emotions and sources we can start to move forward in the stages, this is where we start to see progress.

Expectations

As discussed, wants and expectations are usually unrealistic and unhealthy. When working with a patient who has many health issues, autoimmunity, overweight, unhealthy lipid panel their focus is typically weight related. Honestly thats the last thing to focus on.

Revamping their way of thinking, shifting their focus on how they view eating and creating a healthier environment should be emphasized and the rest will come.

When activating the body we allow the body to do what it is intended to which is, heal itself. This too takes time. It takes on average one month per decade of life for change to occur. Some feel immediate changes, but many are not as in-tune with their bodies and dont feel the change occurring. But like with any lifestyle change it occurs over a period of time, not overnight. One day you may wake up realizing wow I feel pretty good versus six months ago where you couldnt muster up the energy to get out of bed.

Change is not easy for anyone; it takes time, determination, hopefulness, positivity and the right skill set. Typically, this is not something that is innate, it is a learned process. When guided correctly, by someone you trust and can confide in, change can and will happen right before your eyes!

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