Changing Your Behavior
Those dedicated to their health hate January. It is when they have to wait for treadmills and weight equipment because the gyms are packed with people trying to start off the New Year by losing weight. These New Year resolutionist’s do not know proper gym etiquette and look like lost children trying to figure out the equipment. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that they will be gone in a few weeks. Guaranteed.
Yes, most efforts to lose weight will fail. People not only want easy weight loss, they want it yesterday. So this time of year, people selling quick and effortless diets, potions, and exercise programs are feasting on all the overweight folks who are desperate for the “easy way”. They are easy pickings, just like a herd of confused little lambs, scurrying past the wolf pack.
And this is why most weight loss efforts will fail; because people do not realize or accept the colossal effort and dedication that is required to succeed. It is difficult. The hard part is not eating healthy, walking on the treadmill, or lifting a dumbbell. The hard part is making yourself do it.
I once had an obese young lady with growing health concerns, named Jessica, asking a very poignant question. The question was not directed to me, instead, she was asking herself. “The question is not how to lose weight, because I know what to do, the question is why is it a struggle for me to do it?” Jessica hit the bull’s eye with this question. She was looking into her psyche and questioning her own behavior.
If healthy living makes you look and feel younger and stronger, with more energy, confidence and self-esteem, then why is it so hard to stick to the program?
The answer is that behavior change needs a consistent and diligent effort. Many professionals have studied behavior change over the last two decades and they came up with the “Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change”, which revealed that behavior change requires a person to go through many different stages:
1. Precontemplation. In this stage you do not believe you have a problem and often have constructed defenses that aid in the denial of the problem. Defenses are excuses, and they can pour out of people’s mouths like diarrhea. I use this analogy, because the defenses are usually crap.
2. Contemplation. In this stage you acknowledge a problem and purposely increase your awareness and knowledge to the problem.
3. Preparation. In this stage you develop a commitment to change, and construct a plan of attack. You begin to focus on the benefits of change vs. the obstacles that stand in your way.
4. Action. You do something! And others see your progress toward change. After 6 months in this stage, you move into the final stage.
5. Maintenance. Change is maintained much easier now, but effort is still needed to avoid backsliding. When the changes becomes so automatic that there is no possibility of reverting back to your old ways, “Termination”, which is the goal, is reached.
Key to successfully changing your behavior includes having a realistic view of the work entailed to make it happen, being aware of the emotions or other situations that may “trigger” the unwanted behavior, and also knowing the difference between a lapse and a relapse. A lapse is a temporary slip, like a speed bump that slows you down, while a relapse is a complete setback.
I have seen many people come and go through the doors of my personal training center, and like a good mechanic can often tell you what is wrong with an engine by how it sounds, I can do the same with a person who comes to me to lose weight. Many people start out in the precontemplation phase, with the diarrhea of excuses still pouring from their mouth, and it is only after they accept their problem and commit to change, do they succeed.
The battle is not against the dinner table or the treadmill; it is against yourself and your bad habits. You know what to do, and what to eat, but it is hard to make yourself do it. Your chances of success are notably increased when you hold yourself accountable. You need someone to answer to, someone to “make” you do it. The good news is that after doing something for a period of time, it becomes a habit, and your need for accountability will disappear.
If you want this attempt to lose weight to succeed, look into your soul, and see where you are at in the “Model of Behavior Change”, and accept it will not be easy, and that you will need support. But most of all realize that you, and your higher quality of life, are worth it.