Surprised. Disappointed. Scared.
The emotions I felt when I learned about my lab results from a routine health check-up back in 2015. They were abnormally high and the ‘what-ifs’ started to play in my mind. What if my levels continue to go up and I end up with Type 2 diabetes? Asking myself this question made me realize my current lifestyle needed to CHANGE.
For CHANGE to happen, consider these three factors:
MOTIVATION, CAPABILITY, and OPPORTUNITY
Was I motivated? The risk for Type 2 diabetes was the catalyst to motivate me to take action.
Was I capable? Yes, with the belief I can use my strengths of discipline (could be why the Navy was a great first career choice for me) and resourcefulness to figure out what I needed to make the change.
Was the opportunity present to allow for change? It was an opportune time with my daughters becoming more independent, I started to prioritize self-care.
With these three factors in mind, let’s walk through the first two stages you might experience when you start thinking about the changes you’d like to see in your life.
STAGES OF HEALTHY BEHAVIOR CHANGE
A journey of change goes through five different stages. For those who are familiar with behavior change theory, this is what’s known as the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Behavior Change. Understanding the stage you’re in, can help you forge through to the final stages of ‘Action’ and ‘Maintenance’. For some, you may need guidance from a certified Health Coach who will help you recognize at what stage of change you’re in and whether or not, you may be moving towards the following stage.
To avoid overwhelming you with information, let me start with the first two stages that people may find themselves in most often.
The first stage is pre-contemplation. This is someone who has no interest in change. A person who is happy with the way things are.
If you hear yourself saying, “I won’t” – this may be because you haven’t realized there’s a problem. Using my situation as an example:
Before my blood test, I had a nightly habit of snacking. It was something I did after I put the girls to bed where I enjoyed the quiet time mindlessly eating while I watched TV. Sure, I noticed I was putting on a little extra belly fat. But I couldn’t pull myself away from it, always using the excuse “I’ll run it off tomorrow.”
Or you might find yourself saying, “I can’t” – you have a sense of awareness that you need to change but you find change to be difficult or impossible.
If you’re a pre-contemplator, what can you do to move to the next stage? One way is to raise your awareness and open your mind to the benefits of change.
- How will you know when it’s time to think about change?
- What signals will tell you to start thinking about change?
However, the ultimate choice is yours to make. You know what’s best for your health and you decide when you’re ready to change your behavior.
When you’re still on the fence whether or not to take action, you’ve reached the second stage of CONTEMPLATION. You know the benefits of change, but there are obstacles in the way so the current behavior remains. Ambivalence is the identifying trait at this stage. You feel stuck between two choices – to change or not to change?
A grande Mint Mocha Frap with Whipped cream or Tall Iced Coffee with milk? One ambivalence I had years ago when I was in the habit of stopping at Starbucks a few times a week. I admit I had a problem with too much sugar back then. Something I had to work on to change. (Happy that I’ve overcome my sweet coffee obsession).
Questions to help you move you out of contemplation:
- Why do you want to make this change?
- What could be the positive results of changing now?
- What are the major barriers for making a change?
Usually this is where many people get stuck when they contemplate change. You might find yourself going back and forth whether it’s worth the effort. Feelings of doubt and uncertainty start to creep in. This is when you must dig deep and identify a STRONG SPECIFIC WHY you need to change.
If you’ve read my past posts, you know that I’m a big proponent of creating a Wellness Vision. It’s the foundation of starting your health journey that gives you the clarity of why it matters. I encourage you to get this useful guide on this link: WELLNESS VISION GUIDE.
In my next post, I’ll tell you about the last three stages of change. In the meantime, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts by sharing your answers to the questions in the comments section below.
What health behavior are you in pre-contemplation or contemplation? What might help you forge through the next stages of change?