Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Time for Change: Stage 2 – Contemplation

After reading our last two blogs you are now ready to start giving some thought to changing your behavior.  In this next stage, contemplation, you start to think “maybe I should go to a physical therapist for my back pain” or “I should start working out so I can become healthier.”    Although you are beginning to have these feelings your plans remain distant and indefinite.  “When you talk about the possibility of change, there is always a ‘but’1  You have a good reason to make a change in your life but there is always an excuse to follow such as you don’t have enough time or it may cost you some extra money that you weren’t planning on spending.

In this stage you go back and forth from wanting to change and wanting things to stay the way they are.  Many people get stuck here for weeks, months, or even years.  These are the people that every January 1st, make the same New Year’s resolution but never even begin to make the change.  It’s on your mind but you can’t get out of the rut and just make the right decision.  It is best to stop thinking about all the obstacles to change and focus more on the problems that you truly want to change.

Give your Mind a Nudge – Every time you catch yourself making a ‘but’ statement, push yourself to examine it more closely.  In the example where you’re ‘too busy’ to exercise, you might ask yourself: ‘If I don’t have a 30-minute block of time for exercise, do I have three 10-minute ones?’ or “If I like to watch TV in the evening, could I do it while walking on a treadmill?’”1

Track Your Problems and Progress – Make a daily journal and keep track of every time you are in pain or every time you think about being unfit.  Did you try to put on a pair of pants and they don’t fit the way they used to? Write it down!  You will be able to look back at this journal and find patterns.  Maybe you notice that you are more bloated after eating certain foods - Change your diet!  Maybe you find that you have more pain after being inactive and sitting for long periods of time – Go see a physical therapist! Do you become aware of gained body weight or lost muscle mass – Begin an exercise program at Hayashida & Associates Physical Therapy.

Stay Tuned: In next week’s blog we actually start to make the changes that we have been talking about this past month.  We will then follow up on the hardest stage of them all, maintaining the change in your life over the long haul.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Time For Change: Stage 1 – Precontemplation

Changing our lives is not easy and as discussed in our last blog post there are five distinct stages that we must go through in order to achieve this change.  These changes can be as little as drinking one less cup of coffee each day or as big as entering a workout regimen in order to prepare for an Ironman.  Stage 1, precontemplation, is where almost 50% of the public is currently situated and getting past this stage can be very difficult.

This stage is marked by you not even thinking about change.  Your physical therapist, physician, spouse, family member, or friend may be urging you to make a change, whether it is working out more or eating better, for example.  During precontemplation you hold onto the belief that nothing needs to change and you think that things are fine the way they are.  You read a blog article or see a billboard explaining how much changing your health matters but you ignore it.  You sit there and say to yourself, “I am healthy; I am in good physical shape.”1  In your mind you are immune to any health problems that your peers or physical therapist is trying to explain to you.  If you have found yourself constantly dismissing the advice of others you may be stuck in this phase; here are some ways to move on to the next stage.

Weigh Your Options – In this stage “people tend to focus on the downside of adopting a healthy new behavior while ignoring the upside.”1  Get past this by making a pro and con list.  Take out a piece of paper.  No, I mean right now, take out a piece of paper and write five to ten pros of changing to a new healthy behavior. On the other side write five to ten cons for changing.  Look at the two columns. “Is there a stronger case for or against making a change?”1

Find a “Change Partner” – It is hard to take nutrition advice from someone who is extremely overweight.  Find someone who has made a change in their life that is somewhat similar to the change that you want to make.  If you have a physical therapist, friend, coworker or anyone else who wants to change or has changed their behaviors, start a conversation with them.

Just talking about your issue will catapult you into the next stage, Contemplation.  So start today.  Don’t worry about changing your unhealthy behavior now, just start to think about it and the consequences if you don’t change. Keep coming back as we will continue to talk about the next four steps, what they entail, what needs to be overcome and how to move to the next stage.