Monday, April 30, 2012

A Time for Change: Stage 4 – ACTION!

You have made it!  You are now putting your plan in motion and you are probably already completing new activities and changing your behaviors.  In the previous stage you made the necessary changes to fit your new behaviors into your schedule.  The change that you are now engaged in may take some effort since it may take more time than you previously thought.  For example, you may have joined a fitness class and you are now realizing that you have to stretch or fix your posture throughout the day, while away from the class.  This is the time that you need to adapt and make room for these small differences in your original plan to change. 

This stage usually lasts about 6 months and is the time where the change is still new to you.  This can be beneficial because people may notice the change right off the bat.  Say you are beginning a new diet; people may compliment you on how you are looking.  If your change was to get a more healthy dose of sleep (i.e. 7-8 hours) people may find that you are more alert and in a better mood.  There are some draw backs.  You will be more distractible at this stage and may slip back into your old habits.  Do not panic if this happens, as it most likely will.  The most important part is that you get back on track as soon as possible. 

Here are the steps you need to take in order to move on to the last stage; Maintenance.

Make Goals! – If you have goals for your action then you can work each and every day to get closer to them.  Do not make hard to obtain goals at first.  If you have never worked out in your life do not have a marathon be your first goal, start with running a mile. As you reach each relatively easy goal you can set a new one for the future. 

Give yourself Credit – It has been shown that those that are rewarded tend to thrive with change. It is like giving a weekly/monthly allowance to a teenager for doing chores; they are more likely to complete their chores since there is a reward.  Give yourself a small “cheat day” if you have exercised or dieted as you had planned for 2 or more weeks.  Be sure to give yourself some self-praise, you deserve it. 

In our next and final installment you will have the keys to actually maintain the change in your life.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Time for Change: Stage 3 – Preparation

At this point on our journey to change you are most likely committed to making an alteration in your lifestyle.  You have thought about the changes that need to take place and you may already be taking the correct steps to decrease your pain, move better, and live healthier.  Preparation, the next step for complete change is a very important one.  You have the best chance of success if you take your time in this stage and develop a comprehensive plan.  People in this stage often have big motivators for change; your pain has either gotten out of control or you have consistently become more unhealthy to the point that you notice seemingly easy daily tasks have become more difficult. 

Here are the steps you need to take in order to move on to the second-to-last stage; Action.

Set a Date! – Grab your calendar and pick a date to start your change.  When you look at your calendar make it look like any other important engagement you may have; something that you cannot miss.  Prepare for this day so when it comes you are ready to take action.  If you plan on starting a fitness class, make sure you have all the contact information of that fitness class.  If you plan on changing your diet, make sure to have the correct foods in your home to start the change.

Advertise Your Plan – It is now time to tell your friends, co-workers, and family what change you intend to make.  This will not only hold you to your change but will also provide you with support if you need it.  When you successfully make changes you will have a team to cheer you on.  If you begin to slip your team will be the healthy support you need to get going again.

In our next installment you will have the keys to actually make the change and then we will give you tips and tricks on how to maintain the change in your life.