We are officially one month in to the New Year! Now let me ask you, how are you going? Have you smashed your goal to run 5km? Cut down on your soft drink intake? Are you well on your way to losing that pesky seven kilos that has been troubling you for the past few years? Or have you started renovating your kitchen – something you’ve been meaning to do for many years.
If the answer is no, that’s okay. Give yourself a moment to identify the reasons why you haven’t started or achieved your goals yet. What could be holding you back? What could be preventing you from putting on your running shoes and stepping outside your door? There may be one single reason, or a plethora of reasons: relationships, economics, geographical location, weather, health status or fear. There are some things we cannot change, like our age, or family history, but there are also things we can change, such as negative relationships (albeit friends, colleagues, partners or family), lack of interest or fear of the unknown. And hey, if you decide to put on those shoes, tie up those laces and open the door after many years of being inactive, then YOU ARE AMAZING! It takes real guts; self-love, self-trust and self-respect to take that first leap.
I ask you to consider this: will wading your way through a giant list of to-do’s and resolutions make you a better person? Will that feeling of accomplishment make it all seem worthwhile? Is creating a resolution something you need to do for yourself, to better your SELF, your HEALTH, and your WELL-BEING? Or is it something you feel compelled to do, because lets face it, with each New Year it is the thing to do! If you are saying yes to this, don't force it, when you are ready to do it, it will come naturally and it will be something you ENJOY! Instead of trying to become the ultimate you, let’s accept that now, in this very moment, you are one amazing person WITHOUT all of these resolutions. Anything you achieve after this is just a BONUS to your spectacular self!
Stages of change, where are you, honestly?
Lets have a brief walk-through the stages of change. You may identify yourself currently in one of the following stages, you may have also identified a stage you were once at, to be back around at the start again. That is the purpose of this figure, to show you change is not a straight-line or a single-loop. We are all human and we will find times where we relapse and fall backwards somewhat, but the important thing is that we continue to remind ourselves why we are doing what we are doing, and that it is to benefit ourselves. The aim is to learn and grow from the experience to grow stronger.
Pre-contemplation: This is the first stage where the individual has not considered changing their habits. What they are doing at this present moment does not pose any risk or consequences.
Contemplation: In this stage, the individual is contemplating about changing their habit, but are unsure as to whether they should begin to change. They have realised their habit has both positive and negative consequences, which makes it difficult to take the next step.
Preparation: The individual now recognises that the ‘cons’ outweigh the ‘pros’ of the habit and that change is necessary. This is also a stage where the individual realises that a change needs to be made, however does not attempt to rectify their behaviour.
Action: This stage involves the individual making changes to alter their current habit. Relapse is of great risk at this period.
Maintenance: This stage sees the individual achieving their new habit, and avoiding stimuli that will encourage them to relapse.
This is perhaps the most important stage to identify. You may find yourself staying in particular stages longer than other stages. Remember, the model of change is not a single loop, and it is normal to fall back into old habits as this is something that has most likely been a habit for many years, so do not expect it to revert in a month. As long as you keep trying, and recognizing why it failed the first, second, third and fourth time, change will eventually come!
WOAH! Before you go putting on your shoes and sprinting out the door to tackle your resolutions head on, give me two more minutes of your time to explain why it is important to have goals that are SMART
S – Specific
This means making a goal that is easily identifiable and not blurred – a stranger should be able to read your goal and know EXACTLY what you intend to do. I.e. Eat two pieces of fruit in a single day for three days.
M – Measurable
This is a great way to observe your progress and adherence to your goals. This is something that can be counted and measured i.e. blood glucose levels, weight on a scale, number of fruit eaten in one day.
A – Attainable
This is something that you can confidently achieve – safely! i.e. losing 3 kilos in four weeks. Aiming to lose 3 kilos in one week is not safe
R – Realistic
For a goal to be realistic it must be both achievable and sustainable! Make sure your goal can be maintained amongst your work and relationship duties.
T - Time-bound
Penciling it into your diary means you are allocating time out of your busy schedule to honour that promise you made to yourself. This is your designated time to yourself, so make the most of it!
So how are you feeling? Confident? Excited? Nervous? Embrace these feelings! No matter how your resolutions go, take time out each day to remember what you HAVE already achieved! We are so quick to place attention on what we haven’t done, yet forget about all the small things we have achieved! There is nothing wrong with being your own cheer-squad!
A dietitian with an interest in mind, body, skill development and empowering people to help themselves. After living a lifetime in the first 40, it is now time take it easier and let things be and help others get their their 'life'.
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