There are many reasons to lose weight, and making the commitment can ultimately improve overall health and increase quality of life.
But are your behaviors and motivations holding you back?
We know that positive behaviors toward food and exercise can improve our health, but for many reasons we don’t practice them consistently. Researchers in both physical and psychological sciences know that a team approach is critical to address the social, environmental, biological, hormonal and psychological factors that influence our weight.
Asking yourself two questions about your motivation can help uncover why behavior changes are difficult:
- On a 0-10 scale, how important is this behavior change to me?
- On a 0-10 scale, how confident am I that I can make this change?
Perhaps you realize the change is not important at this time because other issues in life are taking priority. That’s OK. Revisit the change when the chaos settles or work on self-talk — that thoughtful conversation that you have with yourself — to increase the level of importance. Without significance, behavior change becomes elusive.
The second question addresses your confidence level. It is possible your “failure” to change comes from self-defeating thoughts or behaviors. Increasing your confidence level will help translate into successful behavior change.
A model for behavior change suggests that where we are in the “change process” is a strong indicator for our readiness to change.
Stages of Behavior Change
- Precontemplative: the need for change is out of our awareness
- Contemplative: considering that change may be needed
- Preparation: beginning to think about a plan for change
- Action: putting the plan in place for changing behavior
- Relapse: falling back on old, unhealthy behaviors
Prochaska, Diclemente. “Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change.” 1983
We may move back and forth between these phases until we reach our goal. Relapse is not the end. It is a signal to check our mindfulness, answer the two motivation questions and rethink our plan.
Srividya Kidambi, MD, a Froedtert & MCW endocrinologist, said key components of weight-loss behaviors include:
Setting reasonable goals and holding yourself accountable Planning ahead for meals, exercise and activities that enhance relaxation Being mindful of triggers for stress, emotional eating and sleep disruption
Change is a process. It is a marathon, not a sprint. The goal is a general sense of well-being most of the time. Taking care of yourself can give you joy and a sense of accomplishment.
Mindfulness helps us live in the moment and be more aware of thoughts and emotions, rather than wandering inattentively through life. Once we set specific, realistic and meaningful goals, mindfulness helps us keep them in check. These goals become our proactive approach to living healthy, preventing illness and managing chronic conditions.