Behavior Change: How
So far we have talked about the first 3 stages of creating lasting changes in our behavior.
- Stage 1 Wanting it.
- Stage 2 Willingness
- Stage 3 Emotional Capacity or Resilience
This week, we’ll cover the 4th stage of How. This stage requires that we decide on what plan we wish to use, for example Weight Watchers or a trainer at the YMCA. This can be overwhelming in itself, because there are TOO many choices! How do we ever decide which one will work for us? Which plan is even a healthy choice?
I have spent too much money on diet/exercise books that I’ve never read and YMCA memberships that I’ve barely used. Most of us collect information and resources without ever succeeding at implementing them. Indecision has gripped me all too often and I become paralyzed. Has this happened to you?
If you’ve been following this blog in January, you know that I decided to try the Tiny Habit approach. It felt the least overwhelming and the most promising at actually changing behavior. No books to buy. No program to work. Just pick a ridiculously easy behavior, tie it to something I already do, and celebrate when I complete the task. So far I’m still walking for a couple minutes after using the bathroom and I’m still drinking water after walking. No strain. If I happen to forget and sit down at my computer, the word “Celebrate” looks at me from the top edge of my screen and reminds me to get back up and do it.
It sounds ridiculous, but so far it’s working for me! If you are trying to implement a tiny habit, I would love to hear what you’re doing and how it’s working for you.
Trouble Shooting and Course Correction
Once we’ve settled on a plan, we need the skill of trouble shooting when, not if, something goes amiss. We may need to think about what is happening or even journal about it, in order to figure out what needs to change so we can stick with our plan. For example, I’ve come to the conclusion that people have thrived on a whole foods diet with minimal processing and no artificial anything for centuries. So if I pick this plan of eating whole unprocessed foods, I will need to eliminate junk food from my home. If I don’t, I will choose the junk food every time over the nutritious stuff. I have no self-control. Eliminating junk food from my home would be my course correction.
I also know from past experiences that I need to plan meals and snacks ahead of time. If I wait until I’m starving, I will always pick the convenient over the nutritious. Unfortunately, being tired all the time creates issues for me. I’m willing to bet it’s the same for you. It’s so much harder, if not impossible, to carry out our plans when we’re exhausted.
Enlist the help of a friend or family member if you can. If a certain time of day is better for you, do your food prep then. Make extra food and freeze it in meal size packages. If your hands hurt, use whatever tools make the job less painful. If we can plan ahead a bit, we can get these tasks done at our best time of day or when our helpers are around.
Also, I don’t know why, but I hate planning food ahead of time. What if I don’t feel like eating that for dinner tonight? My stubbornness at changing my habits isn’t helping. Maybe something I can try to get around this resistance, is to think about the next meal when I’m preparing a meal. Can I chop something now while I wait for my eggs to cook?
I already create menu ideas for the week for my shopping list. If I would just put a dinner into a daily slot, I would know at a glance if something needed to come out of the freezer or be soaked overnight. I’m going to need another post-it note on my kitchen cabinet to remind me to think ahead to the next meal. Darn brain fog!
Finding Your Way to Behavior Change
The above three paragraphs illustrate how I go about the process of troubleshooting and correcting my course. I’m aiming for baby steps in the right direction for changing my behavior . How will you navigate the waters of changing your behavior to improve your health? I hope that my process and the information from the above article will empower you to tackle your unique challenges.
My last tip is for both of us. Go easy on yourself when you mess up. No name-calling. No bashing oneself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. If our bodies, minds, or emotions aren’t cooperating, it really is okay to just be and not stress over things we have no control over. We just need to start again where we are and not give up. Kathy