Stages of Change

Are you ready to make changes in your eating habits and lifestyle to last a lifetime? Have you ever wondered why some people are able to change more easily than others? Once you understand what stage of change you are in, you can work through the stages to finally achieve permanent change. Use this assessment tool to determine your readiness for diet changes and Linda’s counseling services.

In his book Changing for Good, James O. Prochaska, Ph.D. and colleagues studied how people intentionally change. They believe that people who successfully change follow a predictable course, and that less than 20% of the population is ready to actively change at any one time. Their theory of self-change “requires that you know what stage you are in for the problem you want to overcome.” They continue by saying “Too many people look for easy solutions in the wrong places. There are no magic pills, magic pins, or magic plans. People progress through the same stages of change whether they are overcoming problems with substance abuse, anxiety, depression, or weight control. The result is that the principles that address one particular problem can be transferred to many other problems.”

Pre-contemplation Stage – “Never”

“When we are mired in the pre-contemplation stage, it is denial that holds us there. If we are accused of doing something wrong, one of the ways we learn to avoid punishment is to deny responsibility.” “Another step we take is to admit but justify our behavior, creating good reasons for our bad actions.”

I’m not really that overweight. I’m just big boned like the rest of my family. Besides, I can’t afford to replace my whole wardrobe.

Contemplation Stage – “Someday”

When a person is “aware of his problems… is struggling to understand their causes and cures, and is seriously thinking about solving them.” “Many people have an almost mystical belief that someday, somehow, there will be a magic moment that will be absolutely perfect for change.”

My doctor said that I have type 2 diabetes. He told me that if I lose weight I could stay off medication, but I just can’t handle a diet right now. I didn’t think I was that overweight! Maybe I’ll try to take action (diet) in about six months.

Clients in this stage of change may benefit from gathering information on their condition from books or the internet. Read Linda’s “Monthly Tips” for nutritional guidance or schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.

Preparation – “Soon”

When you enter the preparation stage, you have “overcome the barriers (you) had to admitting (your) problem, and after evaluating options, have decided to take action.”

I have diabetes and I know it is not going away. I intend to take action right away. I will call a dietitian and make an appointment for next week. I’m feeling a little anxious, but I will keep telling myself that I will not give in to my diabetes.

Clients in this stage of change should benefit from the education provided by Linda’s personalized counseling. Schedule an initial consult. Focusing on small changes and general guidelines may be the best for you right now.

Action – “Now”

“Real effective action begins with commitment. Once the commitment to change is made, it is time to move; in the action stage the focus is on the processes of control, countering (substituting healthy responses for problem behaviors), and reward, with a continuing emphasis on the importance of helping relationships. “”Even if you have done all the necessary preparation, there are no guarantees that your action will be successful. Awareness of the pitfalls will greatly increase your chance of success.” This process usually lasts for months.

I have taken action to control my diabetes within the past six months. I will be assertive in overcoming problems and achieving a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and plenty of rest.

Clients in this stage of change are usually the most successful with making diet changes and applying Linda’s counseling suggestions. Schedule an initial consult. A more detailed meal plan and lifestyle goals may be just what you need.

Maintenance – “Forever”

“Two factors are fundamental to successful maintenance: sustained, long-term effort, and a revised lifestyle. This is tough work but nothing else will do.” “For all of us, former problems, especially addictive ones, will hold some attraction long after the habit is broken. To remain strong throughout maintenance requires that you acknowledge you are still vulnerable to the problem even while you’re building a life in which the old behavior has no value.”

My diet is successful because I have a new way of life. I combine healthier food choices with more exercise and improved eating behaviors. I renew my commitment to this every day.

Clients in this stage of change benefit from regularly scheduled follow-up sessions after the initial consult with Linda. Follow-ups allow Linda to monitor your progress, adjust your meal plan, and keep you on track with your goals.

Recycling – (learning from relapse)

“Although relapse is never desirable, our view is that change is often circular and difficult…. Relapsers most often take one step backward in order to take two steps forward.” “Fortunately, the vast majority of relapsers do not give up on themselves and their ability to change.”

I gave it my best efforts the first time. I will learn from my relapse experiences and continue on with my new lifestyle. I am not a failure, and I am not hopeless. I know the path to successful change is rarely a straight line and no one is perfect.

Clients in this stage of change may benefit from a new initial consult to re-assess nutritional status and to review and revise diet, exercise and lifestyle goals. Follow-ups to allow Linda to monitor your progress, adjust your meal plan, and keep you on track with your goals are recommended.

* Quotations are taken from the book Changing for Good, James O. Prochaska, Ph.D. and colleagues.

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