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Readiness for Change: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

February 6, 2015
Readiness for change

When it comes to losing weight this year, a key ingredient that can greatly increase your chances for success is often overlooked: Readiness to change. You may think that goes without saying, but if you are not mentally prepared to take on the challenges faced while navigating the sometimes treacherous weight-loss waters, you're likely to spring a leak thanks to those old behavioral patterns or end up anchored to your old ways. What follows are some questions to ask yourself as you seek to change some lifestyle patterns that may have held you back from accomplishing your goals last year.

There is scientific evidence to back up the idea of readying yourself for a major behavioral shift such as losing weight. In fact, researchers Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska introduced a five-stage model of change nearly 20 years ago to help professionals understand their clients with addiction problems and motivate them to change. Their model is based on personal observation.

The stages of the model are:

  • Precontemplation - You're not yet thinking about making a change.
  • Contemplation - You're willing to consider the possibility that you have a problem and need to make a change. You consider the pros and cons of changing the behavior or do a risk-reward analysis.
  • Determination - You decide to make a change.
  • Action - You put your plan into action, making adjustments along the way, as needed.
  • Maintenance - The real test of change is sustaining it over time using the same tools that helped you achieve your goal.

Are you ready for change? Ask yourself these five questions to be sure:

1) Am I ready to commit time and energy to losing weight? This may include committing to such things as grocery shopping for healthy food items, meal and menu planning and carving out extra time to exercise, etc.

2) What is my personal motivation? In order for optimal long-term weight management success, it is helpful to tap into your personal motivators for losing weight, whether it's wanted to climb stairs without becoming short of breath or wanted to look great for your daughter's wedding. This will lead you to make choices that you feel good about, maintain focus and stay on track to make change happen.

3) Do I have a support system in place? These individuals should be people you can call on to provide encouragement and hold you accountable to your goals. It could be a spouse, a partner, a work colleague, a friend or any combination of these individuals.

4) Are there any major distractions that will make it difficult for me to focus on my weight loss goals at this time? While there may never be an "ideal" time to lose weight, it is important to consider that if you're dealing with any major life events it might not be the right time to add the challenge of making major changes to your eating and exercise habits.

5) Do I have realistic goals about how much weight I will lose and how quickly I can expect it to come off? Early success is valuable; however, losing weight too quickly can be challenging in terms of long-term weight management success. In addition, sometimes we are unrealistic with how much weight we want to lose. Thus, It is helpful to seek out guidance from a professional when embarking on a weight loss plan.

If your answers all suggest that you're ready to change your current behaviors, a small celebration is in order, because tomorrow will be the first day of your new life.

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Jennifer Plotnek Lead Behavior Coach

Jennifer is a lifelong athlete who has spent the last 15 years helping other people minimize the impact of their life stressors through exercise, nutrition, and self-care. She has a degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado and a Master's degree from the Smith College School For Social Work. Jennifer has worked in hospitals, schools, mental health clinics, and private practice. She co-owns a health club in DC and always strives to set a good example for her three daughters.

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