Why is Changing My Lifestyle So Hard?
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Hi, everyone. I’m Dr. Trish – physician, best-selling author, and The Health Catalyst Speaker. I want to spend a few moments with you today talking about the stages of change. You see, in all of the chronic disease out there we all know that changing a lifestyle such as improving your diet, exercise on a daily basis in some fashion or another, decreasing toxins such as alcohol, and getting good sleep such as not staying up half of the night and burning the candle at all ends…we know these things are important to our health! But yet, making the lifestyle changes and being able to be consistent with them seems to be difficult.
You know, greater than 23.5 million Americans are dealing with autoimmune conditions where your immune system attacks your own body. Millions of Americans are obviously dealing with heart disease. Millions of Americans are dealing with migraines and headaches and chronic pain. It goes on and on! So, why do we have trouble if we realize that our lifestyle is not benefitting us? Why are we unable to make the changes necessary to feel better?
Well, you know, the fact is that we’re human. There are stages to change. Our brain and our being and our soul have to get ready for change. It’s a journey that takes quite a while. Let’s review the different stages of change so you get a sense of this.
First of all, the first stage of change is called the precontemplation stage. You’ll see that’s right here number one. The precontemplation phase, folks, means that you actually are completely unaware that there’s a problem in the first place. You’re in denial. You don’t really have any interest in making a change. It’s sort of like, if you will, an addict or an alcoholic that basically denies in any way, shape, or form that there’s any fact that there’s a problem. We all do this! It doesn’t have to be related to addiction or any other specific condition, it’s just precontemplation stage. You don’t realize that there’s actually a problem.
The next stage of change is number two here which is the contemplation stage. You’re actually starting to be aware, starting to contemplate, and a lot of these terms and these names of the stages are pretty self-explanatory. You’re starting to contemplate the fact that things aren’t quite right and there are things you might be doing and your behaviors that are connected to why you’re not feeling well. But you’re really not going to be ready to change yet. You’re not ready to plan; you’re not ready to make any definitive change; you’re just starting to talk about it. You’re starting to say, “Maybe I should change this,” or, “maybe I should change that.” You’re not really ready to make any definitive change. We’ve all done this. If you think back on your life. You know, you said, “Well that’s interesting. Maybe I should try that.” Then a month or two or three or six or seven go by and it’s like, Oh, I haven’t really changed anything, but you’re continuing to learn about something. You’re continuing to contemplate it.
The next stage, stage three in the stages of change, is preparation. Now, you’re actually making a public statement that you’re going to change things. Maybe you tell your sister or your mother or your spouse, “You know, I’m going to make this change.” You’re actually starting to talk about when. You’re going to set a date, or you actually buy a new pair of sneakers to be able to join the gym and you actually call and make the membership, let’s say, in the gym to start your preparations for making the changes. So, it’s the preparation stage.
The fourth stage of change is you finally…this is step four, folks! Number four is to take action. You actually are going to make some change. Maybe it’s one small thing. Maybe it’s two, but the bottom line is you’re making a change to change your diet or you’re making a change to do some stretching exercises every day and you’re being consistent. You’re taking action. You’ve actually put your feet or foot in the water. You know, not just your toe, but you’ve put your foot all the way into the water, and you’re taking action. You’re moving forward on your journey and you’re not just contemplating it; you’re not preparing for it; you’re actually doing it and taking action. That would mean if it’s an exercise program you’re actually going to the gym X amount of times a week that you said was your plan, or you’re walking every day for half a mile, or you are eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet for the next three to four weeks. Whatever it is, you’re taking the action and you’re doing it.
Maintenance Stage (*Recycling)
Stage five is maintenance. In the action stage, let’s say you’ve put yourself through a comprehensive elimination diet. My comprehensive elimination diet through my program is called the Detox Plus Program. It’s a three-week elimination diet that you would eliminate the top ten triggers in the Standard American Diet for three weeks. Then you would systematically re-challenge those foods in order for you to identify your food sensitivities, let’s say. Let’s use this as the example. Let’s say in the action stage you implemented for the three weeks the comprehensive elimination diet. Then for another two or three weeks you systematically re-challenged the foods, and you’ve identified for yourself that gluten and dairy, let’s say, and caffeine are food sensitivities or food triggers for you with either your autoimmune condition or your hypertension or your migraines or whatever it might be.
On the maintenance stage, the maintenance step would be for you to realize that, to institutionalize it in your life, and to be consistent in keeping out those triggers (the caffeine, the gluten, and the dairy) for another month and another month and another month. Of course, with this example, you could be re-challenging once a month let’s say those foods just to see if your gut has healed and see if they’ve become no longer a trigger for you. Let’s say they continue to be a trigger and you realize you have to stay away from them.
You’re in, now, the maintenance stage which is stage five of the stage of change. You’ll notice maintenance isn’t just written here and left alone. Below it you see an asterisk that says “recycling.” Recycling means, folks, and you see the percentage of 95% of us fail in the maintenance stage at one time or another. We all fall off the wagon. It’s natural. It’s normal. For you to fall off the maintenance stage and maybe go to a party, let’s say, and eat some gluten and eat some dairy and then feel lousy the next few days – that’s normal. We all do it. The point is, do you pick yourself up and get back on the horse, get back on the wagon, and get back into the maintenance stage? Or do you fall off completely and then have to go back, let’s say, to the preparation or go back to the action stage and then back into the maintenance stage? Whatever backsteps you might take, don’t let it defeat you. [click_to_tweet tweet=”95% of us fail especially the first time through. Each time we pick ourselves up and get back on the journey, we do better and better each time.” quote=”95% of us fail especially the first time through. Each time we pick ourselves up and get back on the journey, we do better and better each time.”] That’s nature, that’s us! We’re human, so don’t give up. Over time, the more you stay in the maintenance stage, the more you recycle.
Eventually, you end up in stage six, which you’ll notice is determination phase or stage which means the change is basically constant now. You’ve changed that lifestyle and you can look back on the timeline, look in the mirror, and be like, Wow! I haven’t had dairy in like a year other than one or two or three times. That is when you truly have this last word here, folks, called transformation. You have actually transformed your life. You’ve transformed your habits, and you’ve probably transformed your health for the better. That’s what it’s all about! That’s the ultimate goal. The point of today’s talk is how long it takes. Folks, changing your lifestyle, holistic medicine, implementing this stuff is not easy. It is not a destination, even though there is a goal destination.”It is a journey, and it takes many stages (as many as six) to finally get the determination or transformation phase where you can take control of your health and transform your life.
I hope this has helped and be easy on yourself! Just keep picking yourself up, and get back on the wagon, back on the horse, back on the journey. As long as you’re here and you’re not six feet under, you still can make changes, you still can make your life better, you still can feel better, and there is always hope. Take care, everybody!
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