Stages of Change
Happy New Year! January came and went quickly!
Does the New Year have you feeling inspired more than ever to make change? We all know we want to exercise more, eat more whole foods, and feel better! But HOW do we make the required lifestyle changes?
Let’s first review The Stages of Change. If you know where you currently are, it will help you move more easily toward where you want to go.
WHAT STAGE OF CHANGE DESCRIBES YOUR CURRENT LOCATION?
- Precontemplation: Everybody thinks you have a problem but you. The best example is the wife dragging her husband to the doctors because of her concerns for his health
- Contemplation: You are aware you have a problem, but feel it’s really hard to change. Depression is at an all-time high because you know you should change but feel like you can’t. It’s not the right time with Valentine’s Day & Birthday’s this month plus fear of change are common barriers. You feel stuck.
- Preparation: You haven’t made changes yet but have made some of the initial steps. You have been thinking more about what you want and why. You have been looking at different foods in the grocery store. You’ve been reading and preparing.
- Action: You have started making the change you have desired to make. You are no longer afraid to give up old patterns and you move right into the action.
- Maintenance: You have achieved your goal. Your feel stable with this change in your life and it is now a part of you. It’s time to circle back to precontemplation and start the process over to layer in the next piece of your care plan.
WATCH THIS INTERVIEW
HOW DO WE MOVE THROUGH THE STAGES OF CHANGE?
CHANGE HAPPENS IN COMMUNITY
Change happens in community, not in isolation. If our friends and families are eating toxic food then we are 50% more likely to repeat those same patterns. Families work together to identify what do they want and what are some small changes they can make together. Our homes are the headquarters for our healing. Everyone in the home gets on board with the nutrition and lifestyle required to heal the one with the diagnosis. This creates a United Team; which makes social situations much easier to navigate. When we feel good and confident about our choices and when we practice being Matter of Fact that we are choosing rather than acting as though we are being deprived our friends interests may be peaked. Chances are they too are living with a chronic condition. Read HERE for some more social strategies.
FEAR OF CHANGE
Change: to cause to be different. Doing something different can be uncomfortable, even frightening. Fear of change is a big issue. This makes us stay with what we know even if we are unhappy. But note: staying the same and not making any decision to change are still decisions. A good tool is to use the Change Assessment Tool. What are the pros to remaining the same; what are the cons? What are the pros to changing, what are the cons?
ESTABLISHED THOUGHT PATTERNS
Your brain actually wires itself and forms neuronal connections based on what you do over and over in your life. Vegging out in front of the TV. Having a sugar fix. Sipping soda. Fixing a cocktail to unwind after work. Smoking cigarettes. Biting your fingernails. These activities literally become wired into your brain. Your brain is a self-reinforcing feedback loop. We are creatures of habit. Over time, patterns evolve which determine your brain’s form and function. What you do, experience, think, hope, and imagine physically changes your brain.You may have the desire to change but you first have to dissolve the old tracking so the pattern is no longer automatic and unconscious. How? Read more here.
CHANGE HAPPENS OVERTIME, NOT IN 2 MONTHS
When we start this road to heal the root cause of our symptom sets; it’s something we will start and only getter better at living the solution. It’s not something we try for a few months and then give up because we don’t see the results we are seeking. You must identify small steps, which are reasonable, and which interest you. Overtime, these small steps will accumulate into big change. Overhauling our lives and then growing exhausted and more stressed from the drastic change is counter intuitive to healing. Look for our next post on care plans.
THE SILVER BULLET MYTH
There is no one thing that you can do to improve any one symptom. These foundation pieces to a Functional Medicine Care Plan must be priority. This foundation is how we make the medical interventions provide results. There is no silver bullet. Results come from establishing a strong foundation. Next you continue layering pieces to work in combination to maximize the medical piece. Once you place something into your plan you maintain it just like pouring the footers of a home’s foundation. What small things can you do to improve the following foundation pieces?
- Sleep and Relaxation
- Exercise & Movement
- Nutrition & Hydration
- Stress and Resilience (identify stressors and areas where they have been successful in the past so to tap into strengths)
- Relationships and Networks
Kara Ware is Good Medicine’s Clinical Coordinator and Functional Medicine Health Coach. She also provides online courses and coaching for families living with Autism. You can read more here.