I’m reminded of many situations in which people have been referred to a therapist to lose weight and yet they’re just not quite ready.
In 2013, about 2.1 billion people — 30% of the world's population — were overweight. Half of the survey respondents considered themselves overweight with 50% wanting to start dieting.
While we typically think of diet change as happening when we’re actually “doing” something, a lot of critical stages take place beforehand.
Some people experience a "trigger" that propels them into taking action toward losing weight. This might be a conversation with a loved one, a realization that their weight is impeding their lifestyle or an appeal from a health clinician. Yet there are five stages to be completed before successful weight loss is achieved. You may have been very active with stage one and progressed to stage two. But stage two may need more consideration before stage three the action stage of weight loss occurs.
Stage One: In the precontemplation stage, people are not thinking seriously about changing and are not interested in any kind of help. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habits and do not feel it is a problem. Are you in the precontemplation stage? No, because the fact that you are reading this shows that you are already ready to consider that you may have a problem with one or more bad habits
Stage Two: In the contemplation stage people are more aware of the personal consequences of their bad habits and they spend time thinking about their problem. Although they are able to consider the possibility of changing, they tend to be ambivalent about it. In this stage, people are on a teeter-totter, weighing the pros and cons of quitting or modifying their behaviour It might take as little as a couple weeks or as long as a lifetime to get through the contemplation stage. On the plus side, people are more open to receiving information about their bad eating habits, and more likely to actually use educational interventions and reflect on their own feelings and thoughts concerning their bad habits.
Stage Three: In the preparation stage, people have made a commitment to make a change. Their motivation for changing is reflected by statements such as: “I’ve got to do something about my weight, this is serious. Something has to change. What can I do to lose weight?” This is sort of a research phase; people are now taking small steps toward cessation. They are trying to gather information about what they will need to do to change their behaviour.
Stage Four: This is the action stage where people believe they have the ability to change their behaviour and are actively involved in taking steps to change their eating behaviour by using a variety of different techniques. This is the shortest of all the stages. The amount of time people spend in action varies. It generally lasts about 3-6 months. This is a stage when people most depend on their own willpower. They are making overt efforts to quit and change their eating behaviour and are at greatest risk for relapse.
Stage Five: Maintenance involves being able to successfully avoid any temptations to return to bad eating habits by maintaining a healthy life style diet. People are acquiring new skills such as learning to dance, to avoid relapse by changing social habits. They are able to anticipate the situations in which a relapse could occur and prepare coping strategies in advance. They are patient with themselves and recognize that it often takes a while to let go of old behaviour patterns and practice new ones until they are second nature to them.
So what stage do you see yourself at? Then it’s now time to move on to the next stage so that you eventually achieve your goal within the planned time frame, to loss weight and sustain healthy life style changes.
Remember it all started in the mind: Stage one!
(This article relates to The Transtheoretical Model of Change)