Understanding what it takes to make a lasting change...
Debbie Judd is a nurse for Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades —
authors of Protein Power. Debbie
writes for Body Trends, as well as with the Eades answering literally hundreds of emails, phone
calls and letters regarding the Protein Power plan.
"Those who look only to the past or present
are certain to miss the future."
— John F. Kennedy
It's easy to make a decision to change "who we are or how I want to be" but implementing
your decision and making it last requires having the tools to stay on target.
Debbie Judd, RN
The process of "change" can be frustrating and futile, if you don't understand how it
works. Even though we "know" the piece of pie isn't in our best dietary interest, why
is it that our heart "tells us" we need it? We would feel so much better if we could
just have a small piece or a few bites... Then, once we indulge, the guilt sets in so
we decide we've "blown it," so might as well eat the whole thing!
Increase your Awareness
Does this scenario sound familiar? How many times have you started a diet over again
and again just to find yourself back at the starting gate? Making the "unconscious"
conscious, or "consciousness-raising," was first described by Sigmund Freud. Raising
your level of awareness and increasing the amount of information available to you will
improve the likelihood of making intelligent decisions about the problem or behavior
you want to change.
Be Your Own Best Advocate
Alter your external and social environment to support your decision. Social liberation
will lend support to personally empower your behavior to change. Only eat at restaurants
that support your dietary needs; only socialize in "non-smoking" clubs if trying to stop
smoking; don't socialize with negative people if trying to incorporate a more positive
outlook on life. The increase in self-esteem will further empower you to believe in your
ability to change.
Become Aware of Your Defenses against Change
We often make excuses to continue an unfavorable habit until one day, someone close to
us experiences the very disease or problem we are inevitably avoiding. Your obese
brother is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and will likely suffer from long-term side
effects if he doesn't loose weight. Your mother has been diagnosed with lung cancer and
asks that you finally quit smoking. Emotional arousal parallels consciousness-raising,
but works on a deeper, feeling level. The goal of both is to increase awareness and
depth of feeling to move you towards action.
Evaluate Your Values
Give some thought to how your problem behavior conflicts with your personal values.
You hopefully will come to a place where you truly believe and feel that life would be
so much better without the problem. If trying to loose weight, perceive yourself as an
active, thin and energetic person. Evaluate the cost of the change in time, energy,
pleasure, stress and image. What are the pros and cons of trying to overcome your
problem? These are important questions to ask your-self when applying self-reevaluation.
The choice to change brings responsibility into the equation. This acknowledgement of
knowing you are the only one who is able to respond, speak, and act for yourself is
called "self-liberation." At first you tell yourself you are going to change and then
you go public. Announce to others that you have made a decision to change. This
self-applied pressure helps you stick to your program of change.
Substitute old Behaviors
Countering or replacing healthy behaviors or responses for old responses will counter
condition those old patterns. If you are more likely to over-eat sitting in front of
the television, then make a habit of eating only at the table. When stressed out, go
for a brisk walk instead of to the refrigerator. There are many good counter activities.
The trick lies in finding out what works for you.
Create an environment that supports your behavioral change. Remove candy, sweets and
junk food from your house. Place pictures of yourself on mirrors or the refrigerator
of when you liked how you felt and looked.
Elicit helping relationships along the way. Whether a friend, a spouse, professional
or clergy; helping relationships provide support, caring, understanding and acceptance.
Rewards for positive changes versus punishment for bad behavior will support the process
of change. Steps to reinforce your behavior include: self-appraisal, a gift to yourself,
or winning a bet with a friend.
Understanding the process of change will enable you to evaluate your progress or
realize where you get off track. Use this information daily to remind yourself that
change is a process and takes time.
Copyright © March 2004 Debbie Judd, RN and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury