Step 1: Precontemplation You’re here if: You have the nagging feeling that you really do need to, say, start exercising and eating better. But delay rules. Where should you start?
How to Move to Step 2: • Tune in to your excuses. When a friend invites you to a yoga class, how do you respond? Do you decline the invite, blaming a busy schedule? Your bad back? Facing your excuses is the first step toward overcoming them.
Tally the benefits of change. If you lost weight you’d lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. You’d also boost your energy, feel more attractive, and fit easily into your clothes. The upside of the status quo…? Case closed.
• Ask for help. Let your friends know you’re struggling with your decision and that pushing you is exactly what you don’t need. What is helpful: gently pointing out your delaying tactics.
Step 2: Contemplation You’re here if: You know you have to modify your behavior but don’t know how–and you’re still afraid of failing.
How to Move to Step 3:
• Educate yourself. Read articles and books about the new habit you want to cultivate. For instance, doing cardio not only burns calories but helps stave off memory loss. Also, get a reality check from your doctor: Unlike your husband, who may not mind the 30 pounds you’ve gained, your doc should tell you bluntly about how excess weight may be harming your health.
• Work through ambivalence. When you fall back on a familiar excuse, ask yourself, Is this true? Do you really have no time to work out when in fact you watch reruns of Law and Order twice a week? Connect your interest in changing with something you value- -for example, if dropping 20 pounds means you have more energy to join your husband and kids on their yearly ski trips.
• Dip your toe in the water. Want to start a walking program some day? Do a test run now by going for a short brisk walk to see how it feels. “It’s like warming up your engine,” Prochaska says. “By taking those small steps, you’ll be motivated to launch your plan.”
Step 3: Preparation
You’re here if: You’re ready to undertake the hard work required to, for example, lose weight, shape up, or manage stress better—and you’re taking small steps to commit to the effort for at least 6 months.
Move to the starting line:
• Make room for your goal. You may need to reorganize your kids’ schedules or delegate certain household responsibilities. Then pencil in cooking, exercise, or meditating on your daily calendar just as you would for a meeting, says Maryann Troiani, PsyD, a psychologist in Barrington, IL, and coauthor of Spontaneous Optimism.
• Map out a plan. If you’re going to upgrade your diet, should you see a nutritionist? Stock up on certain foods? “If you can’t write down your plan or explain it to a 10-year-old, you’re not ready,” says John C. Norcross, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton and coauthor of Changing for Good . Anticipate potential obstacles: If a work deadline will interfere with your exercise schedule, map out a short lunchtime walk.
• Take your plan public. Set a start date and clue in family and close friends. “Once you say it out loud, it becomes a commitment that other people know about, which creates pressure on you to follow through,” Norcross says.
Now that you’ve laid the necessary groundwork, you surely will. So, are you ready? Get set… Now go! By Stacey Colino, who lives in Maryland, where she writes about health and psychology issues Posted on: http://www.prevention.com/