Five Steps to Make Healthy Changes Stick

Cutting the

Few of the people who make a New Year's Resolution to stop being a couch potato, eat more vegetables or lose weight actually manage to break their bad habit. Once again proving that it is difficult to make healthy changes stick. In fact, without professional help, most attempts at making lifestyle changes fail sooner or later. But, Dr. James Prochaska, professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, believes changing your behavior should be viewed as a process and not an event.

"Some people progress steadily from one stage to the next," says Dr. Prochaska "but many others stall at one stage or slide back to earlier stages several times before they succeed." Listed below are five stages that he thinks might help you break your bad habits for good:

  1. Pre-contemplation - Unfortunately, the first step is where many people fail. For example, you may know that you are at an unhealthy weight but you don't actually formulate a plan that includes cutting calories or adding a daily exercise routine.
  2. Contemplation - In this stage, you accept the fact that you have a problem with your weight but haven't really committed to a weight loss plan. You are however are aware that your bad habits are hurting your health and wellness.
  3. Preparation - You start planning a course of action by talking to friends or doing a little online research as your belief in your ability to make a difference begins to grow.
  4. Action - You walk into a weight loss clinic to discuss how their strategies might help you reach your goals. You stop filling your grocery cart with processed foods and unhealthy snacks. You begin an exercise regimen.
  5. Maintenance - This can be the hardest stage as your old cravings and bad habits reoccur. By now you know what to do and must remain diligent in avoiding relapses.

According to Dr. Prochaska, if you do slip up, don't fret. You've already learned what to do in the previous stages of development. Now is the time to be proactive and reinstate your successful weight loss strategies.


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