From my search on self-initiated behavior change, I've discovered that whether people are trying to form a good habit or break a bad one, they go through the same stages of change. Of these stages, the most crucial and the most challenging -- Is the last one: maintenance. "Staying there" is often more difficult than "Getting There" in the first place. Let me tell you; I don't speak to you from lack of experience! My whole life existed around this issue. Do you know how many times I worked so hard to exercising only to gain the weight again? More times then I can say. What can you do to keep yourself on the right track?
1. Emphasize the long haul. Difference between the short, intense "trip" of beginning exercise and the long haul of maintaining it is well illustrated by efforts at weight loss. In the short term, many diets seem effective; however, in the long term the success rate is usually low. The moral of the story? Look at the bigger picture. Really "getting into" exercise for a couple of months isn't enough. You need to learn habits that will last a lifetime. I mean change the way you look at it or phrase it, consider changing your mindset just a little to "Self Improvement Journey" Make sure your exercise program includes variety, flexibility and fun. It is time to remember what it is like to play. Remember when you were a kid and had nothing on your mind but playing? If you enjoy working out, you'll want to keep it up.
2. Watch for Danger Signals. There are two reactions for which you should be on the lookout in the maintenance stage: Overconfidence and self-blame. I cannot say enough how many times I felt both of these stages during my journey of desires.
- Overconfidence. Once your well into your program, it's easy to start feeling complacent and even a bit cocky. Telltale signs are boasting (I've changed my lifestyle forever!") And insisting there's no problem ("Ill get back to my workouts next week.") Just being aware of the natural propensity toward overconfidence may prevent you from taking those first few steps down the road to relapse. Do you know after I lost 70 pounds I still honestly experienced the stage of overconfidence? Now be careful! The mind is very cunning; it will feed you with some pretty fine levels of BS. The mind will give you a reason to eat what is not on your plan every time. You have to be quicker, smarter and know what your eventual vision is. I mean know with all your heart! I know this because; I have walked in your shoes and lived all the stages of this story. I am giving you the honest steps to take; it will take work and learning that goals happen "One day at a time."
- Self Blame. In several studies, he severity of misplaced self-blame shows up as the best predictor of failed maintenance. Occasionally feeling guilty about missed exercise sessions in normal—and can even prompt a commitment to change. But, I will tell you the key of all keys is to not feel guilty! But, to recognize choice.( Choose)the realization here is to recognize that if we are focusing on today's goals and results. There are several hours in the day. The day has given you many opportunities to choose desire—to make a wish—to take action towards your lifelong happiness. So don't feel guilty but choose a different choice! When you focus on missed exercise sessions, you become demoralized and inactive. Instead, focus on your successes.
3. Check your Thinking. Successful maintainers slip along the way to success. But they don't let one slip become a fall. One lapse does not become a relapse. By contrast, people who relapse do not recover from a single slip, thinking, in essence, whole exercise program is ruined. "If you slip and miss a session, check your thinking, pick yourself up and continue on toward the goal of lifetime maintenance.
4. Make a list of the Problems. To renew your commitment to exercise, try making a list of the difficulties you encountered when you first started your program, as well as negative behaviors you were trying to overcome. This technique should remind you of why you started exercising and convince you that it's easier to stick with your program than it would be to start all over again.
5. Reward Yourself. If exercise always felt good or convenient, it would be it's own reward. However, sometimes it's inconvenient and even downright difficult; devise a creative reinforcement system to "Pat yourself on the back" for keeping up with your exercise program. Take credit for the efforts you're making and be proud of your progress. If you are changing your eating lifestyle as well. I share my own philosophy for added success. My recipe is a weekend splurge! Now don't get me wrong, I\I don't mean to go out and make yourself sick by eating everything in sight. I mean choose a day to reward yourself and you will experience a little secret. It's not really a secret. Your spirit, that inner blessing that is always there will reward you with love. (Meaning weight loss) trust me! I have reaped the rewards.
6. Solicit Support. As one of my clients recently said, "I wish friends would keep up the congratulations as long as they kept giving me grief about my weight and poor fitness!" Let your friends and family members know their continued support means a lot to you. If you're feeling your commitment slip, join a support group or get an exercise group together. I just spoke to one of my new friends today on just this topic, believe me it made all the difference in the world when I lost my 70 pounds to have a friend to just listen and pat me on the back.
Click HERE for Part 2: Acheiving All Your Goals.