Take a Step (or two) and Make the Change!

Start your morning heart healthy!

Oats n berries, with a side of yogurt, and green tea!

Nothing like a bowl full of fiber and antioxidants, with a side of yogurt with unsweetened cocoa for some more antioxidents, protein, and live active cultures, and a big mug of green tea .

While at the gym this morning, I was thinking about the idea of change – lifestyle changes…they are everywhere! I used to just think about lifestyle changes relating to health and fitness; however, I realized, “DUH KAREN! you have made about 345678 lifestyle changes within less than a year!” Some have been for the better, some…not so much. Now let’s see…in the past year, I graduated college and moved across the country with Mat and began living together, worked at Crunch, left and worked at Teavana, Express and Coffee Bean – after the holidays I left Teavana and Express, I began my own “business” in personal training, bought my very first car (his name is Benny :)),  accepted my first real full-time job as a physical therapy aide, and recently got accepted into Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies to work on a Master’s Degree in Applied Nutrition! WHEW!  Not to mention, this was all done in Los Angeles – quite the brutal city, where it is every man for himself out here! I had an epiphany that I had about a 3-month span with my places of employment – now that is pathetic in my view, as I like to create long relationships (I am not a fan of the here now, gone tomorrow kind of people – looks like I’ve been quite the hypocrite!). The good thing is that, I learned A LOT about myself in each of these jobs: Crunch – I will never work for a corporate gym, Teavanna & Express – I could not STAND the customers at our local mall, and I learned I really have no tolerance for rude non-English-speaking people (hey, at least I can admit it).  But each of them had one major thing in common: sales…I hate sales -it can be so heartless! I am purposely trying to stay at Coffee Bean for as long as I can to break this “3-month” curse that I put on myself!

Now how does this relate to healthy lifestyles and fitness? Well, it is all about the idea of “promoting behavior change.” Whenever we want to make a change, typically to improve one or another aspect of our lives, we go through several stages: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, and Maintenance.

Precontemplation: This is before thought has been made to create a change. In terms of health, education is important to help reveal myths about health and fitness – a person is typically sedentary or getting very little physical activity, and most likely making unhealthy options in their diet. In my case with work, I was struggling to make ends meet with any job I could find, but did not consider my stress level and happiness.

Contemplation: This is where a little lightbulb begins to flicker on, “hey, maybe I ought to do something about this to help better my overall wellbeing.” Once someone enters this stage, they are looking to begin their changes within 6 months. Again, education is key in this stage to recognize fact from fiction, as well as weighing pros and cons to beginning this lifestyle change.

Preparation Stage: This is where the person is ready to make the change; however, participation is sporadic and irregular. So for new gym-goers, they might go to the gym here and there…maybe get a little cardio in one evening, and use some weight machines later on in the week – nothing is routine yet. In order to get past this stage you need to set and examine your goals. Ask yourself these two important questions: is this goal realistic? Why is my activity so sporadic, what are the barriers preventing me from making this a regular routine?

Action Stage: This stage is actually the most fragile – and it can last up to 6 months. A person has made the change, overcome some of their barriers to create more of a routine; however, there is a 50% chance of relapsing and going back to the old habits. This happens in so many aspects of life. For example, with my employment – I only lasted about 3 months until I decided that was not the job for me. In nutrition someone might decide to eat super healthy for a few weeks, they’re on the right track, then they go to a party or an event occurs and with one or two binges they decide to throw off their whole diet. Or possibly they get fatigued of preparing fresh meals, and decide to just give up and go back to convenience foods. And with fitness, an  event can occur to throw off a fitness schedule, or the biggest factor of any situation: decline of motivation. Motivation is KEY in this stage. We will always hit some kind of plateau causing discouragement; but we have to keep that motivation level up. Look at the progress that has already happened, and keep in mind it is all about baby steps. This is why many find it so difficult to keep their new years resolutions. Think about it, you make the pact to change January 1st; well, it won’t be until about June 1st until you have officially made that change part of your personal lifestyle.

Maintenance Stage: This is the final stage. To reach this stage, a person must be about 6 months post-change. So for fitness, a person will have been active for 6 months. As time goes by, the risk of relapse and drop-out declines greatly. This is like the “Graduation” into your new lifestyle. To maintain this new lifestyle, you should always do things to mix things up a little bit – this way, you won’t get stuck into boring routines (which will increase your drop-out risk).  Always try to keep things interesting and moderately challenging…who doesn’t love overcoming a mini challenge every ow and then? It gives us such a great sense of worth. That challenge can be anything as little as getting through a tough work-out session, or as big as completing and finalizing a new business plan.

Go ahead and evaluate where you are on your New Year’s resolutions, have you stuck with them? If not, what were your barriers preventing you from making it a lifestyle change? And what can you do to get back on track…because today can be the day to get back on that treadmill and hike towards improving your lifestyle! (Now how is that for motivation? haha).
*Be sure to set S.M.A.R.T. goals! They ought to be Specific, Measurable (don’t set a goal to “lose weight” – how much are we gonna lose?), Action Oriented, Realistic (this ensures success), and there must be a Time Frame involved (let’s have a set date on when we want to see progress or results).

And silly me, I just realized the connection between the theme of “Changes” in this post and the fact that I just changed my layout last night…complete coincidence! haha.

Now I’m off to figure out what to do for lunch, and get some nitty gritty paperwork done all the way in Culver City  (yeah, the one downfall about this new job is that it is a rough commute…but our lease is up in a few short months! woohoo!).

2 thoughts on “Take a Step (or two) and Make the Change!

  1. This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today!!!!
    And something that I only just now figured out is that it’s harder to find the “maintenance” level of change if you are trying to balance more than one change at the same time! So I have to remind myself to STAY focused and remember to “breath” in order to maintain a healthy regimen — sometimes that’s the hardest part for me.

    And your lease is up in a few months? I CANNOT believe that you’ve been out there almost a YEAR!!!!!! btw – don’t forget to send an updated addy so I can keep sending you fun stuff 😉

    • HOORAY! I am so glad And I will let you know that you have been a huge inspiration in my life miss Traci – you are such a daring go-getter, I have always admired that about you. Keep on truckin along cuz! And I know, I cannot believe how time has flown by, so crazy!!

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