By By Nicola Davies, PhD
We’ve looked at why managing weight yields positive outcomes for people living with diabetes. Here, we look at successfully preparing to manage your weight. As with any challenge, preparation often holds the key to success.
When it comes to effectively managing your weight, it takes willingness, readiness and confidence &mdash: all of which empower you.
Weight management can’t happen if you aren’t open to accepting that certain areas of your life may need changing. If you really want to take control of your weight, then you need to be willing to look at various aspects of your life, such as the habits and routines that are contributing to your weight struggles. Next, you need to be willing to take steps to reduce or eliminate these destructive habits.
Rosemary Flynn, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology in South Africa, identifies the many reasons people might resist making changes.
• They don’t believe that weight loss can help.
• They eat when dealing with emotions like anger, sadness, or even happiness
• They have previously failed to lose weight and are convinced it isn’t worth the effort
• They engage in self-defeating thoughts and simply don’t believe they can do it
• They can’t sustain a diet for long, so they don’t bother starting
Seeking help from a counselor to deal with these issues is important, or any weight management efforts are likely to be short-term. Indeed, psychological help can help you prepare to manage your weight.
The best way to start your preparation is by identifying where you stand on the six stages of health behavior change motivation and then building your goals from there. These six stages are the following.
1. Pre-contemplation. Almost everyone has been in this stage, in which a health-care practitioner issues a warning that you don’t accept because you aren’t aware of your health problems and therefore aren’t motivated to address them.
2. Contemplation. During this stage, you think about about taking action and explore options but don’t make any commitment.
3. Preparation. People in this stage set reachable goals. It is important, for example, to set small goals at weekly intervals instead of something more dramatic such as “lose XX amount of weight in six months.”
4. Action. The next stage entails taking steps like joining a gym, finding a walking group, swimming laps daily, and preparing healthy meals.
5. Maintenance. This stage of your new healthier lifestyle — in which a more nutritious diet and physical activity routine have become habit — is often the most difficult. This is when self-control develops as changes are integrated; one bad day does not cause you to give up.
6. Termination. This stage means no further action in making lifestyle changes is needed — you are confident and in control of your weight management.
The very fact that you are reading this column suggests that you are in the contemplation or preparation stage or that you have possibly even taken action and are looking for ways to maintain your weight management efforts.
Whichever stage you are in, how can you advance to the next one? This is where confidence comes in.
Readiness and willingness can be catalysts for effective weight management. Sticking to a weight management plan, however, requires confidence. How certain are you that you can move from thinking about weight management toward making the necessary changes?
Remember to be patient and practical so that although you are focused on your weight management plan, you are also prepared to experience potential setbacks. Don’t think of them as failures. Failure doesn’t exist, not if you take a lesson from your setback and use it to help you move forward.
Making changes to help manage your weight isn’t always easy, but it is better to be the tortoise than the hare in the quest for long-term health and efficient weight management. Next time, we will be tackling weight management and your well-being, exploring the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, social, and physical aspects of weight management.
Want to learn more about weight management? Read “Tried and True Weight-Loss Techniques,” “Strategies for Weight Management,” and “Why Can’t I Lose Weight?”
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