Hitting the Reset Button

January brings a chance to hit the reset button and start new habits or change old behaviors. We’ve all seen it, in January the gyms are packed, co-workers begin new diets, and by February the momentum seems to slow down. Research shows that people are more likely to stick with healthy habits if they have walked through the stages of behavior change. In 2020, consider a new approach to a New Year resolution by examining what stage of behavior change you are experiencing and how to move forward toward your goals. SNCC’s Registered Dietitian
Melanie Mitchell, has tips and suggestions to make your goals last.

Stages of habit change include contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. In addition, tracking behavior change and planning for challenges are an important part of the process. In the contemplation stage, you may recognize something needs to change to make your life better. For example, at 3 pm every day you feel exhausted and work performance decreases therefore you recognize that going to bed at 1 am every night is a habit that needs to change. Contemplating the pros and cons of changing the behavior is important during this stage because it allows the individual to see the good that could come out of change as well as some of the obstacles that may be present. Preparation is the second stage of behavior change in which the individual brainstorms how to approach a new habit.

Planning out how exercise might fit into your schedule or collecting low-fat recipes might be a way to prepare for changes that will result in achieving a healthy weight. Action is the next stage however is often the stage that people initially jump too. Walking through the first two stages of behavior change will help solidify the action stage and make it more likely for you to stick with new habits. For example, if you are diabetic, action might be checking your blood sugars three times daily and logging the readings. Finally, maintaining your behavior change is the final stage which includes being prepared for obstacles or roadblocks that might arise.

Below illustrates how one might walk through the stages of behavior change:

  1. Contemplation- “When I am stressed or anxious I make poor diet choices. If I manage my stress better, maybe I will be able to make healthier diet choices.”
  2. Preparation- “I’m ready to manage my stress better and have decided to use a meditation app on my phone every day at 3 pm when I feel the most stress.”
  3. Action- “Every day my timer reminds me to meditate at 3 pm and I have been able to maintain this habit for the last month. I’m eating less in the evening because I feel calmer.”
  4. Maintenance- “Last week I didn’t have any time to meditate because work was hectic, my diet has been terrible, but I will start back up today.”

For more information on the stages of behavior change visit:
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diet-nutrition/changing-habits-better-health

If you are a patient and have questions about your diet, please ask your oncologist at your next appointment about receiving a complimentary nutritional session with Melanie Mitchell, SNCC Registered Dietitian.

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