In today’s episode, we will chat about the necessary steps to creating a health plan that works for you. We will first talk about what behavior is important for you to change, 5 steps in the behavioral change model, SMART goals, and creating an accountability and support network.
Create a PLAN for your health with me!
Tricia Stefankiewicz, MA RD CNSC
In previous episodes, we’ve talked about why whole health is important and how taking consistent steps can lead to lasting behavior change. In today’s episode, we will chat about the necessary steps to creating a health plan that works for you. We will first talk about what behavior is important for you to change, 5 steps in the behavioral change model, SMART goals, and creating an accountability and support network. Let’s review some steps in creating a health plan that works for you.
Pick a behavior you want to change: Examples include going to bed earlier, flossing your teeth, prepping your meals ahead of time, starting an exercise routine, lose weight, drink more water
Find your why? Why is this change important to you?
What do you want to change this behavior? How will doing this behavior change your daily quality of life. How will making this change make you feel good today? Behavior that makes us feel good with an immediate reward may work better than a behavior done out of fear of guilt.
I.e. Meditating for stronger brain function isn’t as good as meditating will make me feel calmer and have clearer thoughts.
Where are you at in actually wanting to change your behavior? How strong is your motivation to change?
Behavior Change Model – 5 stages of behavior change – goal is to move to the next step, overall lets us become aware of our current motivation to change
- In this stage, person may not be aware that a problem exists and not actively working to change the behavior, maybe even in denial
- In this stage, person may be more aware that a problem exists but not making any commitment to change the behavior, hesitant to change behavior
- In this stage, person may start to have the desire to start acting, maybe start thinking they can do it and make some small changes towards their goal
- In this stage, person is actively practicing the desired behavior, working hard to identify triggers or things that will hamper their progress
- In this stage, person is practicing the desired new behavior– replacing the old behavior; typically, after you are doing the behaviors for 6 months
You may go back and forth between the stages until you learn the last time you tried to change this behavior. Behavior change will likely not occur in the pre-contemplation or contemplation change. It’s probably not going to happen unless you decide that you want it to happen. It is about being intentional and not passive. Relapse is common and mostly inevitable and is part of the process.
Write down your goal
You are much more likely to achieve the goal if you write it down, may provide focus and motivation
- Specific (very specific about what you want to achieve)
- Measurable (how many days per week are you going to do this behavior)
- Attainable (do you have the resources and time to achieve this goal)
- Realistic (not setting a goal too high to achieve, small achievable goals may be more achievable)
- Time bound (time period to achieve the goal by, deadline)
Smart goal examples:
- Exercise for 30 minutes at least four days per week for 12 weeks
- Eat 2 meals at home for dinner each week for the next 2 months
- Can also google a SMART goals worksheet for other examples
Write down you plan for changing behavior and anticipate any behavior that may challenge your goal
- Identify the things in your life that would need to change for your behavior to change
- Notice patterns of past behavior that interfered with you being able to make the behavior change you desired
- Think about what the lifestyle factors getting in the way of what you want to achieve
- Recognize any negative self-talk or self-criticism and establish how to challenge this thinking
Create accountability and a support system
This can include friends, family, online support group, work colleagues for daily or weekly check-ins
Review your goals often so that you can figure out what worked and what didn’t in working towards those goals
Smart Phone apps including: Goal setting tracker planner, habit tracker, Strides: Goal & Habit tracker, or Done: A simple habit tracker
You can join my Free FB community or contact me for private coaching if you need additional accountability or support
Visualize your success
This could include a vision board on your phone or simply taking a pic of something you want to achieve and setting it as your home screen on your smart phone or computer so that you have a daily reminder of what you wish to achieve.
Celebrate small successes
This practice helps boost confidence that you can do the new behavior and keeps you motivated to practice the behavior. This can include a new outfit, new undergarments, main, Pedi, book.
Plan for consistency – not perfection.
Consistency is what helps create a habit and provide motivation when you don’t feel like doing the desired behavior. Perfection doesn’t exist and may even derail health progress if we feel like we didn’t meet our goal for the day
Let go of any of the negative feelings or judgement for past attempts at trying to change your behavior. It’s not helpful and may even lead to feeling or failure that will ultimately hinder your health progress.
In conclusion, most of us know what to start a behavior change. However, we rely on motivation to keep us going not considering that motivation fades as time goes on. Writing down your goal, checking in with your accountability partner or the status of your goal weekly will help keep you motivated to making this behavior a habit. This journey into changing behavior will take time and effort and may even require you to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being 1% better each day.