This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
Habits are hard to break. This is especially true when it comes to your health. It’s very easy to fall into routines of not exercising, late-night snacking, eating out, watching several hours of television, and so on. In addition to diet and exercise-related health rituals, other behaviors that can be detrimental to health and similarly very hard to break free of include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine consumption, and self-loathing (or having a negative self-image)…and we all know how hard those can be to overcome!
Steps to Behavior Modification
In order to achieve permanent success in behavior modification, one must realize that it takes time. In fact, psychologists have outlined five Stages of Change that are used to identify how ready an individual is to tackle his or her negative health behaviors. These stages include
Notice that the first three stages are all centered around getting ready and realizing the need for change, whereas the last two focus on actually changing the behavior and maintaining the change. This is a long-term process; success will not—and should not—happen overnight. Truth be told, change is something we all need time to warm up to.
Modifying Your Behavior with Goals
One of the most successful interventions in modifying behavior is goal setting. The entire process encourages gradual change. If proper procedures are used, goal setting can serve to increase energy, effort, and focus.
One of the main reasons goal setting works in behavior modification is that the process creates a never-ending chain of events. In setting goals, you identify obstacles, which help you secure commitment to your goals, which helps you develop an action plan, which—once started—offers feedback on goal attainment, which helps you evaluate goal attainment, which leads to reinforcement of goal attainment, which allows you to set new goals when you are ready!