Whenever you make change in behavior patterns in your life, there are 6 basic steps:
1) awareness-becoming conscious of the pattern or issue,
2) acknowledgement-admitting you need to make a change,
3) choice-actively deciding to make change,
4) strategy-creating a realistic plan,
5) commitment-taking action,
6) celebration-reward yourself for your successes.
As you are working toward making behavior change, it is important to be gentle with yourself. Too often, people are overly hard on themselves in the early phases of change, especially if there are any set backs or progress isn’t moving as quickly as one would like. However, you will ultimately be more successful if you treat yourself like a good friend and stop beating up on yourself. Taking smaller steps and tackling one component of change at a time will also increase your likelihood of success.
Behavior follows basic steps in development of habit. A cue or trigger occurs which leads to the behavior itself which is then followed by some kind of reinforcement; the entire process creates a habit or behavior cycle. Understanding each piece of the process is important to making a change in the habit or cycle. Within the “cue” or “trigger” component, you need to ask yourself “What happened? What are the circumstances leading to a behavior?” The behavior in this case is eating for the wrong reasons or overeating. The reinforcer is the payoff and you need to ask yourself “Why did I believe that behavior was good in this situation? Why will I be likely to repeat the behavior?”
Here is an example to get you started: Cue = “I had a fight with my partner”, Behavior = “ I went for ice cream”, Reinforcer = “I felt comforted.” To add to this sequence and to make change, the next steps are to identify the negative consequences and the positive alternatives. Using the example above; negative consequence = “I feel bad about my lack of self control. I keep gaining weight.”, positive alternative = “ I talk to my friends or my partner about the fight to resolve my emotions.” OR “I exercise to release some of the physical tension the fight produced.” Practice identifying your cycles of behavior related to the reasons you eat (from last week). Use a worksheet to identify:
As you move forward in your behavior changes toward weight management, keep in mind these relapse prevention ideas. A lapse in behavior does not inevitably mean a relapse. Notice little changes in your mood & behavior. Listen to others’ input-their reactions to us can give us information about our own behavior or feelings. Identify your urges and outlast them. Don’t overreact to situations or to lapse behaviors. Continue to reward your successes in big and small ways.