Do You Even Want to Change?


This is the first article in my series related to Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change.

As I talk more and more with my clients about the ins and outs and the ups and downs of following a WLS-friendly lifestyle, one main theme pops up again and again – change.

Now, I know what you are thinking. We all want to change, right? Nobody wants to see an unhealthy number on the scale or live a life with self-sabotaging behaviors that lead to regain.

Of course, we all want to change our lifestyle if it means long-term recovery from obesity. Don’t we?

The answer is yes and no.

It’s complicated really. Old habits and belief systems often sabotage our efforts. So, over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring Prochaska and DiClemente’s (1983) Stages of Change Model.

Let’s look at the first stage in the process, pre-contemplation.

What does it mean to contemplate? It means to deeply consider something. So, the stage of pre-contemplation is the time before we are even ready to consider making a change in our lives or with our unhelpful habits. At this stage, our ignorance is still bliss.

You may know on one level that continuing your old habits will ultimately sabotage your WLS goals, but you aren’t quite ready to say good-bye to the lifestyle you know so well.

A variety of lifestyle choices can threaten your WLS success.

Here are three examples:

Many of us aren’t willing to rethink our “comfort” foods even though they are the foods we turn to during emotional eating or binging episodes.

Most people understand that exercise plays a critical role in their ability to maintain a weight loss for a long period of time, and yet many of us continue to make excuses for our lack of mobility. We aren’t ready yet to contemplate a consistent workout practice.

Research shows that getting fewer than eight hours of sleep per night drastically impacts our ability to manage our weight. Strong evidence suggests that long-term sleep restriction (less than six-and-a-half hours per night) may cause a 40 percent drop in glucose tolerance.

What does that mean for women who have had WLS? It means that as our ability to handle glucose diminishes, our appetite increases. Getting plenty of sleep every night plays an important role in our ability to fight obesity, and yet you would be surprised at the number of people I talk to who are seriously sleep deprived.

Saying good-bye to old habits is a challenge. Often, we don’t even want to think about how our habits may be sabotaging us.

As we explore the stages of change, we have to ask ourselves, “How willing am I to change?” It may sound cliché to say that you have to want it bad enough, but essentially that’s what it boils down to. You must be willing to fight for the life you have always wanted and deserve to have.

How much do you want to be at goal? To be healthier? Are you ready to work for it? To get out of your comfort zone to achieve it?

If these questions frustrate you because you don’t really know how to answer, it may be worth having a conversation with someone who can support you as you sort that out.

If you are ready, it’s time to enter the next stage of the change cycle :).

Your Assignment

Look at your long-term WLS goals. If they are not written down, take some time to get them on paper. Then review your list and ask yourself, “Is my day-to-day routine consistent with someone who is serious about achieving these goals?”

If you find an inconsistency (or more than one), ask yourself, “Am I willing to consider changing my unhelpful beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors?” Write down three things you would consider changing that are threatening your WLS success.

Reference:  Prochaska and DiClemente’s (1983) Stages of Change Model

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