I thought about starting off with some sappy homage to Carla about how much I’ve loved reading her blog over the years, and what an inspiration she has been to me, but she already knows that and if you are reading this today then you probably already know it as well.
So, I’m going to introduce myself; I’m Erica.
I’m a generally happy, healthy person who used to be very unhappy and unhealthy.
I went from being morbidly obese (according to my BMI) to a 2x marathoner getting ready to start training for my next 2 marathons and my first ultra (which I’m still in denial about.)
I’m not special.
I’m just stubborn and decided a few years ago that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life unhappy.
In the last few years I’ve been able to quit:
- Smoking: I smoked a pack a day (or more!) for about 8 years and quit 2 years ago
- Tanning: After my first job in a tanning salon at 19 I tanned 5-6 times a week for almost 10 years. Quit last Summer!
- Being Obese: My BMI was over 30 for a few years and I successfully lost (and kept off) 55 pounds for the last 4 years
- Eating Meat : I became a vegetarian over 7 years ago out of respect for animals and my own health.
One of the most common questions I get is: How?!
I’ve discussed a little bit on finding the motivation to eat right and workout before but I gave a lecture on the topic of ‘committing to a change’ in my Drugs & Behavior class that I knew would be perfect to share here.
The Transtheoretical Model to Change is often used to describe the process addicts go in deciding to go to rehab. However, I ask my students to apply these stages to any change they are hoping to make in their life and this process can be applied to anything! Quitting smoking, eating right, exercising more – anything that you are currently unmotivated to actually commit to, but are entertaining the idea of trying. In counseling some addicts will undergo a type of therapy called Motivational Interviewing where a counselor basically helps them find motivation to propel them through the 5 stages of Change.
The 5 Stages of Change
- Pre-contemplation: Have zero desire to make a change and may not even be aware that you need to (in denial)
- Contemplation: You plan on making a healthy change in the next 6 months but are still kind of ambivalent about it so you don’t really care to start.
- Preparation: Now you’re ready to make a change within the next 30 days. You start to take small steps like telling friends and family what your goals are.
- Action: It has been less than 6 months since you’ve made your change. Here you need to find ways to stay committed and watch out for relapses into your old ways!
- Maintenance: It has been over 6 months since you made your healthy change. Congratulations!.
How do you move from one step to the next? Wikipedia offered therapists 10 great strategies to help make and maintain the change. I haven’t had any ‘junk food relapses’ since I stopped losing weight about two years ago. I know what it feels like to be overweight, and I know what it feels like to be healthy, and I cannot ever imagine going back to the way I was.
Need even more inspiration? Rock out to some classic M.J.! Seriously. Blast this shit and commit to yourself.
What change are you trying to make?