Blog - When are you ready?
It is well known that a weight lifters best friend is that eternal extension of their natural hand known as the protein shaker. If you ever enter a gym and don’t spot ‘this guy’ leaning against a sturdy bit of metal apparatus staring at his arms in the mirror whilst swigging from his bottle, it sends you into a state of confusion. They are after all a constant in that environment, just like the mirrors themselves. It’s alright, don’t panic; their over there using another mirror to ogle his biceps. However, all jokes aside, this individual I jokingly mocked has undoubtedly worked very hard to achieve their desired form. For which he/she deserves some respect, after all we all know how difficult it can be to get to the gym, let alone have the determination and discipline to see it through and reach our goal. They have persevered through their own battles to achieve their results.
All so often I have worked with clients who relapse for whatever reason, most of the time a good trainer will identify potential barriers and an individual’s state of readiness before they leave the initial consultation. The fact of the matter is that everyone has the ability to give up and in reality most people will miss a session at some point. What cuts the successful from the failures is ones capacity to get back on the wagon. After all; it’s not how you fall down, it’s how you pick yourself up.
There are several stages of readiness in terms of behavioural change:
Pre-contemplation – you are unaware of there being a problem, thus not considering change
Contemplation – you are considering change and becoming increasingly conscious of your health
Preparation – you acknowledge the benefits of exercising, and exercise irregularly. Small behavioural changes have taken place
Action – the penny drops and you begin exercising regularly, you’re practicing behavioural changes
Maintenance – you’ve continued to exercise regularly for over 6 months, benefits are visible and behavioural changes are now routine
Termination – you’ve been exercising regularly for 3+ years and enjoy it, continuing indefinitely; physically fit and healthy and the behavioural changes are now permanent
Relapse – the term associated with failure, a moment where barriers prevent participation. If this occurs emotions such as guilt, anger, denial and frustration are felt. You always have an excuse for missing sessions or eating that sugary snack
Relapse’s can occur at any point and although some people are less prone to them, they can certainly happen to anyone. So what causes a relapse? Well relapses are caused when you place a barrier between yourself and the participation of exercise, or lifestyle change. Common causes are injury, life changes such as work and personal. When people encounter these barriers they will use several different approaches to justify their lack of involvement, the main thing to remember is that relapse is a natural part of the changing process. Thus, there is no reason to panic or beat yourself up; just take some time to re-compose yourself.
How do I avoid this from happening? By identifying situations that may cause a relapse and developing strategies to avoid this occurring is a good start. An example would be someone trying to lose weight and they are going to dinner with friends. Avoiding social events is by no means a solution, neither is deciding to order the creamiest most highly saturated fat containing dishes. Instead consider what choices are best. When you order specify how you want it served i.e. salad with dressing on the side.
The National Dunbar Fitness Survey 1992 (England), found that the following barriers, in order, to be the most common reasons for failing to begin or maintain changes in lifestyle habit:
- Not enough time
- Not being the sporty type
- Work pressure
- I need to rest in my spare time
- Lack of support
- Not having enough energy
- An injury or other physical disability
- I would never be able to keep up
You may recognise a few or even be using one at the moment. All barriers can be overcome or avoided, a lot of the time it comes back to perspective and developing good coping strategies.
One of the classic behavioural patterns is something people do to balance a sensation referred to as cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when you have 2 thoughts that contradict each other. This leads to you feeling tension, in order to relieve this discomfort you must take action. An example would be someone who is trying to lose weight, but they are offered a chocolate bar. The conflict is that they really want to lose weight but they also want to eat the chocolate, the rational action would be to not eat the chocolate and do something else to occupy the mind. Rather than do this many people would eat the chocolate and then justify the action – “one won’t hurt” or “I’ll work extra hard at bootcamp”. Essentially opting for an irrational choice and then justifying it as a rational.
You will have witnessed friends and family and no doubt, yourself do this over time. It’s important to understand these hurdles and have coping mechanisms in place. It can take time but you will learn to manage all eventualities. Understanding the people in your circle of influence is very important as well, although loved ones always want the best for each other. People’s ideas of what is ‘best’ may differ. By knowing what to expect when you meet with different friends, you will be able to strategize ways of avoiding bad choices.
Life has a unique way of challenging everyone. She FITNESS instructors are health and fitness professionals who are trained and qualified experts in offering strategies to overcome these barriers. With vast experience under our belts, we are best positioned to guide you to reaching your health and fitness goals.
For more information contact Mark or Richie.
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