November 21, 2013

Don't Listen to Me, I'm a Hack!

Great example. This is a behavioural
approach to change. It doesn't take
into account the process before making
a change.  Complaining about something
maybe someone's process to awareness.
Without it, change may not be lifelong.
Seriously, don't listen to a word I write (if that makes sense).  I have spent most of my day today reading an old book (1994) on change by two of the most prominent researchers on the subject, Prochaska and DiClemente.  Since my undergrad in Kinesiology I thought the Stages of Change theory or Transtheroetical Model of Change was a little too simple. During my graduate program, I scoffed at it and kicked it around like an elementary school bully. It wasn't until two weeks ago, after verbalizing my frustration in my counselling internship, that I was recommended this book. Of course, at the time, I was thinking I knew everything there was to know on the Stages of Change...again, I was soooo wrong.

I am half way through and now understand the problem with health promotion. I get it now. The lights have turned on and they are sooooo bright I can hardly see. I can see why most people either drop out of my programs or relapse back into old behaviours. I can see why no weight loss program offered today will work long term. I thought I knew the answers and I even went so far as calling myself (I cringe to think about this) a "behaviour change specialist". OMG...how ignorant and arrogant have I been?

Needless to say, I feel vindicated in knowing that my gut instinct and the posts I have written about the superficial aspects of health promotion were correct.  I knew health promotion was missing something, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  We are only attending to the superficial products of health promotion and ignoring the acknowledgement of the influences and origins of the behaviour we are trying to change.

The Stages of Change theory (if you are not aware of it) suggests that we move through stages when we move through change.  Someone in the precontemplation stage (the first) isn't thinking they have a problem (while everyone else around them is), then you have the contemplation stage (thinking about change), then the preparation stage (preparing to change), the action stage comes next (actually making the change) followed by maintenance (sticking to it over 6 months), and termination (the change is permanent and is a part of your life).....in a nutshell.

So when I read that 20% of the "problem population" (meaning..the people wanting change) are in the action stage...the rest are pretty much screwed. No wonder people get so frustrated when they try to make change and fail miserably. Our courses, workshops, programs, classes, articles, and motivational speakers (God love their pointy little heads) are only focused on (ready for this?) ...20% of the population!!!!! My courses are based on Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT). This means I try and assist you with changing your beliefs and attitudes towards a behaviour (i.e. thinking about how you would love seduce the plate of nachos) thereby leading to a new behaviour (walking away from said plate of nachos and towards a salad bar). I know...my explanation is a little trite..but whatever.

It IS a process! As a health promoter and fitness trainer,
I have been rushing the process and not sitting in it
with my clients. What a dufus!!!!!!!!!

To put it bluntly, my health promotion program isn't effective for 80% of my population. My approach to behaviour change has only lead to my frustration and confused as to why people aren't changing. It's not the people that need to change...it's me!

Holy crap...do I ever have a love/hate relationship with these "light bulb" moments.

More to follow...

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