Health & Wellness Articles

4 Steps to Lasting Behavioral Change

Learn From Your Own Experience


In the strategy stage, the core skill is creative thinking. If you decide that something needs to change, the most effective way to determine what kind of change will work is to imagine what things will be like after you have made the changes. Work backwards from there to figure out the particular steps you need to take in order to get from where you were to this new imagined place. Think of it as a creative form of reverse engineering.

In the action stage, the core skill is process thinking, an often-neglected aspect of effective problem solving. You are probably used to solving problems by thinking in terms of different outcomes: burning x number of calories instead of y; increasing your exercise heart rate from 60% to 70%; staying at the low end of your calorie range instead of the middle or high end, and so on. But deciding that a particular change is what needs to happen isn’t the same thing as successfully making that change. To follow through may require knowing how to find the extra time needed, digging a little deeper to find the motivation and perseverance to get through the discomforts, and changing your priorities and values, if necessary. Process thinking is about becoming your own best motivator, coach, cheerleader and fan, all rolled into one. And that means getting to know yourself well enough to know what works for you and what doesn’t.

One good way to begin working on all these skills is by keeping a certain kind of journal, where you focus on simply observing your own reactions to, and the results you get from, different behaviors and strategies. Another of my articles, The Before-During-After Journal, offers some suggestions on how to go about doing this.
This article is Step 10 in SparkPeople's Mind Over Body series, a 10-step program to ending emotional eating and creating a permanent healthy lifestyle. View the full series here.

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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

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