Which Stage of Change Are You In?

Can you identify which stage of change you are in? Can you hold space for yourself with grace and compassion as you work to change your behavior, thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes? Can you be kind to others as they work the change process in their own lives?

Pre-contemplation – I am not thinking about changing at all, I see no problems, and I do not need to change anything right now.

Contemplation – something needs to shift, I might not know exactly what or how to make it happen but I know I need to do something. 

Preparation – I know what needs to change and I know what I need to do to get things started. I am seeking support and the items I need to be successful in my new change (i.e. getting the gym membership and new shoes, buying the right foods for my meal plan, finding a 12-step sponsor)

Action – I’m working on taking the steps that need to change. I am in the grind of changing my life for the better. I am focused on the daily steps to make my goal come true. 

Maintenance  – I’m doing it! I have changed my behavior, perspective, and my life. Now it is about sticking to my goals and keeping my eye on the prize for the long term. 

Sometimes relapse back to our old behaviors and attitudes happens. Work to get back on track as quickly as possible. It is not in never having a relapse but in how quickly we return to our more healthy focus that we want to measure our success. How quick do we recognize, stop the old behavior or thoughts, and return to the path of our goal? That’s the true measure of success for us. 

Overall, remember that change is hard. It can be challenging and moment to moment changes on the path. Your goal is to keep your eye on the prize!

Need more? Read Monday’s article on 3 steps to making change happen in your life here.

Photo credit: Social Work Tech

Easy Pesto

Ever wonder would could be an easy option to spice up a lot of different foods? Try Pesto. Here’s a quick and easy recipe that took me, seriously, about 5 minutes to make.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Garlic – peeled
  • Nuts – if you want them, pine nuts are the usual, but you could use walnuts or pecans instead.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

The Cooking Part …

I just made this the other night – it was quick, easy and great for days. I like a lot of garlic and we did not use any nuts in our pesto blend.

First, peel the garlic cloves. I put about 3-4 in my blend. Put in a food processor or blender and chop. Then pull the basil leaves off the stems, add to the food processor and begin to blend on low. While blending add some olive oil to the processor. Add just enough oil so that it blends well, but is still chunky. I add salt and pepper to taste. Done. Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week or so.

What to serve with …

I added mine this week to spaghetti  squash for a fantastic side dish. We eat it on crackers, cucumbers, with tomatoes and cheese, eggs. The options are endless if you like basil and garlic 🙂

Working with Ambivalence … the parts of you that want to change & the parts that don’t.

Ever wonder why it is so hard to make big changes … or even small ones for that matter? It is often because we have what is known as ambivalence. This concept that part of us wants to change and part of us does not. We have a small war going on inside ourselves between the factions of staying the same and playing it safe and the part of us that wants something new and different … aka not as safe. Below are 3 ways to work with your own ambivalence and get those changes to take hold for good.

As you consider what you would like to change in your life, pay attention to what you do not like, what you want to be different, allow yourself time to reflect and feel into the changes, then take informed and inspired action. Read on to work on finding the next right step for you.

Stage 1:

When we consider making changes it is important to think about what we do not like, however not dwell here. This stage is just about getting clear about what we do want. This stages sets the scene for us to find what we do want by examining what we do not want. When we are in this stage we often do not feel comfortable, we may feel like we are the victim, that we are on the wrong path, or just bored and tired of the same ol’ same old thing. This stage is an opportunity to decide. It is the point that we begin to see what is not working. 

It is here that we might find it is time to stop drinking/using substances or other unhealthy coping skill because we feel so awful after a night or two of our use. It is here that we might feel uncomfortable thinking, talking, acting like our “old” self because we have new knowledge, insight, or awareness. It is here that we realize that working out was giving us more than just weight loss because we missed the emotional high by missing our movement practice this morning. 

This video explains how to work with ambivalence using the Trans-theoretical Model of Change and stages of change.

Action point for this stage – Get clear on what you do not like. Reflect on why you do not like it – not to judge and keep yourself down, but to objectively determine what is not working for you. You might see that your behavior is not the kind of person you want to be any more. I see this a lot with people who used to use racist or sexist jokes without realizing the impact. Now they know the impact and do not want to be that kind of person any more, but are working to figure out how to engage people with different humor. From this point of knowing what we do not want we can begin to decide what we do want. 

Stage 2:

Now that you have a clear picture about what you do not want any longer, it is time to vision what you do want. This is a very important stage. It is here that you actually make things happen. So many people want to brush past this stage in effort of action, because action feels better, yet action too quickly can create more work in the end. In this stage spend some time developing what you do want. 

As you get clear on what you do not want – usually does not take us too long to do – we want to get very clear on what we do want. Why do we want to quit using substances? What is the benefit of a new eating plan? Why behave differently? As you vision your new life options, it is important to feel how you will feel when you get the new life you want. In this stage, do not worry about how you will get it. Just feel how good it will feel when you are successful. Drink in the sweet feelings of your goals, successes, and dreams. 

Many people feel this is so whoo – whoo, but here is what is behind it. Science. We are chemical (hormones / neurotransmitters), electrical (heart rate, facia, brain, neuron communications) , vibrational beings (atoms and molecular structure). Every thought, emotion, and action we have creates a change in those 3 things. As those changes take place – yes through your thinking and feeling and eventually doing – you are changing the way your cells communicate with each other. Our cells use proteins to adapt to the environment around us and are always changing. As these proteins shift and change we have a different experience. Experiences change our brain structures and impact other physical structures like organs, tissues, and internal communication patterns. These changes create our internal environment. This can be helpful and supportive or hostile and forbidding. 

For example as you consider a stressful event your inflammation rate rises, your breathing may shift into more upper lobe exposure, less deep breathing, and your heart rate will then quicken. This change in what is known as your heart rate variability (HRV) is tied to your nervous system. 

As your HRV quickens, your sympathetic nervous system revs up, getting ready for a fight, to flee, or go into hypo arousal and keep you alive. All this, just while you think about that fight with your partner, that near miss car accident, the trauma you lived through as a kid, or your big work project. These thoughts are impacting how your body responds. This is not just about the way you think. It is also about the way you feel, as your emotions and actions also create changes in the physical body. It does not matter where you enter the square, everything is always impacting everything. We are holistic systems, not linear cause and effect systems. 

Overlapping Psychological and Locomotor Development
This is a model of the holistic nature of our experiences I created for a presentation I gave on the overlapping nature of our psychological and physical systems.

Whether is psychological or physical they impact each other. It does not matter where we start the process – in our minds or in our bodies – we cannot pull apart the intersecting experience. The heart rate variability is the link between the mental and physical world. we can control it to change our perception of our experiences. (Reuille-Dupont, 2018)

Now that you have a better understanding of why thinking and feeling matter to the physical structure of you, it is time to make action happen. 

Action Step for This Stage: Create a vision board, write a story about the new you/life/dream as though it has already happened, and mediate, mediate, mediate. Mediation shifts our brain waves and allows us to be more receptive to solutions and next steps we need to take. We have to let go of our own thinking and doing around the change before we can get really clear about what we need to do next. Mediation clears that space for us in as little as 5, 10, 15 minutes a day. Do not skip this activity. Read more on the importance of reflective time and accomplishing goals.

Stage 3:

Hopefully, you have spent some time sitting with what you do not like, then working on what you do want. Now it is time to act. It is important to take INFORMED action. This is something I see go sideways in lots of folks, myself included – they get antsy for action and impulsively move instead of be deliberate about the next steps. This means they often miss the most simple option and skip around … leading to longer accomplishment timing. 

Ambivalence in change is uncomfortable. It is hard to sit with. There is a part of you so sure of the changes you want to make, yet there is also a part of you so scared about the changes you are about to make. There is part of you that can see clearly how much better the new way will be, and there is a part of you sad to let the old way go. As we honor both of those spaces we want to make sure we allow both to be true. This helps settle our discomfort. Once we can process our struggle we are often ready for action.

For example, the change may be quit using substances, yet your culture is full of people using your substance of choice. It may not be easy to leave them all behind today or even completely quit your substance today (sometimes this is even dangerous), but it might be doable to find a 12-step group, reach out to a sober friend, see your therapist or get one, get to the hospital, or buy a book/find an online community to help you stick to your goal of being sober (or more sober) today. We are just looking for the next step right now. Once that one is taken, we can take the next one, and the next, and next until you have multiple days, months, years sober from that substance. 

Stage 3 Action Step: Since you have already set up so much and gotten so ready by creating a vision for your future self, feeling your success and accomplishment as though it has already happened, and mediated to get clear about what you next step needs to be … just take that step. Just the next one to be most effective. It does not have be big, does not have to accomplish the end goal completely yet, you are in process, and it does not have to be overwhelming. It just has to be the next right step for this moment. The one we are in, not the one you wish you were in, want to be in, or would rather be in. Just the one you are really in. Informed action makes each moment easier and they build upon each other, little by little, like building blocks building the tower … one at a time, step by step. 

Focus on What Works

Today focus on what you want and ignore all those things you do not want.

Do not waste your energy focused on what is not working.

Note the problem, create a solution, and move in the direction you want to go. Do not look back. What is done, is done. Just move forward.

BOSU Brillance

Many of us can get bored with our home workouts. One way to spice up any workout and create muscle confusion is to add balance work. Using a simple piece of equipment the standard exercises become challenging on a whole new level. Try this BOSU workout today.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

New! Fitbit Inspire HR

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

The Workout

This workout focuses on using a BOSU ball. This creates extra challenge for the core of the body and builds proprioception. In unstable surface workouts, we lower weight and speed to focus on form and function while adding the challenge of stability. Using the BOSU you can choose to use the ball side up – easier modification or ball side down/flat side up – advanced modification.

If you do not have one, think about making the surface you are connecting with unstable. A pillow, blanket, air pad, etc can help create the sense of balance. However, make sure is not something that will hurt you – i.e. get tangled in the blanket and fall over or twist an ankle on a surface that is too unstable. Test it out and go slow.

Overload the movements using Dumbbells, medicine balls, rubber tubing, or just use body weight. Start lower than you think you’ll need and increase weight / equipment as needed. Remember as you become more tired, balance becomes more difficult. You may need to increase weight and then decrease before the end of the set. Perfectly fine, just make sure you are continuing to challenge yourself.

Complete each set 2 x through, move through the next set 2x, etc.

Kbands

If you would like create a pyramid workout. Once you have finished all sets with increasing weight each set – you may choose to go through another round this time with just body weight to finish off proprioception training. Or go the opposite. Start with no weight, and increase each set. Note of caution on this option: the more tired you are the more difficult lifting extra weight becomes and balance becomes more difficult.

Set 1

  • Squats
  • Bent Over High Rows
  • Push Up – kneeling or full body with hands on the BOSU

Set 2

  • Stationary Lunge – Rt foot on top of BOSU
  • Bent Over Left Arm Low Row – right foot still on BOSU
  • Chest Flys – lay with scapula on the BOSU – modify with butt on the floor or up level by keeping hips off the floor and shoulders to hips in flat line (would look like you could balance a cup of water on your navel)

Set 3

  • Cherry Pickers – Left leg
  • Bent Over Right Arm Low Row – left foot still on BOSU
  • Cherry Picker – Right Leg
  • Bent Reverse Flys – both feet on BOSU

Set 4

  • Curtsy Lunge – Right Leg, up level by not allowing left foot to touch, keep it floating throughout the movement.
  • Lateral Shoulder Raise
  • Curtsy Lunge – Left Leg, up level by not allowing right foot to touch, keep it floating throughout the movement.
  • Bicep Curl

Set 5

  • Figure Four Squat Right Leg
  • Tricep Overhead Press
  • Figure Four Squat Left Leg

Set 6

  • Russian Twists – butt on the floor, low back supported by BOSU or uplevel by placing butt on the BOSU
  • 30 Second Full Body Plank Hold – hands on BOSU
  • Full Sit ups – butt on floor or up level with butt on BOSU
  • 30 Second Full Body Plank Hold – Feet on BOSU
  • Supermans – belly on BOSU, feet and arms can touch the floor or up level by floating them throughout the movement.

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!

Yesterday is done … Keep your sights on today.

So many get hung up on what happened yesterday, last month, last year, 10,20,50 years ago. They spend their energy focused on what went wrong. Instead focus on what is going right. Focus on on what you want. Spend your time creating a life you love, want, and desire instead of focusing on what is not working in your life, with people around you, or in the world. Spend your energy wisely.

Crush Your Goals!

How are you doing with your vision board and your goal outlines? Did you do it on Monday? If not, why not? What got in your way? How could you work around those obstacles? Are you feeling like you need more help? Then reach out. Make sure you are not swirling in the same stew over an over. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to change and finding yourself stuck at the same place over and over because you are not sure how to move forward, do not have clarity about what you really want, or do not have the support you need to make your dreams come true.

Make sure to ask for help when you need it.

Quick Fried Lemon Tilapia

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Whole lemon – 1 per fillet
  • Tilapia fillets – enough for each person eating. 1 serving is typically 3 oz

The Cooking Part …

Add olive oil to your pan and heat. When the oil is hot, add your tilapia fillets. Cut lemon in half, and squeeze half over the fillet. Sprinkle some salt and pepper, not too much here. Fry on one side for about 5 minutes. Then flip. It should not take long, but use a fork to make sure the fish is cooked through and flaky. Flip as needed to keep the sides browning but not burning. 

What to serve with …

Kale salad with grape tomatoes and rice like I did last week, or serve with any kind of rice or salad you like. I also like my fish with veggies like broccoli, green beans, or potatoes. Enjoy!

Accomplish Your Goals … Start a Morning Routine

Many of us want our lives to be different and we aren’t sure how to start. We want to shift our perspective, focus, and behavior but get locked into the same ole same old routine. Try finding a morning routine that helps you schedule 10-30 minutes in your morning to reflect on your goals, vision board, and upcoming day. During this time, view your vision board, allow yourself to feel what successful accomplishment of your goals would feel like, and review your day’s plan to reach those goals.