Let me clarify: I am not pleased I have gained weight, but I am pleased that I can state this fact and not think that it somehow makes me less of a human being. I had a phenomenal summer, but it lead to a shift in my behaviours towards less healthful ones. In my life, good times typically means a lot of social occasions, with a lot of food exposure (rarely healthy) and decreased opportunities for physical activity. I ate a bit more than usual and exercised less—but, damn, I had some good times!
Oh well, it happened, I’ve gained weight. There is nothing I can do about that fact right now. All I can do now is forcefully zip up my now-tight jeans and reclaim control over my behaviours. Starting……..now!
I am also happy to say I have gained weight because I feel that I have many of the tools I need to change my behaviour and take control of my health and weight again. It also now gives me more of a chance to share as many of these as I can with you as you follow me on this journey and progress through your own.
To begin, two tools of essential importance for behaviour change are an internal locus of control and self-efficacy. Having an internal locus of control (as opposed to an external one) means that I know that I, not some external force, am in control of my actions. I have control over improving my diet, eating a bit less and more healthfully at every meal. I have control over my daily exercise, and I have to find activities I enjoy and that challenge me. If you think that some external force, be it money, time or genetics is completely in control of your weight-related behaviours, you are simply incorrect. While they can influence your behaviours, the capacity to change them, even just a little bit, is still in your possession. Everyone’s capacity for change is different, but we all typically have a strong level of control over our daily behaviours.
Having an internal locus of control is also essential for another psychological predictor of behaviour change: self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to accomplish a certain goal. I personally know that I can encorporate more physical activity into my day, and I know that I can eat less. The latter of the two is more difficult for me, but I know that my overeating is typically psychologically driven and I can work to manage this. To accomplish this, I will have to spend some time in my head reprogramming my thoughts towards more healthful ones. I am by no means saying this is a simple task; it often takes time and a lot of self talk. It is, nonetheless, doable—And I CAN do it. Ya, self-efficacy!
The human body has an amazing ability to adapt and change towards what you ask of it, the human brain is no exception. Your brain currently has a certain thought/behaviour pattern, but constant reinforcement can direct it towards the change you desire. We all have the physical ability to increase our physical activity levels and improve our nutritional habits, but what is stopping us isn’t so easy to describe and it is often psychological. You have to find out what’s stopping you and convince yourself (because it is true) that you can overcome it. BUT, if you don’t think you can succeed or that you are not in control of your actions, then you have already committed yourself to failure.
Change doesn’t happen over night. It happens with time, commitment, and perseverance. The simple fact of the matter, however, is that when it comes to behaviour, we ALL have the ability to change. PERIOD.
You never know what you are capable of until you take control of your actions and commit yourself to an attainable (and maybe even scary) goal. I would have never thought that ‘obese Diana’ could change her behaviour, but I surprised myself before, and I will do it again. Now, it’s your turn…….