Planting seeds for health

Posted by James
Category: + education

As the weather seasons begin to change, so too can our motivation levels towards health and exercise!

Practicing as a Mindfulness facilitator and Accredited Exercise Physiologist my mission is to improve the health functioning of a child or adult through exercise and mindfulness therapy, and to do this successfully a behaviour approach is required. Understanding the components of health gives greater importance to why the person is participating in exercise therapy and lifestyle change.

When discussing making a positive life-style change (such as exercise) we talk about motivation. Motivation can be described as the purpose or reason ‘why’ we want to achieve a goal. Often if we understand the ‘why’ of human behaviour we harness that emotion and turn it into motion!

Motivation fluctuates just like the weather. Sometimes understanding how we can create strategies that do not rely upon motivate alone is useful when the dark clouds threaten to derail our attempts to make a positive change.

I would like to explain the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change with the analogy of planting a seed and using myself as the case study! This model suggests we tend to change our behaviour in stages and it takes time and relapse can occur. By becoming aware of this process it can help us understand why and how we can make positive changes and possibly understand our fluctuating motivation levels.

Pre-contemplation stage: The seed has not been planted, yet. I am not aware of my health habits and what impact it is having on health. I am eating poorly and not exercising but I am just too busy.

Contemplation stage: The seed has been planted. Awareness begins, the belt buckle becomes tighter, it is harder to put on my shoes and I find it harder to keep up with the kids when playing outside. Just like any seed, germination takes time.

Preparation stage: Enough is enough, I say! It is time to get fit, watch what I eat and lose some weight!

A plan has been formulated to water and nourish the seed!  I have a target and a map of how to reach it. It is time to start weeding.

Action stage: The seed sprouts and a plant breaks through! I can see the fruits of my effort.  Real changes have been made and momentum is building. It is not yet harvest time but the seed is now a plant and looking good. This stage lasts 30 days. I am motivated by the momentum and starting to feel better.

Maintenance stage: 6 months on and we keep on, keeping on! The crop is looking good but it is important I keep weeding, watering and adequately feeding. I am feeling fitter and have more energy. I think it may be time to plant some new seeds. It is time to set new health goals.

Relapse stage: I have made significant changes to my lifestyle, but old habits can be like those persistent weeds in the garden. Weeding requires attention and action to give those positive seeds and plants the best chance of success.  This stage can happen at any time and again requires awareness and effort to start again on the journey of cultivating health!

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