Evaluating your progress is an important part of the change process. In this third instalment of the Implementing Change series of blogposts (see part 1 & part 2), we want to know how you’re doing with your behaviour change goals.

Time for Self-Reflection

It’s been a few months since the start of the year, which means it’s time for a check-in. To truly gage your progress, try some self-monitoring. This health skill involves monitoring and recording your behaviour. To add another layer, you can also monitor the outcome of your behaviour. For example, let’s say your behaviour change goal was to start walking daily, with the ultimate goals of meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines and to lower your blood pressure.

Your self-monitoring could include keeping an activity journal for the week and recording how many minutes of walking you’re actually doing (the answer could surprise you!). At the end of the week you could pop into your local pharmacy and measure your blood pressure, also recorded in your journal. Another option is to track your physical activity using Carrot Steps. Doing this once every few weeks can be motivating as it helps us set realistic expectations and build self-confidence when we see progress.

So, What’s Your Truth?

After a bit of self-monitoring, it’s time for reflection. Are you still doing the healthy behaviour you set out to do? Have you made lasting change?

I’m on track!

First of all, congratulations. Change is hard and you’re likely moving from the action stage to the maintenance stage of behaviour change. Now is the time to re-evaluate your goals. You may be ready to push yourself harder or to try and change a new behaviour. Adding variety and new challenges will keep your motivation going.

I’m off track!

Have you “fallen off the wagon?” Relapse is so common, so don’t beat yourself up. Remember that you are trying to change, and this is a great step in the right direction. Pick up where you left off and keep going!

Re-visit the health skills we’ve discussed in Part 1 and Part 2 of the Implementing Change blogposts to help get you back on track. Look at why you wanted to change and how you’ve written your goals. Remember that goals should be realistic, so you may need to scale down your expectations. Using the health skill Graded Tasks from Part 2 can help with making achievable change. Action planning can give you ideas on how to plan for success.

Common Reasons for Relapse and Potential Solutions

Did you forget? Try prompts or cues. A prompt would signal you to do the desired behaviour, at the time or place you would perform the behaviour. Here’s some examples:

  • Setting a reminder on your phone to pick up fruit and vegetables on your way home from work so you can cook a healthy meal
  • Leaving your walking clothes next to your bed so you remember to go straight for a walk when you wake up instead of jumping in the shower first
  • Setting a timer on your phone or computer to remind you to stand up every 30 minutes when you’re seated at your desk

Did you lose interest? It might be time to try a different activity. You may be bored of your current walking route or healthy lunch menu. Try a new place, a new activity, or a new recipe.

Did you lose motivation? Try some social support to boost motivation. Have a friend join you in your behaviour change quest! For instance, set a healthy eating goal with a co-worker. If you’re both doing it, it may be easier to skip the chocolate cake or donuts someone brought into the office and stick to your healthy snacks instead. Take a cooking class together to get new ideas and have fun.

 

Check out some useful tips on how to pick yourself back up from ParticipACTION. We would love to hear how you’re doing – share your progress, tips, and challenges in the comment section below.

Leila Dale

Author Leila Dale

Leila Dale, PhD, is an expert in physical activity behaviour change and mobile health. She continues to conduct research through the School of Kinesiology at UBC and is a consultant for the World Health Organization. Aside from work, she is a mom of two and loves to run around with them outdoors.

More posts by Leila Dale

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