In the area of weight loss, the risks and benefits of behavior change is probably one of the most overlooked topics. The assumption that practically all people fall prey to is that, change will bring only benefits. Precluding this assumption is the underlying belief that moving from a position that is not desired to a position that is desired will bring only positive results. In the area of weight loss and fitness, people often do not seek help until they are very desperate for it. In this case, the desperation they feel about getting better, misconstrues their understanding of the process of change. Because they feel as though they must get better, they incorrectly believe that the desired change will make everything better. This avoidance of the understanding of change, and the risks inherent in it, jeopardizes success, in that, it is very poor preparation for actually carrying out the process of change. Additionally, the sense of desperation, and apparent willingness to "do whatever it takes" can often cause people to focus only on the positives and avoid addressing the risks within the process of change. Indeed, avoidance of the risks of change is the same thing as avoidance of the resistance to it. However, people are frequently seeking help for weight loss because they cannot handle these things. Failure, to address the risks of change, and therefore the resistance to it, leaves them poorly prepared for it. Inherent in any change is some resistance, and it would be unrealistic to assume that all people are really ready to change. Therefore, addressing the risks and benefits of the process of change is a very important component of weight loss.
When people address the risks and benefits of weight loss several things occur. Primarily, they feel better prepared for what they will be facing. Feeling better prepared through being educated as to what the process of change entails increases the feeling of safety about it, and decreases feelings of fear about change. In addition to this, acknowledging the risks of change will allow people to hold a more realistic perception of it. This realistic perception will help to ameliorate the possibility that weight loss is expected to solve every aspect of a person's life. Lastly, clearly understanding the process of change, and the potential for risks along with it, will increase the likelihood that a person will embark on future change in her life. So let's look at how to address the risks and benefits of weight loss:
Addressing the risks:
The risks of change represent all of the potential reasons that you may not want to change (i.e. your resistance). These are all of the areas of your life that will be affected by the change you desire, that you may not be prepared for. As these areas of your life are things that you are very familiar with, and bring a sense of comfort and safety to your life, you may be very unwilling to change them. The risk of the change you desire is that, you will have to also change these areas of familiarity as well. What this may mean for you is that you will temporarily feel uncomfortable, and unsure of yourself. In order to address these risks, you should begin by educating yourself as to the process of change. This begins with a general understanding about what change represents. Because every person has a characteristic structure and balance to their life, change in one area will undoubtedly lead to change in another area. This would be true of any change in any area of your life. For example, if you decided to but a puppy, you may have to give up some hours of sleep to feed, clean and walk the puppy. You may also have to give up on some hours of work to return home to walk it, as well as the money that it may cost. In addition to all of these things, the puppy would also impact your family life, and potentially may interrupt time with your friends. When you take on the task of losing weight or getting fit, this change will affect many areas of your life in ways in which you may not be able to predict. Again, you may need to sacrifice some time from your work in order to make time to exercise. You may also need to make changes to your home life, as you will be taking time from this in order to exercise. This change may also affect your relationships, especially if you find that there are some people in your life that do not react positively to it. Once you have a general understanding of the ways in which change could affect your life, you should then educate yourself about the potential impact this may have on you. For a time, you may be uncomfortable in the process of change. This will occur because areas of your life that were comfortable and familiar to you will be changed. This is an expected part of the process of change, and will continue until you find new areas of your life that are comfortable and familiar. In this process, it is imperative that you understand that the risks of change are a normal part of the process, and are temporary.
Addressing the benefits:
The benefits of change represent the ways in which your life will be positively affected by the change. However, the benefits of any change may pervade to other areas of your life, yet this is not a guarantee. While the benefits of any change can be ensured in that specific area of your life, they cannot be ensured to positively affect any other area of your life. In the field of fitness and weight loss, people may incorrectly assume that once they lose weight, everything in their life will be better. For example, they may believe that weight loss will make them more attractive and therefore will lead to the relationships that they want. Again, there is no guarantee that losing weight will improve any other area of your life than your weight. It is a possibility, that weight loss will improve other areas of your life, however, you may also realize that these other areas of your life are also in need of change. Therefore, in addressing the benefits of change, it is important to understand exactly what benefits can be anticipated from the desired changes. For example, by looking at where your weight is now, and how that weight impacts your cardiovascular capacity, blood pressure, body fat percentage, and health ranking among other individuals in your age class, and contrasting this information with where all of these scores will fall once you are at the weight you desire, will help to qualify the benefits of the desired weight loss. In extrapolating and understanding the benefits of your desired weight loss, and understanding that other areas could potentially be improved, you gain a more realistic perception of the process of weight loss.