Jan 29, 2019

Interview Transcript

Interviewer: Getting your New Year's resolutions back on track. That's next on The Scope.

Announcer: Health information from expects, supported by research. From University of Utah Health, this is TheScopeRadio.com.

Interviewer: Nick Galli is a health coach and an assistant professor of Health Promotion and Education in the Department of Health at University of Utah. All right. So we're at the point in the month of January where maybe that New Year's resolution that you set on the 1st of January, you're not quite doing so well right now, you're starting to go back to old habits. What can you do to get that back on track?

Nick: Well, I think it's a very common situation, and I think folks need to realize that there are going to be some speed bumps along the way to achieving their resolution. In my world, and our world of health-promotion, there is a particular theory that we do use to address lapses or relapses, we call them. It's actually called the relapse prevention model, and it was originally designed to help explain the behavior of addicts who would lapse and relapse, and now we've begun applying it across different health behaviors.

So really, the crux of the model is that these, what we call high-risk situations, so maybe a stressful day at work, or a vacation out of your environment, or that you can't control what's going into your body or your exercise. These things will pop up, and what's important is that you have a plan, that you have a strategy.

You can't plan for everything, but usually we have a pretty good idea of the obstacles that could come up. Have a plan for those, because if you don't, your confidence to handle such situations will be lower. When your confidence is low, you are not likely to respond well to these situations.

If and when you do have a lapse, you will experience what the theory calls an abstinence violation effect, which is just a fancy way of saying you get into this all-or-nothing mentality, where, "Hey, either I'm all on-board with my diet or I'm going to go back completely to eating junk food and greasy food all day." But it doesn't have to be that way.

Interviewer: In a couple of little setbacks, you don't have to quit, that's what that essentially says.

Nick: Exactly.

Interviewer: Yeah. So for example, if you were planning a vacation, what would that look like? Like, "I've been really good for the past three weeks, and now next week my family and I are going to go to Disneyland, and I want to keep my eating and exercise on track."

Nick: I mean, my first thought, and everybody's different, if I was speaking to that person, would be, "Really? Is that what you want to do?" Because it's a vacation, it's Disneyland. One of the fun things about vacation is you do things a little bit different. You don't have to stick to your plan. So no, I don't want the person to completely throw caution to the wind, but I probably want them, for that time when they're on their vacation, to loosen their standards a little bit. By being okay with that they're much less likely to fall into crisis mode, even when they do slip up.

Interviewer: Yeah. If somebody does fall into crisis mode, what does that look like?

Nick: That's sort of the abstinence violation where it's . . .

Interviewer: You beat yourself up a lot.

Nick: You beat yourself up, and then you just give up and say, "Well, I can't do this. I'm no good at this so I'm just going to forget it entirely." When, in reality, you're human, you're fallible, you will make mistakes, but these health choices you make are almost always controllable and something that you can master with different strategies and your own efforts.

Interviewer: At the end of the day, it's about a long-term plan anyway, right? So you can't be 100% all the time.

Nick: Nope, nope. It wouldn't be fun that way, anyways. Sometimes you learn a lot by failing, and getting back up on the horse and taking another run at it.

Interviewer: So look at those as challenges to overcome, not reasons to quit.

Nick: Exactly.

Announcer: Have a question about a medical procedure? Want to learn more about a health condition? With over 2,000 interviews with our physicians and specialists, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find what you want to know. Check it out at TheScopeRadio.com.

updated: January 29, 2019
originally published: January 25, 2017

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