I have a story for you today!
As you know, I am a nutrition counselor part-time at the RIT gym. I provide healthy eating and wellness guidelines as a free service for the faculty, staff, and students.
For the past two weeks, I have been meeting with a very challenging client. In order to protect his anonymity, we’ll call him Jonas (I am listening to Weezer right now, ha!).
Jonas is a big guy who came to me with the goal to begin eating healthier – a common concern for many college students.
I began working through my normal procedures, starting with a quick diet history.
Jonas’ intake recall was a little vague, so I began talking about MyPlate and portion sizes.
As we were going through each of the different food groups, I discovered Jonas did not like many foods. It became clear that he was most definitely not eating a varied and healthy diet.
When it came to the goal setting portion of the appointment, Jonas made sure I knew he was not going to be giving up his Friday routine of pizza slices, pizza logs, and pizza poppers after dodge ball. He also mentioned his incredibly high stress levels which left him reaching for junk food frequently. On top of this, Jonas is restricted to eating on campus, and preferred to purchase his foods at the Corner Store (think convenience store), rather than eating in the dining hall.
What’s a poor nutritionist to do?! He doesn’t like fruits (except apples), the only vegetable he will touch is an iceberg lettuce salad, AND he doesn’t care much for meat! Pile this on top of a resistant-to-change attitude and you are in a sticky situation.
Enter Prochaska’s Stages of Change Model.
- Pre-contemplation: “ignorance is bliss”
- Contemplation: “sitting on the fence” (not considering change within the next month)
- Preparation: “testing the waters” (planning to act sometime within a month)
- Action: practicing new behaviors (lasts three to six months)
- Maintenance: committing to new behaviors
- Relapse: “fall from grace” (start over)
I needed to determine where Jonas fit in the Stages of Change Model in order to help him formulate an appropriate goal. Obviously, he is past the Pre-contemplation phase, as he came to me for help. I was thinking he was somewhere in between Contemplation and Preparation.
I gave him a goal. A “test the waters,” small-changes kind of goal. Jonas was to eat an apple a day, write down what he ate, and visit me again in five days. He, of course, resisted, saying that this weekend he had a lot to deal with and that he could not make any changes until Monday. I agreed to his terms (it’s his life, afterall!) and we set up our next meeting.
So yesterday, Jonas shows up an hour late for his appointment (at least he showed!), with his diet history for Monday and Tuesday.
- 1 apple
- 1 loaf of bread
- 1 bag of Combos
- 1 bag of Funyums
- 1 box of Ritz Crackers
- 1 apple
I about had a heart attack. I first congratulated him for getting that apple in, but then layed in to him regarding the rest of his diet. I flat out told him that his diet was poor, and that he was going to make himself sick (and not just nauseous sick, chronic disease kind of sick) if he continue to eat this way. I told him that he could not continue to eat this way. When I asked if he thought that this was a healthy diet, he responded, “Well, I ate an apple!” Absolutely not healthy, if you were confused. I got concerned for a moment because I thought I he might cry, but Jonas needed some tough love in his life. I told him that he has to come and see me every week for the the rest of Spring quarter. We are going to work together on this.
Am I so blind and sheltered in my little nutrition bubble that I haven’t truly seen what a typical American diet is like?
…This really isn’t typical is it?
Next week’s goal: Continue eating an apple a day and substitute his lunch time bag of chips for a sandwich.
Small steps, people.
We ended our session on a good note. Me, being the cheerleader I am, reassured that he. can. do. this. We are going to work hard together and I am going to do my best to help him find his way to a healthier lifestyle.
Any suggestions on how to keep this kid motivated and coming back?
It’s a little bit scary.
Anyways, I’m off for a run then to cooking class!
Keep on, keepin’ on!