Stage 5: make it last forever

It was 2014 when I first began my last attempt at losing weight, getting healthier, and not feeling so enslaved to food. I had tried and failed numerous times before over this previous three decades, but this time, it stuck.

Since then, I’ve been hindered by seasons of stress of various kinds — family discord, death of a loved one, hospital stays, retiring one business and starting another — but I haven’t given up on my commitment to stay the course on my new choices.

I don’t say all this to brag, but to point out two things:

  1. Change is possible, even after repeated failures, even after age 50!
  2. This is one of the distinct stages of change, and it requires slightly different tools than the previous stage.

Frequently, we think that once we’ve made diet changes, it should just be the same from then on. However, the researchers have identified two additional changes after the initial action phase, and they call them maintenance and relapse.

I’ve combined these two into one stage I call make it last forever.

I combine them because I think it helps to see relapses of various kinds as a normal part of maintenance. Learning to deal with them is a crucial element of making your lifestyle change last forever, or giving up entirely.

About this stage

What happens in this stage: As the novelty wears off, you need new strategies to help you stay the course. You’ll learn to recognize when you’re vulnerable to veering off course and acquire some tools to avoid it. You’ll also learn how to respond positively if/when you do slip up or relapse.

The tools:

  • Learning how to respond to yourself with grace and encouragement when you struggle or slip up.
  • Recognizing potential trouble spots before you’re in them, and having a strategy to adapt.
  • Assessing what’s working and what isn’t, and adjusting your plan accordingly.
  • Learning how to respond and recover if/when you relapse.


Here are a few resources on this site to get you started:

Articles related to Stage 5


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