Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Self Regulation

Professor and Psychologist, Albert Bandura is credited with identifying one of the most used theories to explain and  predict behavior.  It was once known as Social Learning Theory - as its roots are in how people learn or adapt new behaviors, but it is now called Social Cognitive Theory - perhaps to capture the thinking part that goes into our learning.
There are nine or more concepts in his theory and they fall under five categories.  One of the concepts is self regulation and within it are six steps.  I am going to tell you what they are and you can see if you are using any of them.  
The reasons you might use self regulation include: to limit sitting, increase physical activity, moderate alcohol or sugar or saturated fat intake.... etc.

Here they are:
self monitoring -  a systematic way of watching what you are doing, like keeping a food diary or log
goal setting -  seems self explanatory but remember that goals have to be measurable, doable, quantifiable  and time sensitive (I will walk 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week, starting 2-11-2012 and I will review my progress every Sunday and also once a month)
feedback - perhaps a friend or wellness coach will tell you how it seems you are doing (this is because you have specifically asked them for their input which is different then someone just pointing out your failures!)
self reward - please don't let that be food (note - binging one day a week is NOT okay if you limit the other days, that has been scientifically falsified!)
self-instruction - harder to explain, but it is rather like talking yourself through something - maybe reading a label and thinking about the amount of salt or sodium that is in the package and then thinking about how much salt you should have in a day.
social support - let people know what you are doing and maybe they will be encouraging (for instance, they won't suggest going out for drinks when it is your time to go to the gym - or they will tell you how much sat fat is in the dish they brought to the party, etc)

There are many webpages and resources that discuss this theory in its entirety, but I am afraid I might inadvertently send you to a bad website, so instead, here is a link to a reputable document that contains an overview of many theories of behavior  - not just those at the individual, interpersonal level.  The monograph is a product of the National Cancer Institute.  SCT is discussed in part 2, but there is a table of contents so you can go directly to it if you like.

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