Despite determined prevention efforts and an increase in our knowledge about how to build successful health behavior change skills, the increased incidence and prevalence of obesity has continued. The traditional approach of modifying diet and increasing exercise is often not holistic enough for many to sustain new diet/exercise behaviors when external motivators are removed. The key to long term actions and behavioral maintenance starts in patients’ perceptions about their own ability to change and existing decision making skills. These perceptions and skills can be largely influenced by the clinician. Often clinicians can make the mistake of thinking that people already have the mental skills and thought processes to stick with new behaviors, but in reality without actively working towards developing specific mental skills and a hardy mindset, change will be difficult to maintain. This review focuses on how to help patients or clients develop the mental skills for lasting health behavior change through understanding their choices and by providing guidelines on how to build self-efficacy toward behavior changes. Building routines, positive self-talk, affirmations, and expression of empathy among clinicians are discussed along with the research on the efficacy of positive motivation techniques such as mindfulness and motivational interviewing (MI).
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