What Stage of Change Are You In?

Author: Shannon Miller

Preparing for change

Most change does not just happen overnight.  There’s a gradual progression of events that leads up to the ultimate desired change.

Getting healthy, for example, whether it be working out, eating right, or both – may be a change that you want to make, but perhaps you’re stuck.  So it’s important at that point to find out where you’re stuck and how to get un-stuck!

Check out the 4 stages of change below, figure out which one most describes your situation and what you’ll need to do to make it to the next stage!

Contemplation Stage (“Hmm … maybe I’ll get healthy.”) – People in this stage are thinking about change and trying to muster up the motivation to make a move (no pun intended!).

If you’re in this stage… make a pro and con list for engaging in physical activity and making healthy eating choices.  Do your pro’s outweigh your con’s?  This could be just what it takes to move you into the next stage…

Preparation Stage (“I’ll plan to workout in the mornings before work.”) People in this stage become planners and figure out what they can do to make change more than just a thought.

If you’re in this stage…decide how you will make time (i.e. When will you work out?) and set small goals (i.e. I’ll work 10 minutes of physical activity into my day).  

Action Stage(“I’m becoming healthy by working out weekly and cooking healthy meals!”) People in this stage have begun to act on the changes that they wanted to make…their goals are in motion!

If you’re in this stage… 1. Track your progress by keeping an activity and or food journal; this serves as a great means of motivation and accountability! 2. Be diligent about overcoming barriers.  For example, if you know that you’re prone to mindlessly eating junk food while watching television, make a cup of hot tea to sip on while watching the tube.  3. Reward yourself for sticking to your change (i.e. new workout clothes, hot bubble bath, etc.).

Maintenance Stage – (“I feel so good about the changes that I’ve made over the past several months!”) People in this stage are used to their change and have kept it up for more than 6 months.

If you’re in this stage… 1. Add variety in order to stay motivated.  For example, throw some different activities into your workout routine or seek out new healthy recipes.  2. Plan for setbacks.  What will you do for exercise if the weather is not favorable?  How will you eat healthy when traveling or dining out?  3. Challenge yourself by expanding your goals.  If you’ve been walking 30 minutes/day, bump it up to 45.  If you’ve successfully cut down on the amount of fat in your diet, try cutting down on sugars next.

TIP:  So, where do you fall?  What will you do this week to get closer to making that change happen?  

Source: “Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health.”,  Weight-control Information Network: An information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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