Like so many January’s past, this year started with an explosion of new faces at the local gym. The “newbies”, as we tend to call them, rarely last longer than four weeks. We keep our fingers crossed that we will see one or two of them beyond that time frame but more than likely we will not.
It can be challenging to modify your behavior. It involves replacing old habits with new ones. It takes longer than four weeks. It isn’t easy.
There are no secrets. It’s not a magic pill, a 10 minute super human workout, a secret superfood, starvation, or prayers to your favorite health guru that create change.
It’s simply finding and regularly implementing exercise you love and eating healthy. Altering your lifestyle requires the ability to let go of a set of ideology that has been reinforced over several years, being a little selfish, and persistence.
I didn’t make lasting changes until I reached my mid-forties. Like so many others, I tried numerous times to alter my lifestyle only to fall back on my old habits. Everybody fails. One of the traits of successful people is the ability to see failure as an opportunity for change.
Aspiring to do it all won’t work. Some things have got to give when you spend a little more time on yourself than what you are accustomed to. In the long run though, everyone benefits when you become healthier.
So why are some more successful than others in their ability to make lasting transformations? There are common behavior patterns that are shared by those who really want to make changes. These changes occur in stages that transpire over time and which requires persistence and consistency.
One of the methods personal trainers use to determine their client’s motivational level is through the use of the Transtheoretical model (stages of change model). This model can be used for exercise, diet, alcohol, smoking or any health related behavioral changes.
There are six stages of change in this model:
Stage one – Pre-Contemplation – In this stage people do not intend to make changes. They are not ready and are often unaware that their behavior needs changing. They place a lot of negativity on the idea of changing, make excuses and engage in avoidance behaviors(change the subject).
Stage two – Contemplation – In this stage people consider making changes. They weigh the pros and cons fairly and are aware of the benefits of change. People still feel hesitant and do not carry out their intentions for change.
Stage Three – Preparation – In this stage people are ready to make change(within 30 days) and begin by taking small steps. They believe in the benefits of change and may begin purchasing items (healthy food, gym equipment/membership) that contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Stage four – Action- In this stage people are actively changing their behavior. In this stage, the first 6 weeks to 6 months is the most difficult time and it is where most people begin to drop out. The intent is to keep moving forward as old behaviors begin to give way to new ones.
Stage five – Maintenance- In this stage, long-term sustained changes of behavior have been accomplished (over 6 months). The intention is to move forward to prevent a relapse into earlier stages.
Stage six – Termination – This stage is not often discussed and when I first learned about this model of behavior it wasn’t even mentioned. In this stage people have no intention of going back to their unhealthy behaviors and are positive they will not regress to their old habits. This stage is difficult to reach but not impossible.
If you are looking to embark on practicing self-care, evaluate your stage. Pay close attention to stage four as this is where most people begin to revert to old behaviors.
Begin by setting small goals. Perhaps your goal is to make it through one day with clearly defined specific behavioral changes. Next, expand that objective to one week. Further progress to two weeks, then one month. Before long you will accomplish positive behavioral changes through the six-week point. Pat yourself on the back, the changes are beginning to take hold. It won’t be long before six months arrives and you will be on your way to a healthier body, mind and soul.
What stage are you in? Please leave a comment…