There are 5 stages of behavioural change and understanding where you lie on the spectrum can significantly impact how you approach your goals and how successful you are in reaching them. So let’s get right into it!
People in the precontemplation stage are sedentary and not maintaining a healthy diet. They aren’t even considering change because they don’t see activity or healthy eating as relevant in their lives.
If you are in this stage the most important thing is education. Try and motivate yourself by learning about the health benefits of exercise and healthy eating. Do not crash diet or dive right into a crazy exercise regimen.
People in the contemplation stage are still sedentary but are starting to consider physical activity and healthy eating as important and have begun to understand the implications of being unhealthy. However, they are still not ready to commit to change.
If you are in this stage it’s important to continue informing yourself about the health benefits of changing your diet and physical activity levels. In addition, learn about what the gyms around you have to offer, go on tours of recreational facilities, and learn about fun classes you can join. Hype yourself up!
People in the preparation stage are doing some physical activity but sporadically. They may occasionally go for a walk or visit the gym. People in this stage are ready to make the change!
If you are in this stage try a bunch of different activities, find one or two activities you love and do them consistently (not necessarily frequently). Whether it’s dancing twice a week, joining a weekly yoga class, or hiking with friends once a week, make sure you do something you think you will enjoy and don’t over-do it! With regards to eating, change one thing in your diet that you think would have the greatest impact – this could be removing carbonated drinks from your diet or reducing the consumption of bread/rice/pasta to one serving per day. This stage is about developing lasting habits!
People in the action stage are engaged in regular physical activity and healthy eating but have been doing so for less than six months.
If you are in this stage it’s important to try and stay here and prevent relapse. Identifying barriers and increasing social support are important in this stage. Educate yourself and prepare for relapse. Think about previous times you’ve engaged in healthy behaviour and what caused you to relapse, now think of ways you can prevent this from happening again.
People in the maintenance stage are involved in regular physical activity and have been doing so for more than six months.
If you are in this stage try to discover new activities and new healthy foods you love so as not to get bored. Create a reward system for adhering to your new found healthy lifestyle. Stay aware of barriers to success!
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