What Stage of Change Are You In?
The Stages of Change model has proven very helpful in understanding how ready people are to change and to help create change. This model conceptualizes five common stages of change:
In this stage, you are not thinking much at all about changing. You may not be fully aware of the ways in which your lifestyle is problematic. This is the “in denial” stage. With weight problems, many people end up in the precontemplation stage after many attempts at dieting that didn’t work, leading them to give up.
In this stage, you are seriously considering changing your lifestyle, but you haven’t yet committed to take action.
In this stage, you have decided to change your lifestyle and are getting ready to take action within the next month.
In this stage, you are actively changing your behaviors & lifestyle.
In this stage, you have successfully changed your lifestyle and now you are working to keep up the positive changes and prevent relapse.
What stage are you in right now?
Each stage suggests a different course of action:
If feels nice not to have to worry about changing anything, and of course much of the time if you are content with your life, that’s a good thing! However, there are major long-term consequences to unhealthy lifestyle patterns, and most people regret those patterns once they have to face the consequences.
It’s worth evaluating your lifestyle… are there problem areas? Are you getting exercise most days of the week where your heart rate is up for about 30-60 minutes? Are you consistently eating veggies, whole grains, fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats? Are you at an appropriate weight for your height? Is your waist measurement less than 35 in (for women) or 40 in (for men)? Do you have energy throughout the day? Are you getting a consistent 8-9 hours of sleep per night? Is your blood pressure & cholesterol within healthy limits? If you answer no to some of these questions, it’s time to do some hard thinking about how you want to live your life and what you want your health to be like in the future. This can be scary and make you feel anxious, sad, angry, or other negative emotions. It’s best to let yourself feel these feelings (a big part of this stage is not thinking about problems because you want to avoid these negative feelings). It can help to talk to a trusted friend or a health professional who can help you consider everything (but not someone who is telling you that you have to change!).
A big issue with weight problems is that a lot of folks have tried many times to lose weight and either failed or gained it back. This can result in giving up. Some positive news is that every time in the past you tried you learned something, even if you didn’t realize it. Past attempts can actually make you more likely to be successful the next time. In addition, Habitspark Diet Foundations is designed to help you make gradual but consistent progress, and you really can succeed no matter what is going on in your life.
You think changing is a good idea, but it is hard to get started. It can be helpful to write out pros and cons for your current lifestyle and pros and cons for lifestyle changes. There are real reasons why you aren’t quite ready to change yet.
One common reason is that change is hard. It takes a lot of effort to get yourself out and exercising, plan meals, and find different ways to cope with stress. This is especially the case when your life is already overwhelming, too busy, and super stressful. If this is the case for you, is there anything that you can (for now) give up? One of the great benefits of a healthier lifestyle is that everything in your life will become easier to deal with. You’ll think more clearly, have more energy to deal with life’s responsibilities, and feel better about yourself. However, the change process itself is still stressful & require time & effort. A positive of Habitspark Diet Foundations is that you can go at your own pace. For some people, this might mean going pretty slow and taking especially small steps. However, if you can even get started with the small steps you will be moving in the right direction and can be very proud of yourself for that.
Another common reason is that you enjoy your current behaviors. It is fun to go out and stuff yourself on greasy, delicious foods. It’s nice to go home and just stretch out in front of the TV rather than cook a healthy meal. It feels great staying in bed an extra hour rather than getting up to go exercise. It is really normal to feel this way. It helps to realize that you don’t have to give these things up 100%, but in order to have a healthy lifestyle, the truth is that you’ll need to replace some unhealthy habits with healthy habits most of the time. An important step is to face what that means, the bad feelings you have when giving something up (can be sadness, anger, fear, etc), realize you can handle the bad feelings, and ask yourself what is the reward for this change?
A final common reason is that you don’t feel like you can succeed. As described in the precontemplation section, this is really common with weight problems. However, you really can change! Change happens when you make smart, gradual changes and don’t give up on yourself when you stumble a bit. Habitspark Diet Foundations is designed to help you do just that.
You are ready to begin changing, but you haven’t quite begun yet. Now is a great time to get a support system in place. Tell supportive people in your life what you are planning to do, and how they can help (and what won’t be helpful). Consider joining a support group in your area, such as Weight Watchers, TOPS, or Overeaters Anonymous. Many people benefit greatly from seeing a counselor or therapist. If you can afford it, look for a personal trainer and/or nutritionist. Workout & healthy cooking buddies are free! There are many support resources available on line. Habitspark.com forums is a great place to start!
It’s also a good time to envision & plan for barriers & difficulties you’re likely to experience along the way. How will you find extra time in your day? What happens if you get sick or injured? What if big & important projects come up at school or work? How will your kids deal with changes in your lifestyle? Change is hard, and you are more likely to be successful if you are prepared to deal with problems that come up along the way.
You’re doing it! Great job. Any action at all is in the right direction.However, check out the recommendations ofr the Precontemplation and Contemplation stages. It could be helpful to follow some of the recommendations if you haven’t already done those things.
Congratulations on your success! This is a great stage to be in, but it can be challenging as well. It was easy to feel great about all the changes you were making in the action stage when you were getting positive results. In the maintenance stage, you are no longer seeing so many new positive results, and you may be likely to focus more on negative feelings and discouragement when you slip up (which everybody does!). Work to notice the positive and remind yourself how much you’ve accomplished. Seek out new goals that you can feel positive about achieving. If you do slip up, remember that you are human and that’s part of the deal. Slip will happen, what matters is how you deal with them. Be kind to yourself. It’s worth noting that most successful changers go back and forth between stages a few times. You may be in the maintenance stage, have a set back, start back at contemplation, then go to action, then go to maintenance again. That is okay. Don’t give up on yourself.
This article is part of preparation for the Habitspark Diet Foundations free 12-week program.