Have you ever felt yourself starting over … again? I have written about this in the past – but the reality of it hit me yesterday – 5 months before my 45 birthday. 45 …. Where did the time go? And why am I here again? My fitness is average, but I am used to being above average. Plus – I am a personal trainer. I strive to help my clients be at their best and I have neglected myself. So – #thisis45! My new campaign to ensure that I am the best person I can be on May 6 and beyond!
Just wishing and planning for it, unfortunately, does not work. It takes some action – some little consistent action – every day to reach and then maintain my goal. I will be changing my behaviors and that isn’t always easy or direct.
The psychology that underlies the changing of behaviors is complex. Two researchers named Prochaska and DiClemente developed a way of describing it they called the Stages of Change Model. Though originally developed in the context of smoking cessation, it’s five stages actually describe the process by which all behaviors change.
Precontemplation. In this stage, we’ve either literally never thought about needing to change a particular behavior or we’ve never thought about it seriously. Often we receive ideas about things we might need to change from others—family, friends, doctors—but react negatively by reflex. After all, we’re usually quite happy with our current stable of habits (if we weren’t, we wouldn’t have them in the first place). However, if we can find our way to react more openly to these messages, we might find some value in them. I am WAY beyond this stage – but I obviously spent quite a bit of time here. If you are here – that is ok …. But I am here to give you a little, positive nudge.
Contemplation. Here we’ve begun to actively think about the need to change a behavior, to fully wrap our minds around the idea. This stage can last anywhere from a moment—to an entire lifetime. What exactly causes us to move from this stage to the next is always, in my view, the change of an idea (“exercise is important”) into a deeply held belief (“I need to exercise”). What exactly causes this change, however, is different for everyone and largely unpredictable. What we think will produce this change isn’t often what does. For example, it may not be the high cholesterol that gets the overweight woman to begin exercising but rather his inability to keep up with her granddaughter when she comes to visit. It is about finding your reason. Something you REALLY want. Something that you can come back to when things get tough to motivate you.
Determination. In this stage, we begin preparing ourselves mentally and often physically for action. The couch potato may join a gym. We schedule start days. This is where I often get stuck. I like to plan. I like to see exercise plans and meal plans. They look so pretty – so perfect – so right. However – we must move beyond the determination – we must ACT!
Action. And then we start. We wake up and take a power walk. Or go to the gym. We starting to move our body and put good thing in and ENJOY!
Maintenance. This is the continuing of action. The continuing of moving our body, putting good things in and enjoying! Action always seems like the hardest – but we need to make sure we plan for the Maintenance. This is when the newness wears off and the strategies we used to initiate the change are not as equally as effective in helping us continue the change. It is hard to maintain a new habit – if, for example, our mood is low, the will to behave differently seems to disappear and we go back to eating more and exercising less. However, when you’re feeling good, getting yourself to exercise, for example, is easier because the belief that you should exercise remains powerfully stirred up and therefore motivating. The key, then, to maintaining new behaviors…is to be happy! And – again which is why I love what I do! It’s all about being happy!!!
So – what will be your (or what currently is) your deeply held belief about creating life fitness? Where are you stuck? Or have you already mastered this and are living a life of happiness? I would love to hear from you! I am on this journey
In the meantime – move your body, put good things in and ENJOY!