The 6 Stages of Change
When we want to change a part of our behaviour, for example eating better or returning to the practice of a physical activity, we go through several psychological stages. Knowing these stages can help you progress and reach your objectives, and this is why I invite you to discover them:
1. Pre-contemplation: You are not aware of your bad eating habits and the effect they have on your health and well-being. You might need more information or confidence, be afraid of the consequences, or you simply attribute no importance to your problem.
Example: You deny the fact that your bad eating habits are the cause of your recent weight gain. You keep eating very fat and very sweet foods and you do not make nutrition a priority in your life.
2. Contemplation: You acknowledge the fact that you have a problem and you know that it would be important to change some of your habits, but you are still hesitating to take action. You weigh the pros and cons.
Example: You want to lose weight to feel good about yourself and increase your self-confidence. You know that a nutritionist will motivate you and help you choose the right foods, but you are still hesitating to invest the necessary time and energy to change your nutrition.
3. Preparation: That’s it, you’ve made your decision! You are preparing for change, gathering information and advice.
Example: You are motivated to eat better and lose weight. You ask about the different rates and nutrition programs offered at your Nautilus Plus center.
4. Action: You don’t only have the intention of changing a habit, you are actually doing it! In a weight loss process, support from both the trainer and the nutritionist is important at this stage, because they will guide you in your choices and will help you stay motivated.
Example: Following the advice of your nutritionist, you eat balanced meals and snacks. Your nutritionist helps you make the right choices and keeps you motivated. The extra support is a tremendous help.
5. Maintenance: You have been keeping your new habit for 6 months or more. Congratulations! You face the difficulties that arise and it gives you confidence in your abilities.
Example: Preparing nutritive meals has been a part of your routine for over 6 months. You know how to be reasonable when eating with friends or partying. Also, your old pants are now way too loose and this motivates you to keep going!
6. Relapse: Yes, you read correctly! Relapse can be part of the normal process of change. At this stage, you start picking up bad habits and return either to stage 1 (pre-contemplation), or stage 2 (contemplation). Relapse is not necessarily definitive: it can simply be looked upon as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes!
Example: During two weeks, you don’t feel like preparing healthy meals. You eat fast-food a few times, and during a movie night, you eat a whole bag of chips. You realize that work-related stress has probably contributed to your relapse. On the following week, you come back in the game more motivated than ever.
Do you recognise yourself in any of these definitions? If so, which stage are you at?
By Vanessa Martin