When I was taking psychology classes in college, I came across the Trans-theoretical Model Stages of Change. I then came across it again when I was at one of my first jobs as a consultant for a well known diet company.
Upon coming up on it so often I feel the need to share what this model is and how we can use it in our own way as we pursue a healthy life style. There are five stages that I will be addressing and showing you how to use it to your advantage.
The stages are Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Action, Maintenance, and Relapse. These stages are on a continuum, meaning that you can slide back and forth between all the stages not one stage is finite. The more aware you are of this, the more successful you will be in using them to reach and attain your goal.
*The first stage is Pre-contemplation. In this stage, maybe you have driven by a gym, or walked through the fitness section at the store and thought, I should workout or begin getting fit. Nothing comes of it really, its more of a passing thought as you walk through the aisle or drive pass the gym. So you say, how is this an advantageous stage? Well, to me, this thought would not have passed through your mind if it was something you had not considered before. There must be some insecurity, or underlying feeling that you have disregarded in the path. To me, this knowledge is power! Take that thought and give it good hard thought. Maybe do some research into what kinds of fitness trends are out there and which ones peak your interest.
By taking this first step, you are moving yourself, at your own pace into the Contemplation stage.
*Contemplation, so you have done your research and found a class or video or gym you want to try. Once you have signed up for the class or bought the video, you have officially entered this next phase. Don’t fret, you have nothing to fear, you still have control over the situation. After you have taken this step, its important to congratulate yourself because this step puts you one step closer to your goal.
The first day of the class you signed up for starts today! You are a bit anxious and that is to be expected. Timidly you walk into the studio and set yourself up. Sixty minutes later, you are sweating, laughing, and having a great time, you LOVE it! You continue to take the class and then sign up for another round.
Congratulations you are now in the Action Stage in the Stages of Change Model.
* The Action Stage is described as a time when a person is consistently active and taking part in physical activity on a regular basis over the course of six months. Maybe you begin to try other things and explore other realms of fitness, or maybe you stick with the program you chose, its completely up to you. Congratulations are also in order at this stage as well because of everything you accomplished. You were nervous and timid, but you over came your worries and found something you enjoy doing! That’s GREAT!
*Maintenance, its been a year and you have consistently kept up with your schedule of going to class and staying active. In the maintenance stage, you don’t really think about going to class it’s just habit, you always have clothes in the car for after work, and you rarely ever miss a class unless its urgent. You are seeing the changes in your body but more importantly you are intrinsically motivated because going to class makes you feel good and you enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after finishing each class. During this stage you may have made some new friends who are also into the class and you find that meeting with them is a great way to relieve stress and have some quality fun time away from work. Having friends that you can associate with who understand the importance of exercise is also a nice motivator that keeps you going even after a tough day at the office.
Wait! You are not in the clear yet. Just when everything was going just as you like, someone or something throws a monkey wrench in your routine. Not that I am trying to be a Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer, but lets face it, life happens and we get derailed sometimes.
*This derailing is called the Relapse Stage and our tendency to let our new found habits go to the wayside in order to handle whatever situation or circumstance is standing between us and getting our workouts in.
Let’s take for example the fitness class that we were talking about earlier. Let’s presume that the studio we were going to decided to move to a location that was not convenient for us. Now all of a sudden that trip to the class on the way home from work just went from a 5 minute commute to 25 minutes going in the opposite direction of home. All of a sudden we find ourselves driving straight home after work and relaxing in front of the TV with a box of cheese crackers for an afternoon snack. As you reach in for another cracker your hand touches the bottom of the box…its empty!Really? Did I just polish that off, you think to yourself?
Wow, I must have been hungry! A week passes then two and you start to feel sluggish, your pants are a bit tighter than usual and your scale has crept up a few lbs. This is your chance, right here, for redemption. This is your opportunity to look at this situation as a temporary relapse in your new routine. With positive resolve you decide to jump back into looking for a new fitness regiment.
Maybe you will be back at Pre-contemplation or Contemplation while you search for something that you think will suit you.
Or maybe, you will jump right into the action stage giving a new class at the local parks and recreation center located near your house a try.
As long as you look at a relapse as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, you will not be destined to fall back into your old habits of inactivity.
As you can see from walking through all the phases of this Trans-theoretical Model it truly is a continuum. It is a continuum that you dictate. You may slide from one stage to another or jump full force into the action stage. You have the power to stay put and never put your sneakers on or pop in that video or stop in for a fitness class. At the same time you also have the power to take the bull by the horns so to speak and get moving. The choice is yours. Use these stages to your advantage and gain some knowledge on the type of person you are and what moves you to move! If you use the information you gather about yourself to your advantage, you will find success! Let this model be a guide on your journey to health and fitness.
Written By Julie S.