The Decision To Make A Life Altering Change.

I present an overview of the six stages of change and increasing chances of living a better life to help you see where you are at and where you need to go.

Well, you are here, on the best bodybuilding website, filled with the best advice available. So, why are you here? This is a question we all must ask ourselves, and a question few of my clients have an answer to. Ask anyone who has been successful at weight loss, or weight gain, what made them take "the plunge."


The Defining Moment

Chances are it wasn't just an afterthought, "maybe I'll start on Monday with this whole gym thing." Chances are they don't keep a feelings journal about how they gave in and rewarded themselves with half a gallon of ice cream ... twice.(That makes a whole gallon for those of you who aren't great at math) These successful people probably haven't ordered the "sauna belt" or that newest quick fix weight loss pill. No way!

The majority of these people had a certain defining moment. A moment where they looked themselves in the mirror and said words I can't type because my mom still reads all the articles I write.

It's this defining moment that takes them to a new step in the process of change. It is a bottom of the barrel realization, a back of the jail cell realization. It is the "I don't want to end up like him" moment ... it's a ... well you get the point.

I had a moment like this myself. However, looking back, I realize it was a combination of moments. One of which was stepping on the electronic scale at my grandmother's house one Christmas and seeing the numbers 118 come on the screen. And no, it wasn't in kilograms.

Ryan
Click Image To Enlarge.
For me, it was a combination of moments.


Trans-Theoretical Model

These are all moments that happen when someone is in the "pre-contemplation" stage of change and can send us into the "contemplation" stage of change. This is from one of the most popular change theories to date-developed by two scientists DiClemente and Prochaska-and is known as the trans-theoretical model.

It has been used over and over in lifestyle changes, including smoking cessation campaigns, and diet change models. It involves a 6-step process of change:

  1. Precontemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
  6. Termination

In this article I will present an abbreviated overview of these stages of change. Determining where you stand in the stages of change can help you get to the next stage and hopefully to the final stage of termination, where it becomes part of your life permanently.

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1. Pre-contemplation:

    Pre-contemplation is a stage in which an individual has no intention of change and is unaware of a problem. This may have been you a few weeks, or even a few months ago, chomping down your large bag of chips and dip without a care as to what this lifestyle has done to your health and well being, not to mention self-esteem.


2. Contemplation:

    Contemplation is a stage in which an individual is aware of a problem, but has no set plans of implementing a change. This same person on the couch could have a moment of clarity. It may be an infomercial, or a talk show highlighting people who have been successful in weight loss. Many people in the contemplation stage of change have the feeling of being "stuck." They know there is a problem, but don't know what to do about it.


3. Preparation:

    Preparation - In this stage, an individual is ready to take action soon - i.e: within a month. They may have ordered that "sauna belt - the easy way to melt inches off your waist line," or the running deer machine "not sold in stores, because it's a piece of crap."

    Or, they may have done what you have ... some research, and began searching online for credible help. Many of the people in the preparation stage have tried an action before, only to fall back into the contemplation stage.


4. Action:

    In the action stage individuals take concrete steps toward making the change. These might include eating healthier foods, or going to the gym. Although this is an important step in the stages of change, it is no more important than the others. The catch is, with the right guidance you see concrete results with your actions. In this stage, the actions aren't consistent, but are close.


5. Maintenance:

    Here, you are generally free of the unhealthy previous behaviors. You may have off days, but the new action is now part of your general routine. This maintenance stage follows the action stage and involves the individual engaging regularly in the new healthful behavior.

    Those of you who have lost significant amounts of weight before know this feeling. I compare this feeling to winning the NBA finals and you are the only person on the team. The coach, the players, the manager and the fans. Think hard about that feeling. It's within your grasp, it really is.


6. Termination:

    For many people the maintenance stage can last forever. Smokers and alcoholics who have quit may always be tempted to take a drink again, or have just one puff of a cigarette. But for some, the temptation to relapse does not exist. For me, it is no problem to pass up a piece of cheesecake.

    It's just one of those foods I know is not going to ever give me any benefit other than being somewhat tasty. I know I will workout and exercise for the rest of my life. My previous days of inactivity and poor eating are done. Terminated. Are yours? This truly is a great feeling.


Relapse Is Not Failure

One of the key points of the 'stages of change' theory is its attention to relapse. In this model, relapse is not giving up, but a chance to learn more about what caused the relapse and what you can do different with the next attempt at change.

Thomas Edison:

Edison

    I think a lot about a story I heard about the great inventor Thomas Edison. He had a reputation as a successful inventor even before the light bulb. A news reporter noticed he hadn't come out with anything new in quite some time, and asked what he was working on.

    "I'm making light through electricity so we no longer need to depend on lamps and candles."

    Wow, the reporter thought, what a great invention. "Have you been successful yet?"

    "No, not yet, I've tried over 3,000 ways but none of them work."

    "Doesn't this frustrate you? Why not give up and move on to something else?" He was asked.

    Thomas Edison replied "Well, the way I see it, I'm ahead of the game, because I know 3000 ways that DON'T work. So I'm much closer than anyone else to the way that it does work."

    You may be able to relate to Thomas Edison. When you feel like you have "tried everything" when it comes to weight loss and you're ready to give up. Really, you should be glad, because now you know everything that doesn't work, and are that much closer to what really does work.

    Edison Trivia:
    Influenced by a fad diet that was popular in the day, in his last few years Edison "consumed nothing more than a pint of milk every three hours." He believed this diet would restore his health.

How Did You Get Here?

    Is it a moment of clarity that brought you to this point of being ready to change? Did you look at yourself in the mirror and think; I am going to do something about this today! Or maybe it was this article that brought you to realize, you just need to take that one step to get yourself into the next stage of change, and closer to the ultimate success.

    I'm here to help, because I've been in this situation before, and got out. I took my first personal training class when I was 17. The cut off point for the class was a minimum age of 18. I took it anyway. I wasn't able to get my certificate even if I made perfect marks in the class, but I just wanted to learn.

    I got a 76 in the class, with a cut off passing grade of 80. I had a relapse. But what did I learn? A lot. Since then, I have graduated from a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinesiology from the number one school in Canada, St. Francis Xavier University, and will have finished my second degree, Bachelor's of Science in Human Nutrition, in 2006.

    What brought me here was failure. Trial and error and never giving up. Are you ready to take the next step in you own stage of change?

    Ryan
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Are You Ready?

    Stay tuned for more articles on weight management, bodybuilding, and supplement reviews. Keep training hard ... and remember, it's not a game.