Human beings are a complex species and when it comes to weight loss, health and lifestyle change the process can be more involved than we are consciously aware. It may feel like you wake up one day and decide to over haul your diet, stop smoking or take up a new exercise regime but there is in fact a journey we take to reaching this point. This journey is described in literature as the Stages of Change Model.
There are five different stages in the Stages of Change Model and you may spend an inordinate amount of time at each stage. You may move forward and backwards through stages over depending on the size of the challenge faced, life events and other twists and turns in the course of modern life. You may also ‘relapse’ at least once, not a failure but in fact an opportunity for reflection and opportunity to become stronger in resolve to change.
The five stages of change are;
At this stage not a lot of thought has been given to making a change, you may be defensive about making a change and don’t see any issue to the current behaviour. To you the positives far outweigh any negative consequences of the current behaviour.
Contemplation is when you may begin to consider the possibility of making a change to your current behaviour but are uncertain about making the commitment. You are still enjoying your current habits but are beginning to experience some adverse side effects, for example excessive weight gain, lack of fitness or compounding health issues.
At this point you are gearing up to bite the bullet. Usually you will have attempted to change in the past 12 months and the ‘cons’ of continuing your current behaviour far outweigh the ‘pros’. You believe change is necessary and imminent but you may struggle to take the next step from this stage to action change. This is often the point at which you may seek help from a dietitian, a friend or other support network.
Now you are actively modifying your behaviour and taking steps toward significant change. It’s not without some ambivalence; you may try a number of different strategies and may lapse to a previous stage.
The final stage of change is the successful and sustainable implementation of new habits and lifestyle for your health and nutrition. There may be the occasional slip up but you are armed with the insight to know when temptations are high and situations that will challenge you.
So what does this mean for you attempting to change your diet, health or lifestyle in 2016? It provides insight into the journey involved, it empowers you with the knowledge of what it takes to make long term, and sustainable change and helps encourage persistence in the process. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance or help and trust in the process. There is nothing wrong with taking steps backward as long as you reflect and learn from the experience and apply those learning’s to move forward stronger and more determined next time. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day!