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The Stages of Changing your Physical Activity

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New Year’s is approaching and we’re all ready to leave 2020 behind. You vow to eat healthier and workout regularly. You feel excited and motivated for the new you but a few weeks into the year you may be feeling uninspired. Talking about change is easy but adopting a new lifestyle is very difficult. So how do you know when you’re ready to embrace and new lifestyle and how do you get yourself to maintain it. Well in today’s episode we’re going to be talking about a psychological model that examines your motivation, barriers, and provides strategies you can implement to create change.

The model I alluded to is known as the stages of motivational readiness for change. It was created by two psychologists Prochaska and DiClementen in the 1970s. This model was designed to describe the psychological factors that drive change behavior. Additionally, the model lists the phases people cycle through when changing their habits. The fitness industry adopted this model to understand client behavior so we could create strategies that help clients live healthier and more active lives. The stages of readiness are generally used to introduce physical activity but the same principles and strategies can be applied to nutritional goals. I’ll be sharing the nutritional strategies in the next episode so make sure to hit that subscribe button to be notified.

Now to begin moving forward you must understand the stage of readiness you are in. Stage one is characterized by a lack of desire to introduce change into your life. In our case, you won’t feel a need to exercise. You are aware of the benefits of exercise, but you don’t have a desire to workout in the near future. When you’re in this stage you want to ask yourself,

“What has led me to be inactive?”

Answering this question, allows you to understand why you’re not active and why you don’t have the desire to change. If for example, you have multiple injuries you may not know what exercises are safe. Perhaps your image of working out is at a gym, but you don’t feel comfortable working out in a public space. Or maybe you have surrendered to the belief that you don’t have time to workout so you push it off for later in life. When you’re in stage one you’ll want to focus on understanding your resistance to change.

Stage 2 is characterized by an interest in working out. You feel overwhelmed, scared, and unprepared to take action today but you consider the possibility of starting in the near future. When you’re in this stage you tend to view your future-self as a more confident and motivated version of yourself. In order to bridge the two views of yourself answer these three questions:

“What activities am I able to do?”

“What activities will I want to do?”

“What rewards will keep me motivated and excited?”

When in this stage, the best plan for you is to focus on gathering information. Watch, listen and read about different physical activities available to you. Research about behavior change, exercise, and motivation favorite YouTube workout videos that catch your eye. Search for personal trainers and group classes and ask for their schedule, cost, and availability. For information about my coaching you can visit,

Stage 3 is characterized as taking action. Congratulations! You’ve introduced physical activity into your life. This stage however is a transition between no exercise and the recommended levels. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 20 mixtures of moderate exercise 5 days a week or at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 days a week. In this stage your workouts might look like taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator, washing your car, walking for 20 minutes 3 days a week, or gardening. In order to move on to the next stage, address possible barriers that get in the way of increasing your physical activity. Barriers are situations that excuse you from working out such as believing you don’t have time, not having workout equipment, or getting bored with your routine. Noting perceived barriers will help you brainstorm solutions. If you’re feeling bored with walking, for example, try a new activity. If you feel like you don’t have time to workout try incorporating activity into your regular actions. Do a couple of squats while you wait for your food, bike while you watch Netflix, or park far away from your destination. Baby steps are nonetheless step forwards.

Stage 4i is reaching the recommended levels of physical activity. The challenge for you here is to remain active. The best way to do this is to set up mid-term goals. Mid-term goals are a few weeks to a few months long and focus on actions rather than outcomes. Instead of setting a goal to lose 10 lbs, you set a goal to play tennis 5 days a week for 45 minutes. In order to move on to the next stage, you must maintain consistency.

Stage 5 is the final phase. In this stage you are performing the minimum recommended physical activity for 6 continuous months or longer. When you’re in this stage the key is to build confidence. Confidence that you can get back to this level of consistency when life throws you a curveball. Secondly, you want to remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Often times we’re so focused on what we want to accomplish that we forget to give ourselves credit.

Change is not a switch you flip on and off. Instead, it's like a maze there are many paths you can take, you might take a wrong turn and have to go back, but in the end, there is a path for you to travel. Before you go to bed tonight, sit down and think about what stage you’re in. Give yourself time and space to fully understand where you are then start to make goals. Dream as big as you want but don’t become overwhelmed, Then choose what small steps you’re going to take to get there. Remember it’s a lot easier to take the stairs to the next floor than try to jump there. You can utilize the resources I created to help you figure out your next step. Click the link below to discover. I hope these ideas help you in the upcoming weeks as we countdown to the New Year.

Which stage are you in? [infographic]:

Record of past successes worksheet:

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