Are You Genuinely Ready to Change Your Lifestyle?
Assess your Readiness for Change
In 1982, Dr. James Prochaska (a psychologist) and Dr. Carlos DiClemente published the Transtheoretical Model of Change – popularly known as the Stages of Change. (1)
The Transtheoretical Model focuses on the decision-making of the individual and is a model of intentional change.
It operates on the assumption that people do not change behaviours quickly and decisively.
Rather, change in behaviour, especially habitual behaviour, occurs continuously through a cyclical process and people typically move back and forth between the stages at their own individual rate.
The model suggests that individuals can move from a place of not wanting to change at all (Precontemplation), to considering and learning about change (Contemplation), then preparing for change (Preparation), adopting new changes (Action), and finally being able to maintain those positive changes over time (Maintenance).
It’s important for you to identify where you are in the stages of change because for each stage, different intervention strategies are required to most effectively move you to the next stage of change and subsequently through the model to maintenance, the ideal stage of behaviour.
Let’s consider what each stage may look like in respect to weight management.
|Stage of Change||Behavioural Features||Respect to Weight Management|
|Pre – Contemplation||In this stage, people do not intend to take action in the foreseeable future (defined as within the next six months). People are often unaware that their behaviour is problematic or produces negative consequences. People in this stage often underestimate the pros of changing behaviour and place too much emphasis on the cons of changing behaviour.||At this stage you do not consider the need for change. You either do not see yourself as overweight or you do not see a need to change your weight.|
|Contemplation||In this stage, people are intending to start the healthy behaviour in the foreseeable future (defined as within the next six months). People recognize that their behaviour may be problematic, and a more thoughtful and practical consideration of the pros and cons of changing the behaviour takes place, with equal emphasis placed on both. Even with this recognition, people may still feel ambivalent toward changing their behaviour||At this stage you start to consider whether you need to make a change. You don’t take any action but the need for change is beginning to be recognised.|
|Preparation||In this stage, people are ready to take action within the next thirty days. People start to take small steps toward the behaviour change, and they believe changing their behaviour can lead to a healthier life.||At this stage you intend to make changes in the immediate future. Generally, you have taken significant action already. This may be to make an appointment to see a doctor or to join a gym.|
|Action||In this stage, people have recently changed their behaviour (defined as within the last six months) and intend to keep moving forward with that behaviour change. People may exhibit this by modifying their problem behaviour or acquiring new healthy behaviours||At this stage you have made changes to your lifestyle in order to facilitate the change. In terms of weight management, you are well into a weight management plan.|
|Maintenance||In this stage, people have sustained their behaviour change for a while (defined as more than six months) and intend to maintain the behaviour change going forward. People in this stage work to prevent relapse to earlier stages.||At this stage you have made changes and are now working to prevent relapses. This is the ideal state in weight management as you’re no longer looking to lose weight, just maintain a healthy weight.|
There are two other stages that should be added and are often experienced as part of a complete behavioural change cycle:
Relapse: occurs when old behaviours infiltrate the new habits maintained in the last phase, maintenance. Relapse or recurrence of an unhealthy behaviour is considered a normal experience since most people cycle through the different stages many times before reaching stable change. In weight management it means you have returned to old habits and put on weight again.
Reinstatement: At this stage you are back on track with your behavioural change and moving towards maintenance again.
Now that you understand the stages of change, think about what stage you might be in? Are you ready to make lifestyle changes? Do you need help to guide you through the stages of change to reach maintenance?
My Health Priority is here to guide and support you through the different stages of change by giving you the tools and strategies you need to achieve your ideal state in weight management – Maintenance. I also recognise relapse happens and is part of a complete behavioural change cycle, which is why I offer monthly consultations for up to 2 years following your 12-week program.
(1) Prochaska JO, DiClemente CC. Transtheoretical therapy: Toward a more integrative model of change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. 1982; 19:3, 276-288.