It’s been awhile since I have talked about the Stages of Change so I thought it might be a good time to bring it up again, I’ll share why I am thinking about them in a minute.  The Stages of Change was a theory developed by two gentlemen named Prochaska and DiClemente.  They recognized a similar human behavior pattern that we follow when making changes in our life.  I find this theory a very handy way to help my patients identify where they are at with their decisions to get healthier.  Sometimes when we make these decisions or feel they are made for us by circumstances it takes a bit to get motivated and to do them.  We feel ambivalence about it our choices and have some difficulty moving one direction or another.  The progression through it is explained by this theory.

We all start off in precontemplation, in other words we really have no awareness that a change may need to happen, think denial.  We are so happily in denial perhaps that we see only what we want to and rarely does it involve making a change.  In many of those years being overweight I was in precontemplation or denial that there was an issue.

Then something occurs in our life and we end up moving into contemplation about change.  All to often this is when a medical issue pops up when you are talking about changes that will impact our health or physical well being.  Among the reasons I started to change and take my health seriously was a physical health concern, not mine, but my mother’s. 

Once we make a decision that we are at least going to attempt change then we enter the planning stage.  This is a pretty straight forward concept here.  I want to change and I am not sure how to so I start asking around to figure out 1) how others have done it 2) what resources I have or what I still need 3) how to know if it is working.  I talked to friends, I went on line, I gathered as much info as I possibly could and I continue to do so.  I decided my goal weight and from there developed a plan of how much to eat and how much to exercise to accomplish it. 

The next step is to put it into action, again this is a pretty straight forward concept.  I have a plan and a goal and I start practicing or doing the things I need to in order to accomplish them.  After several months perhaps (there really is no set time here) I move into maintenance.  I say that there is no set time, because our motivation and reasons to change can really impact how quickly we move from action to maintenance.  If I am very highly motivated and find something I truly enjoy enough I will get to that stage more quickly. 

Here is the important part of this theory, I can go back and forth as needed depending on my success.  Let’s say I have a bad day or week or heck a month of exercise/eating, I can always regroup and get back into the planning stage.  I take a look at where I went off track, get some help if needed, plan again, and get back at it.  The biggest part of determining whether I accomplish my goal that I set out to change is whether I am willing to keep fighting and am not willing to give up.  If I give up I can never go back to precontemplation, the idea of change will always be there.  If I don’t change I have to live with it; for me, knowing that I was able to make this change and to get healthier means I can never go back I wouldn’t be able to live with it.  I may slip or have a bad day, but I will never be able to give up all together. 

So the reason this has been bopping through my head is that after making it through the mileage for a half marathon yesterday my contemplation of a full marathon has been going full force.  Admittedly I am pretty wiped out today and have been taking it fairly easy (read lazy).  I haven’t felt like doing much at all and did just a minimal amount on the treadmill today.  All the same, the bug has bitten me and I am thinking about it.  I know that although I feel rough today, if I keep up with it my body will adapt.  It had to adapt to be able to do the miles I did yesterday.  It wasn’t that long ago that doing 6 or 7 miles killed me.  So I keep thinking that the more I work at it, if I gather a training plan again I just might be able to get my body used to 26.2 miles. 

What changes are you considering in life?  Which stage are you at?  If you have run a marathon how did you get your body used to doing it?


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Suzanne
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 14:34:55

    Thanks for sharing this, I can how your perspective would be so useful for dealing with the challenges of weight loss/maintenance (or ANY situation). You said your "patients" – what type of health care provider are you?


  2. Jenn Speer
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 23:34:38

    I am a health educator that works mostly with a behavior modification program. I do other education as well. I work for a health insurance company trying to help people get healthier either to address issues they already have or to head off health issues.


  3. Mary C. Weaver, CSCS
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 13:51:01

    Ah, the good old stages of change! I love that model, and it works so well for health behaviors. And as you suggest, it's dynamic. We all want to stay in maintenance, but no matter what happens, we can never return to pre-contemplation.


  4. Pamela
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 19:58:44

    Stage of change – easy to remembers sometimes hard to understand that they aren't perfectly linear. I tell people all the time it's okay to go forward and back a bit. πŸ™‚


  5. Shira
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 21:28:16

    First of all, I'm excited that your training run gave you the desire to do even more – you are going to rock that upcoming race! Also, since I too associated ch ch changes with David Bowie, its good to know there is scientific theory associated with all of this too. πŸ™‚ To answer your question, the change I'm currently working on is undertaking the education to become a certified life coach. Started in May and am entering intense intermediate sessions starting in October. I think it goes hand-in-hand with my PR/branding practice and interest in wellness and am excited about it!


  6. Toni @ Running, Loving, Living
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 20:50:35

    My life is constantly changing!! I like the stages!! I have run many 1/2 marathons and am planning on running first marathon next year-NYC. I think you could definitely train for a marathon!


  7. Jenn Speer
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 02:17:14

    I'm glad you got my reference I was afraid no one would! Being a certified life coach is awesome, I am so happy to hear when people find their calling and passion all rolled up into one!


  8. Jenn Speer
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 02:18:36

    Wow you are going for the big time good luck and I can't wait to see your post on it after it happens! I am trying to pick out a training schedule right now, I will probably stick with Hal again. Then it's trying to figure out which race!


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