Fitness & Nutrition Tips

The Scientific Process of Fueling your Fire

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Making a change doesn’t happen in an instant. Successful change, like starting a new routine or quitting a bad habit, takes time and cannot be rushed. A full commitment and understanding of what it will take to make the change is the best predictor of long-term success. In fact, behavioral research has broken down the journey of self change into five distinct stages. Sometimes recognizing where we are on our journey toward big change can help propel us to the next milestone.

Stage 1 Pre-contemplation

People in pre-contemplation aren’t aware that they have a problem or don’t want to make a change. This stage can last indefinitely, and the best way to move forward is simply to become aware of how we can make our lives better.

Are you in this stage? Is there a part of your life you’re not satisfied with? Your health, your body, your energy level or simply how you feel when you get out of bed? What are some habits or routines you could change or develop that might help?

Stage 2 Contemplation

People in contemplation know what they want to change, but either don’t know how or can’t commit to make that change. Someone in a contemplation stage might know she’s not getting enough sleep, but might not recognize that spending time answering work emails right before bed is causing her stress and not letting her fall asleep easily and restfully.

Are you in this stage? What’s not working? If you’re not getting enough sleep, think about what you’re doing right before bed and right after you wake up. How can your morning and evening routines support a more restful and peaceful night’s sleep?

Stage 3 Preparation

People in preparation have made the conscious decision to change and are now focused on finding the right routines or habits to help them get there.  Someone in the preparation stage may want to start quitting smoking and has committed to making the change, but isn’t sure which quitting strategy she wants to try.

Are you in this stage? It’s time to develop a full routine to help you stick to your commitment. The best plans of action are mental, physical and emotional. For a change like quitting smoking, you’ll need to create a mental strategy to get through your favorite smoking times like a morning commute or after meals. You’ll need a physical strategy to deal with nicotine withdrawal, like a nicotine gum or patch. Plus, you’ll need an emotional strategy for when the going gets tough, like a supportive friend who is always on call. The sooner you can get your plans in place, the sooner you can start to make a change.

Stage 4 Action

People in action are in the thick of changing their habits or routines. The action stage takes the greatest amount of time and energy, and is best sustained when they’re fully prepared with well-thought out mental, physical and emotional strategies. Someone in the action stage may be making time in his schedule to work out with a personal trainer and to keep exercising outside of their regular sessions.

Are you in this stage? Keep the change going! Stay committed even in the face of challenges. Don’t be afraid to dip back into the preparation stage and adapt your action plan when something isn’t working.

Stage 5 Maintenance

People in the maintenance have their new habits or routines down and are comfortable keeping to them day-to-day. Someone in maintenance may have cut refined sugars or over-processed foods out of his diet and doesn’t reach for potato chips or sugary sodas at home anymore– but might have a road trip with friends coming up that will be full of car snacks.

Are you in this stage? Awesome! Way to stick with the change through action until it becomes routine. Focus on sticking with your new habits and to recognize the positive outcomes in your life.

Change is often more successful when we go through each stage with the appropriate amount of time, energy or attention. Skipping stages or rushing through stages doesn’t work long-term.

Recognizing the progression from one stage to the next is important, because it’s no small feat. If you’ve recognized what you want to change, congratulations! You’re already on stage 2. If you’re making a plan to start changing your habits, awesome! You’re on stage 3. Don’t wait until you’ve accomplished your goal to start celebrating – recognize your journey!

 

 


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