There are 5 stages of behavioral change and understanding where you lie on the spectrum can significantly impact how you approach your goals and how successful you are in reaching them. So let’s get right into it!

First Stage:

People in the precontemplation stage are sedentary and not maintaining a healthy diet. They aren’t even considering change because they don’t see activity or healthy eating as relevant in their lives.

If you are in this stage the most important thing is education. Try and motivate yourself by learning about the health benefits of exercise and healthy eating. Do not crash diet or dive right into a crazy exercise regimen.

Second Stage:

People in the contemplation stage are still sedentary but are starting to consider physical activity and healthy eating as important and have begun to understand the implications of being unhealthy. However, they are still not ready to commit to change.

If you are in this stage it’s important to continue informing yourself about the health benefits of changing your diet and physical activity levels. In addition, learn about what the gyms around you have to offer, go on tours of recreational facilities, and learn about fun classes you can join. Hype yourself up!

Third Stage:

People in the preparation stage are doing some physical activity but sporadically. They may occasionally go for a walk or visit the gym. People in this stage are ready to make the change!

If you are in this stage try a bunch of different activities, find one or two activities you love and do them consistently (not necessarily frequently). Whether it’s dancing twice a week, joining a weekly yoga class, or hiking with friends once a week, make sure you do something you think you will enjoy and don’t over-do it! With regards to eating, change one thing in your diet that you think would have the greatest impact – this could be removing carbonated drinks from your diet or reducing the consumption of bread/rice/pasta to one serving per day. This stage is about developing lasting habits!

Fourth Stage:

People in the action stage are engaged in regular physical activity and healthy eating but have been doing so for less than six months.

If you are in this stage it’s important to try and stay here and prevent relapse. Identifying barriers and increasing social support are important in this stage. Educate yourself and prepare for relapse. Think about previous times you’ve engaged in healthy behavior and what caused you to relapse, now think of ways you can prevent this from happening again.

Fifth Stage:

People in the maintenance stage are involved in regular physical activity and have been doing so for more than six months.

If you are in this stage try to discover new activities and new healthy foods you love so as not to get bored. Create a reward system for adhering to your new found healthy lifestyle. Stay aware of barriers to success!

Dana Habayeb
Dana Habayeb, MSc, CNC, ACE Certified Personal Trainer Dana Habayeb holds an MS in Public Health and Health Systems and a joint BS in Health Sciences and Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She has conducted quantitative and qualitative research in social psychology, cognitive psychology, and the health sciences. In addition, Dana is an ACE certified personal trainer and certified nutritional consultant from Weill Cornell Medicine. She specializes in teaching clients how to lose fat through proper nutrition and fitness. Her focus is on helping her clients understand the psychology and science behind fat loss so that they can achieve the results they want. Follow her on instagram for inspiration and updates @DanaIsBananas!