Health

STAGES FOR ADOPTING HEALTHY BEHAVIOR– 3, 4, 5

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Stage 3: Preparation. These folks are primed and motivated. They are ready to give exercise a try. The goal of this stage is to create a specific action plan that takes all factors into account, so that the “launch” is successful. People at this stage need to know how much they should be exercising, their target heart rate, and the types of exercises. They should explore the different kinds of exercises and decide which ones to try.

At this stage, people will evaluate exercise machines and health plans, if that interests them, pick the proper clothing or accessories, and consult a doctor if necessary. They also need to think about how they are going to fit their exercise plans into their daily and weekly schedule.

If you are at this stage, you should also consider some backup plans — what to do if it rains, or if you don’t feel like exercising. That way you are prepared to overcome that hurdle when you encounter it. You should be aware of what to expect realistically at the beginning — for example, be aware that weight loss takes time, but health benefits begin immediately.

Stage 4: Action! People at this stage have just started exercising. This stage is where the biggest behavior change occurs — these people have started to exercise but it is not yet a long-term, ingrained habit. This stage requires significant commitment and energy.

If you are at this stage, keep talking to friends and family for inspiration. Review your backup plans. Reward yourself for small achievements. Give yourself notes and reminders to exercise. Having a friend to exercise with can be very helpful as you get through this stage. You want to build and maintain momentum, because exercising gets easier once it is a habit!

Stage 5: Maintenance. The people at this stage have been exercising for at least 6 months. At this point, exercising has started to become a habit. The goal here is to prevent relapse. If you are at this stage, identify ways that you can fine-tune your program. Continue to identify roadblocks and improve your backup plans. Think about what you have found most enjoyable about exercising.

What benefits have you gained? Keep reminding yourself of these perks. If giving yourself a challenge was part of your initial motivation, set new goals and find new challenges. If you risk getting bored with your routine, find ways to vary it. Or maybe you have found a comfortable routine that you enjoy — if it’s working, great! There is no need to change it. You might want to read or learn more about your method of exercising, and develop a deeper level of understanding about it. Soon you’ll be a pro!

One point about this theory is that people do not proceed from one stage to another in a simple, step-by-step fashion. They actually cycle or spiral back and forth, so that they may move from stage 1 to 2 to 3, and then back to 2 again. They may stay in maintenance mode for years and then fall back to stage 2. Remember that this is normal — if you tried exercising in the past and didn’t stick with it, don’t consider yourself a failure. Just know that it’s time to try again!

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