Nowadays, we hear from all sides that we need to be active. Whether it’s for our health, our well-being or just for fun, we definitely need to get moving. There is only one small problem, no one has the same life path. If you tell a former marathon runner or a young single mother to be more active, they will probably not have the same reaction.
What if you’re not convinced that you can make physical activity part of your lifestyle? Then we need to do this lifestyle change one step at a time. In this article, I will help you get through this journey so that you can move forward at your own pace.
Stages of Change
To do this, I will talk about the different stages of behavior change. This model was developed by psychologists James O. Prochaska and Carlos C. Di Climente for smoking cessation and was then applied to physical activity.
The concept of the behavior change process is based on 5 different stages:
- Indifference (pre-contemplation)
- Reflection (Contemplation)
- Planning (Preparation)
Let’s look at them together to see how we can progress and move from one stage to another!
Let’s start with indifference. If you are in this stage of behavior, you have no intention of changing. You are not active and have no plans to become active. Don’t worry dear reader you are probably not in this category otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this! If you are indeed in this stage, you need to increase your awareness of your current situation. Take a closer look at your quality of life. Is your health good? You need to change your beliefs about your lifestyle habits and see the impact that some of your choices can have on those around you or on yourself.
Reflection or contemplation involves an intention to change. If you fall into this category, it means that you are currently inactive but you know the benefits of physical activity and are thinking about becoming active. Congratulations! At this stage, you have probably already realized that some of your lifestyle habits have an impact on your life and the lives of others. What you need now is to identify solutions. A bad habit has a negative impact on one aspect of your day, how can you change it? Ask yourself the question, what could be different for me and those around me if this problem was addressed? I bet the answer will be positive.
In these last two stages, your desire to be active is still undefined. You need to do more research on the benefits of physical activity, look at your current habits, and make a list of pros and cons of becoming active. In order to convince yourself that a change is important, you need to see the benefits as greater than the drawbacks, otherwise, it’s not worth it. Ask yourself why you need to be active. We’ve all at one time or another imagined what our lives would be like 10 years from now. Take that picture of yourself and look at what’s missing from the portrait to match it! In short, become the person you dreamed of being!
Planning or preparation is for people who do not meet the physical activity recommendations but have already made small changes or plan to make small changes in the very near future (30 days). You may find it easier to achieve your goals with a start date by making your decision more concrete. You can also make use of the resources available in your community, determine your goals, develop an action plan and commit fully to its implementation.
Action is the phase in which someone is regularly physically active. In addition to using resources to prevent a relapse, make sure you maintain the support of those around you. It is much more difficult to persevere when you are not supported. Explain to them the importance of your change in lifestyle and how important it is for you to have their support in this process.
The maintenance phase represents people who have been active for more than 6 months. It is important to mention that there is a relapse phenomenon included in the model in the maintenance phase. Of course, it can happen that people stop exercising for a while, but the important thing is simply to start the process over and be active again. Constructing a relapse plan allows you to know what to do in case of momentary relapse in order to succeed in getting back on track. Look at the obstacles that could make you give up and find solutions to them, so when the problem arises, you will be ready to face it and know what actions to take.
If you are in these stages, you are planning, executing, or pursuing the best way for you to be active. Great initiative! It is obvious that there will be some obstacles along the way. Finding solutions to overcome them in advance is a good approach to take. Your sense of commitment to physical activity is greater than in the previous stages and you will need to start substituting lifestyle habits, replacing negative habits with positive ones. Also, try to change your perception of physical activity. Rather than seeing it as a chore, think of it as your alone-time. During this stage, you will need the support of those around you, ask them to help you in your efforts and remember to reward yourself when you reach your goals.
To achieve your goal, no matter what stage you are in, there are two key points to keep in mind: self-esteem and satisfaction.
When we talk about self-esteem, we explain that if you plan to make a change that you don’t think you can make, it is lost in advance. It is human nature to want to do everything too fast. First of all, give yourself some simple goals: run a 5k before a marathon.
Choose SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic within a certain time. If your goals follow this principle, it will be easier for you to achieve them. For example, run (S) a 5K (M) in 2 months (T). Taking into consideration that for this person this goal is realistic and attainable. Your confidence will improve and you will experience greater success with progressive goals.
The notion of pleasure is quite simple, if you don’t like this activity, you are unlikely to repeat it. Of course, physical activity has many health benefits, but if the way you have found to reach your goals gets on your nerves, you will most likely stop. Find a way to be active that is fun for you and you’ll be eager to do it.
So are you ready to be active? You’re the best judge of whether you’re ready to be active or not. However, I will give you just one more piece of advice before you start your journey. You will achieve your goals if it is an interesting challenge that you can achieve. This is the rule of 5: competence, challenge, control, choice and commitment. If you have all of these then nothing can stop you from achieving your goal.
I hope this article has given you a lot of insight into where you are and what you can do to continue on your journey. If at the end of this article you come to the conclusion that you are not ready to be active, don’t worry, you can always read this text again in a few months!