The Transtheoretical Model and Personal Change


Looking at our past to determine why we behave the way we do is critically important to making change in our life. When counseling individuals, I found it most beneficial to review this, but then move on to the present and future.

You’ve likely heard this before (or maybe even personally experienced it): “An alcoholic won’t make change until they are ready to do so”. This holds true for many things in life; including incorporating exercise and healthy eating into our lives.

The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) consists of 5 stages of change that occur. I would love for you to read what these stages consist of and apply them to your personal life. Choose one piece of yourself would like to improve upon, such as emotional eating or a consistent exercise routine, and determine where you feel you fall on the TTM. Keep in mind that we fluctuate through life and move into different stages depending on what we are currently experiencing. So just because I consider myself in the maintenance stage for exercise, I fall back into the action stage occasionally when I just get in a funk and don’t feel like working out.

Stage One: Precontemplation (not ready)

Clearly since you are a member of My1FitLife, you do not fit into this category. Someone who is in this stage does not feel a need for change nor do they plan to make change in the foreseeable future. This does not mean that they are not aware of the benefits of change, however. For example, if someone smokes, they know that it is unhealthy and that there are many potential repercussions of smoking; but in stage one they do not hold a desire to quit smoking.

You may have a loved one in your life who is in this stage when it comes to healthy eating. You may be ready to make these changes, but your significant other may not be. It can be a struggle and cause arguments in relationships. Being aware that your loved one is not ready to make this change can help you understand that hopefully, at some point, they will move into stage 2.

Stage Two: Contemplation (getting ready)

In this stage, individuals start to see the benefits of change and begin to consider changing a behavior (typically within 6 months). They likely are not ready to sign up for My1FitLife, for example, but are starting to see that they need to add exercise and healthy eating into their life.

Stage Three: Preparation (ready)

At this stage, the individual has decided they are ready to sign up for My1FitLife. They are likely excited about change and have started researching what they need to make this change occur. If you have a friend who has decided to sign up for the next challenge or if your loved one who was not ready for change is now saying he/she would like to start eating healthy with you and they plan to join you on your healthy quest within the next month, then they are in the preparation stage.

Stage Four: Action

Many of you may be in this stage currently. You have joined My1FitLife, you have been incorporating exercise and/or healthy eating into your life for some time (around 1-6 months) and are implementing action.

During this stage, you have to work hard to continue to implement behavioral change. I see many in this stage on the Facebook pages. They will have weeks where they do really well only to have a few steps backward and then forward again. I always say it: This is life!! This is what it is about.

Let’s be clear that just because you’re in this stage for exercise, for example, you may not be in it for healthy eating. You may still be in stage 3 for that step, or maybe even stage 2 or 1. Just because you’re signing up for a healthy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean you are incorporating everything we are telling you to do. This is where those baby steps are so important. To look at all the behaviors you want to change and decide which stage of the TTM you are in can help you determine if you’re really ready for that change.

Stage 5: Maintenance

In this stage you may not have to work as hard to keep up the behavioral change. My mom quit smoking over 30 years ago and has not had a cigarette since, she says she doesn’t even crave them anymore. She is clearly in the maintenance stage. An alcoholic may stay away from alcohol after treatment for several months, or even years, and be in the maintenance stage and then have a relapse and need to start over again.

The magic number (according to research and statistics on the TTM) is 5 years to stay in the maintenance stage. So for those of you who become frustrated with yourself when you miss weeks of workouts, or don’t complete the 12-week challenge, my recommendation is to keep working on it! We are a work in progress our entire life.

As I mentioned earlier, keep in mind that you may move through these stages (depending on the behavior you want to change). I will use myself as an example here. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease several years ago and have been told I should try to follow a gluten free diet. There are other items I should avoid to decrease inflammation, as well. I have been swaying between stages 3 and 4 with this. I will go a few weeks doing really well and staying away from the items I should avoid; but lets admit it, bread is really good!

It’s all about life’s lessons. It’s about forgiving ourselves and moving forward. You’ll never hear me change my words when it comes to that statement!



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