Updated: Aug 21
Jordan Yaklin MS, CSCS.
Most people who try to lose weight will go from living a sedentary lifestyle with poor eating habits to immediately dropping all of their poor habits and try to automatically adopt new ones. This most commonly includes crash dieting and exercising every day. This will almost always last 3 days until the person gets burned out and relapses into their old ways because “it’s too hard” or “I am way too sore to work out today.” You didn’t get this way overnight; you aren’t going to change your lifestyle overnight either. You will need to build up to developing healthy behaviors. This program will help you develop healthy habits in 4 weeks.
There is a theoretical model that helps break up developing healthy behaviors into stages. This model is called the Transtheoretical Model. There are six stages to this model:
Precontemplation - In this stage, people do not intend to take action in the foreseeable future (defined as within the next 6 months). People are often unaware that their behavior is problematic or produces negative consequences. People in this stage often underestimate the pros of changing behavior and place too much emphasis on the cons of changing behavior.
Contemplation - In this stage, people are intending to start the healthy behavior in the foreseeable future (defined as within the next 6 months). People recognize that their behavior may be problematic, and a more thoughtful and practical consideration of the pros and cons of changing the behavior takes place, with equal emphasis placed on both. Even with this recognition, people may still feel ambivalent toward changing their behavior.
Preparation (Determination) - In this stage, people are ready to take action within the next 30 days. People start to take small steps toward the behavior change, and they believe changing their behavior can lead to a healthier life.
Action - In this stage, people have recently changed their behavior (defined as within the last 6 months) and intend to keep moving forward with that behavior change. People may exhibit this by modifying their problem behavior or acquiring new healthy behaviors.
Maintenance - In this stage, people have sustained their behavior change for a while (defined as more than 6 months) and intend to maintain the behavior change going forward. People in this stage work to prevent relapse to earlier stages.
Termination - In this stage, people have no desire to return to their unhealthy behaviors and are sure they will not relapse. Since this is rarely reached, and people tend to stay in the maintenance stage, this stage is often not considered in health promotion programs.
I won’t go into any more detail than that but when people decide to crash diet and vigorously exercise, they go straight from the Contemplation stage to the Action stage, completely skipping the Preparation stage.
This entire article is about the Preparation stage and why it is so important.
The Preparation stage is where you build a strong foundation for the healthy behaviors you will be building. You cannot build a house without a strong foundation. You cannot live a healthy life without building a strong base either.
A few things to consider for this program:
We will keep everything as simple as possible.
We will be practicing flexible dieting (more on that later).
We may not see much change in the scale at this time, this is not the main focus this month.