Eating poorly and not being active can wreak havoc on the body. These behaviors lead to a variety of health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The incentaHEALTH team recommends using the six stages of change for healthy living to discover how you can change your habits and reach your weight management goals.
- Precontemplation – At this stage, you haven’t decided to make a change yet. You understand that you need to make a change, but aren’t ready to start the process. The perceived barriers of change outweigh the perceived benefits. To move past this stage, start educating yourself on weight management to see how it can benefit you.
- Contemplation – At this stage, you are considering changing in the next six months. You have discovered how changing your behavior can benefit you and it’s time to start thinking about how you can overcome the perceived barriers to behavior change. Your perceived benefits and barriers are about equal causing an equilibrium which can lead to procrastination in behavior change. To move past this stage, start to develop strategies to overcome the barriers that are keeping your from engaging in change.
- Preparation – At this stage, you are now ready to engage in behavior change in the next 30 days and you have started taking steps to best prepare yourself for success. This is considered by some as the most important step of the behavior change process. Now that you have thought about the issues and considered their impact, you can start making a plan to start exercising and eating right.
- Action – At this stage, you are practicing your new behavior change for the next 6 months. By working hard and keeping your goals in sight, you’ll begin making changes in the way you live. Be careful of stressful events that might cause you to fall back into an earlier stage of change. Internal and external factors can cause an individual to slip back and shift between stages.
- Maintenance – At this stage, you have now engaged in a healthy behavior for over six months! Now that you know what works for you, amend your process so that it continues to work for you. Learn from your mistakes and figure out how they can be avoided.
- Termination – In this stage, individuals have zero temptation and they are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping. This stage is normally not considered in health behavior change.
Think about these steps. Do you know where you are in this process? Discovering your issues can help you improve your life and prevent future health problems.