The 6 Stages of Change

Today’s verse:  Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

I have recently decided, at my advanced age, that I want to become certified as a group fitness instructor. big armsI have noticed that many women my age go to the gym, but are unable to participate in many of the classes because our bodies just can’t keep up the way the used to.  So  I want to develop and teach a class for seniors, that allows us to stay fit and have fun.

In order to get certified, I must pass a course.  I have been reading the required text and came across an interesting chapter on changing behavior.  I thought it fit very well into the idea of this blog, as it addresses changing habits such as smoking, drinking, overeating, lack of exercise, etc.   So I am paraphrasing it below.  It is from “Fitness Theory and Practice, 5TH edition”.   The model is the Transtheoretical Model, developed by James Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClementi in 1994.

There are basically six stages of readiness for change.  We all need to find our stage and try to move forward.  Read on and see where you fall in this model and maybe you can move up a stage to make a positive change in your life.

Stage 1:  Precontemplation:  People in this stage have no current intentions to change.  They may have tried in the past and it didn’t work, so they are demoralized and have given up.   This can be addressed by raising the consciousness of the person by reading literature on the subject (example – seeing pictures of diseased lungs) , attending lectures, or even if they have a health crisis (a wake-up call).  This can also be addressed by environmental control, such as staying in  no-smoking areas.

Stage 2:  Contemplation:  In this stage, people acknowledge that they have a problem and are willing to think about the need to change.  They are  usually unable to generate enough energy to change, and can stay in this stage for years.   In order to address this and move forward, you can look forward to the future by imagining your life after you have changed the problematic behavior.  Imagine how much more you could do as a non-smoker or non-drinker, or how much you could buy with the money you saved.  Or imagine yourself thin after a diet, or healthy after an eating disorder.  This is a very hard stage to get past.

Stage 3:  Preparation: People here are on the verge of action.  Maybe they have already made small changes.  They are more focused on possibilities of action rather than on the cause of their behavior.  In this stage you need to find some interpersonal support- someone that will listen to you and support you  without judgement or advice, but with concern and empathy.  You need to be your own judge and find the strength to change.  You have to really want it!

Stage 4 – Action:  People in this stage will be following the plan they made in step 3 for changing their behavior.  The more developed the plan, the more successful they will be.  People who have spent a long time in stage 2 and stage 3 are most successful.  In this stage, the plan is solidified and refined, so that it can become a routine.   In this stage, it is often helpful to make a commitment and publicly announce it.  It helps when others know your plan.

Stage 5:  Maintenance:  This stage is arrived at when people have been continuously engaged in the changed behavior for at least 6 months.  They are still subject to relapse so they need to find someone to give them positive feedback and rewards.  You need to be strong when life stresses you out, so you don’t reach for that cigarette to comfort you.  You can get through this stage, and then it becomes a new way of life.  A strategy to help (also helps in Stage 4) is to find a substitute behavior to counter the urge when it hits.  For example, if you feel the urge to snack at night, counter this by going for a short walk, or doing some stretching.  You must control the internal reaction, and be aware when the urge arises and find a substitute behavior.  Here is a good place to pray or practice meditation.

Stage 6:  Termination:  In the stage, the new behavior has become an integral part of daily life, so much so that the likelihood or relapse in non-existent.  There are very few individuals that actually reach this stage, but we can do it!

Throughout all of the stages, pray hard and believe that God is with you.  He will help you in your times of trouble, and you will be stronger for  your efforts.  Never give up and never cease to pray for help.   Blessings to all as you go through the stages of change!

Healthy Living Recipe

Mediterranean Cod with Roasted Tomatoes

4 4-ounce fresh or frozen skinless cod fillets, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
2 tsp. snipped fresh oregano
1 tsp. snipped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
3 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp. sliced pitted ripe olives
2 tsp capers
Fresh oregano and / or thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Rinse thawed fish and pat dry.
In a small bowl, combine oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Sprinkle half of the mixture over both sides of each fillet.

Line a baking pan with foil.  Coat foil with cooking spray.  Place fish on one side of the foil lined pan.  Add tomatoes and garlic slices to the other side of the pan.

Combine second half of the oregano mixture with olive oil and drizzle over tomatoes. Toss to coat.

Bake 8-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, stirring tomato mixture once during baking time.   Garnish with fresh oregano and/or thyme leaves.

Serve with couscous for a great Mediterranean dinner.


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