An often overlooked part of any body transformation plan is psychology. Psychology is very important as it is the driving force behind your motivation and adherence. Without it temptations are more likely to win over and your plan is likely to come to an end.
There are many theories and models of exercise psychology. One that has been used for decades is the trans theoretical model. This model was developed to help people identify as to what stage of a behavioural change they were in and so what strategies to apply to move to the next stage.
The stages in the trans theoretical model are:
- Precontemplation, where you don’t recognise that a problem exists.
- Contemplation- where you accept that a problem does exist.
- Preparation- where you get things in place ready to make a change.
- Action- where you have begun the new behaviour change.
- Maintenance- at which point you have continued the new behaviour for 6 months.
I have skipped precontemplation as the very fact that you are here means that you are at least in contemplation stage.
So how do you move from contemplation to preparation?
Proven strategies are educating yourself on the benefits of eating well and exercising and the negatives of being sedentary and eating badly. Also improve your understanding of how to eat and train well, such as which exercises to do and what foods to eat.
Decision balance sheets will also be useful. Just write all the benefits to yourself and loved ones on one side of a sheet and all of the losses to yourself and loved ones on the other.
The perception of your significant others at this stage is massively important. So try to get your partner on board. If they won’t get on board then ignore their negative attitudes, else it will hurt your self-efficacy and motivation. Also focus on improving your own belief that you can be successful, self-efficacy is very useful here.
Use prompts, such as leaving fruit next to the cheese box or by preparing your training bag and leaving it by your briefcase. Plan what you will do and write and sign a contract that you will stick to the plan.
Finally go out and experience some kind of physical activity, preferably lots of different types so you can find what you enjoy.
How do you move from preparation to action?
You have now moved into the preparation stage. Many skip this step, but it is very important to adherence as a failure to prepare really is preparing for failure.
At the preparation stage set your goals. Identify things that are likely to make you quit your plan and put coping strategies in place to cope, for instance your friend may tempt you to go watch a movie instead, but your coping strategy I advising your friends that Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays you train and so will not be available.
Continue to acquire knowledge, but also begin at this stage to acquire any equipment that you need.
Try to obtain social support, from family, friends or support groups.
Finally put reinforcement strategies in place, such as rewards for achieving a certain goal weight and charting of your progress and attendance.
What strategies should I use to move from action to maintenance?
Ok. So you’ve reached the action stage
To maintain this stage and move towards maintenance the following strategies are to be utilized.
Continue using goal setting, make your goals realistic and when you achieve one, set the next one. Try to obtain mastery experiences by developing your proficiency in your chosen exercise type. Continue to use social support. Continue to use reinforcement strategies and continue to assess relapse triggers and set coping strategies.
As you do these, if you have applied the strategies of self efficacy and self-determination, then you will begin to notice that your intrinsic motivation and your self-efficacy are rising, providing more power and momentum to your motivation and adherence.
After 6 months of continues healthy eating and exercise, congratulations, you have reached the maintenance stage. The new behaviours have now become habit and part of your self-identity.
It is still possible to relapse at this stage, but is far less likely. To avoid it continue to use goal setting and relapse trigger identification and relevant coping strategies.
Finally realise that bad behaviour are inevitable. Everyone has a cheat meal or skips a workout session. But as long as you make it a 1 time thing and get back on the wagon straight away, you will not relapse and fall back a number of stages.
As always if you have any questions give me a shout. If you have any comments them stick them in below. I always read them.
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