26 women walking outdoorsI often hear, I need to start exercising. That is an opportunity to talk about fitness, but the decision to begin any type of change that involves lifestyle and fitness is a personal decision.

There are five stages of health behaviors that assess a person’s readiness to change with a new and healthier behavior, according to the Transtheoretical Model.

Precontemplation — In this stage there is little or no interest in starting an activity and the person feels it is irrelevant to their life.

Contemplation — The person is still inactive but is becoming interested in beginning an activity and starts to realize the importance in relation to their lifestyle and health but not ready to make that start to
a change.

Preparation — You are ready to become engaged in an activity. The importance of being active becomes relevant and it may begin with short walks, occasional visits to the gym but still inconsistent.

Action — Engagement is regular physical activity becoming consistent and begins to develop into a routine. The activity is becoming an important part of your life and you find yourself beginning to set a pattern as the months roll by! Six months of continuing your schedule indicates that you are becoming confident in your regimen and results.

Maintenance — You are excited and feel confident with your accomplishments. Mentally and physically, you see and feel a difference and beginning to advance to other goals and challenges!

You have been consistent at keeping your goals for more than six months. You are making a continued commitment and are engaging in a lifestyle.

It is not always easy to get to this stage and many times, the start of an activity will become faced with obstacles and the person can become discouraged before they have gotten started. As an example, Rita has decided to walk three days a week and is doing great with her plan and things come up that interrupt her walking.

What happens is that she begins to put off something that she is enjoying until the next day or the next and a great start has stopped before it developed into something that would have been beneficial.

A SMART goal which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound is an excellent format to follow for goals.

If Rita had a SMART Goal continuing with walking may have helped her focus on a walking regimen. A SMART Goal for Rita: I will begin walking on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 a.m. for twenty minutes each day to improve my stamina for one month.

In this scenario Rita established a time, duration and reason for her exercise which was attainable. Making the decision to be begin a fitness regimen after an illness, injury or being inactive can be rewarding and challenging.

Be kind to yourself with expectations, approach with a slow start because some apprehension is normal. Surround yourself with friends, groups and social media groups that have similar or the same goals. Select an activity that you like and read articles on the benefits. Place your clothes out the night before as a gentle reminder.

Reward yourself for reaching your goals and add new goals as you progress and see results of a new you!

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