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Stages of Change

Introducing any major change into our daily lives-dropping an old habit or adopting a new one-can be very challenging. Trying to quit smoking or starting an exercise program is like setting off on a journey; it requires a step-by-step approach. In making strength training a regular habit-as in making any major lifestyle change-most people go through four stages: contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

Stage 1: Contemplation-Getting Motivated
In this first stage, you are intrigued by what you have heard about strength training. At this stage, you work on getting motivated, on examining your goals, and asking yourself what you want to get out of the program.

Stage 2: Preparation-Starting Your Journey
At this stage, you take steps to prepare for a new exercise regimen. You set aside the physical space needed to do the exercises and buy the necessary equipment. You look at your schedule to see where strength training might fit in and establish specific exercise days and times.

Stage 3: Action-Adopting the Program
At this exciting stage, you are learning the exercises and doing them regularly and consistently, two or three times per week. You are beginning to see the results of your work! Technically, the action stage continues as long as you are engaged in the program. But after about six months of doing the exercises, you will have graduated to the maintenance stage.

Stage 4: Maintenance-Progressing and Staying on Track
This is the stage at which strength training becomes a way of life. When you reach this point, there’s a good chance that you find it hard to imagine not doing your exercises. As you progress, you may add new strengthening exercises to your routine and new activities to your life.

For some people, one stage flows easily and naturally into the next within a relatively short period of time and with few major problems. But many of us get hung up at one stage or another. Keep in mind that it often takes several attempts to change one’s way of life. Stay with it-you’ll find that the effort pays off in ways you never imagined!

Tufts Nutrition