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Riding the 'Cycle of Change'

Mind, Body & Soul Fitness - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Understanding the 'Cycle of Change' will help to move you towards a fitter, healthier you.

Before I discuss with you the 'Cycle of Change' here are a few quotes to consider based around the concept of change.

"Life is change, growth is optional. Choose wisely." - Karen Kaiser Clark 

'The principles you live by create the world you live in; if you change the principles you live by you will change your world."  - Blaine Lee 

'Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.' - Jim Rohn

Whatever you decide to take from the 3 quotes above, it is inevitable that you will experience change in all facets of your life even on a daily basis.

Our own human body is naturally fluid, (around 60% liquid to be exact) and changes are occurring within your body even as you read this blog. Changing heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, body temperature, sugar levels, acidity levels, energy levels etc.  Some of these bodily changes you can consciously control (eg. breathing rate), however some of your automated human systems (eg. those that control body temperature & sugar levels) are designed to resist change and find equilibrium (homeostasis). It is the human body that best adapts to change that wins out in the race for survival.  So this poses an interesting question, why then are humans often consciously resistant to positive change.

The 'Cycle of Change' provides part of the answer as to the human condition in relation to change.  Research has shown that when it comes to change we fall into one of six categories at any given point in time, for any given behaviour that we choose to engage in.

We can move forward or backwards through the 6 stages described in the diagram below:



1          Prochaska, J. Norcross, J. and Diclemente, C.  (1994;2002) Changing for Good


For example, to determine what stage of change you are at, just find the statement below that best describes your exercise habits:

  • Pre-contemplation
I won't or can't exercise...

  • Contemplation
I may exercise...

  • Preparation
I will exercise...

  • Action
I am exercising...

  • Maintenance
I am sustaining regular exercise...

  • Relapse
I was exercising...

You may also use the diagram below to help discover what stage of change you are currently at in relation to your exercise behaviour:



CONCLUSION:

In my experience as a fitness trainer & wellness coach I am fully aware of the importance of moving my clients to a maintenance stage of exercise. This is the stage where they will develop a fitness routine and are likely to achieve ongoing health & fitness benefits.  However, exercise adherence may only be part of the solution towards achieving everlasting wellness.  

Healthy eating habits may only be at a 'contemplation' or 'preparation' phase which would not effectively support moving us in the direction of positive change.  We are therefore, all at a certain stage of change for each set of behaviors in which we engage.  Identifying the stage is an essential step to help us know what will move us forward.  

Relapse is often seen as a slip or failure.  I see it as a part of the process of change.  Relapse can happen many times while someone is trying to make a behaviour change.  It is seen as a temporary lapse back to the old behaviour, but the person may then go straight back into any of the other stages.  People can often go around the cycle many times before their behaviour change becomes permanent. 

Remember that change happens every day, every moment, everywhere.  To live fully we must learn to embrace positive change and honour it as growth.

References:

Cosgrove, Fiona , (Wellness Coaching Australia): 'Coach Yourself to Wellness.'

Prochaska, J. Norcross, J. and Diclemente, C (1994;2002) 'Changing for Good.'
 
Brett Smith, Wellness Coach (Mind Body & Soul Fitness Studio).