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Stages of Change

Hey guys! Here’s a section from our book about how to negotiate changing your habits when  you’re in a relationship. Enjoy!

“For most couples, seeing eye-to-eye on health and fitness is something you dream about, but not really a practical reality. You may like to read articles about diet and vegetables, but your partner is only interested in hitting the gym. Or, perhaps fitness has never been part of your relationship, but as you become more interested in a life change, you’re hoping your partner will be excited about changing with you.  In order to make this transition as easy as possible, it will be helpful to understand how willing your partner is to change and what methods will be most helpful in ensuring the two of you change together. In this section, we’ll teach you about the 4 stages of change and what strategies are most effective in communicating with a partner at each stage.  This theory was originally published by Prochaska et al in 1992, and the strategies we discuss are based on a paper published by Zimmerman et al in the American Family Physician Journal.

T he Stages of Change model shows that most people slowly change their behavior over time, instead of just having that “aha” moment. True change in one life takes time and is not a linear progression. Relapses are almost guaranteed to occur and actually become a piece of the process. The Stages of Change model describes 4 stages along to way to making a life change; pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation and action.  In the pre-contemplation stage, a person has no intent or desire to change. They don’t think the statistics apply to them and they don’t think there is any reason to live their life differently. In the contemplation stage, a person will begin to weight the benefits and costs of changing their habits. They may see the merit in diet or exercise, but giving up their lifestyle will seem like a loss. In the preparation stage, a person is getting ready to make a big change. They may test out smaller changes such as buying a pair of walking shoes or shopping for low-fat items in the grocery store. Finally, the big leap is the action stage. This person has weighed the pros and cons, done the proper preparation and has decided to jump in and live life differently.

It is critical to understand where your partner is in the stages of change before you expect a significant alteration in their behavior. If they aren’t even contemplating change, then giving them goal setting tips probably isn’t your best course of action. The most effective way to help your partner change their lifestyle right along with you is to match your interventions with their stage. So how do you do that?

The best thing you can do is to listen. Ask your partner how they feel about diet, exercise or even their own health and then listen to what they have to say. More than likely, they’ll let you know exactly where they are just by their answer. Here’s what to listen for:

If they are in the…. They might say….
Pre-contemplation Stage “All that research doesn’t apply to me”

“It’s impossible for me to lose weight”

“I’m fine the way I am”

In this stage, your partner won’t think change is necessary at all. They don’t think advice applies to them and altering their lifestyle is not something they are interested in.

 

Contemplation Stage “I know I should work out, but I just don’t have time”

“I’d like to eat better, but I just hate the taste of vegetables”

Your partner will be receptive to the benefits of diet and exercise, but they feel that the cost (whether it be money, time, or taste) is just too much

 

Preparation Stage “I’ll try walking once a week with you”

“I guess some more vegetables would be nice”

Your partner may be willing to try out small changes that don’t seem too intimidating

 

Action Stage “Alright, let’s do it”

Good idea! I’ll challenge you to see who loses the most weight!”

In the action phase, your partner is truly ready to make a big life change

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One response to this post.

  1. […] forget to check out our book on amazon! For a sample chapter, click here Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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