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Making a Change

This is an excerpt from Active Living Every Day w/Online Resource-2nd Edition by Steven N. Blair,Andrea L. Dunn,Bess H. Marcus,Ruth Ann Carpenter & Peter Jaret.

Change doesn't happen all at once. It's not a light switch that you can flip on and off. Rather, it is an ongoing process of learning and relearning. Not all of us begin at the same starting point. Researchers have identified five stages of change that most people go through along the way to adopting new habits and behaviors:

  1. Precontemplation (not even thinking about a new habit)
  2. Contemplation (giving it a thought now and then, but not doing it)
  3. Preparation (doing it irregularly)
  4. Action (doing the new habit consistently but for less than six months)
  5. Maintenance (maintaining the new habit for six months or more)

The point is that change takes place in stages. What's more, progress isn't always in one direction. For every two giant steps forward, there may be one step back. That's normal. You may stay in the stage of contemplation for a long time before you move forward. You may go through the stage of preparation quickly. Then you may stay in action for a short time, stumble, and end up back in preparation. This isn't a sign of failure. It's how change happens.

Skills such as keeping track of your progress and thinking positively can help. In this book we'll help you learn and practice these and other strategies to become physically active for a lifetime.