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Are You Ready To Change? Let’s Make It Happen!

change butterfliesAre you ready to change?  Well then, on your mark, get set, GO!  What's that you say, you're not that ready?  Or, are you simply using you're level of "readiness to change" as the basis for your procrastination?

Well, action can often come before desire.  So, you don't always have to do the "on your mark" and "get set" stuff, sometimes you can just go!

As a Trainer, I need to remember that behavioral change is rarely an isolated, single event.  In fact, to effectively change, there are several stages that have already been identified as routine steps to achieve a goal.  During the past decade, behavior change has come to be understood as a process of identifiable stages of "readiness".

They are the "pre-contemplation stage", "contemplation stage", "preparation stage", "action stage" and the "maintenance and relapse prevention stage".

Helping clients change their behavior is an important role for every Personal or Group Fitness Trainer.  A change in a client's lifestyle is almost always a necessary step towards successful management of their long-term health and fitness goals.

Most clients can easily understand the need for lifestyle modifications (i.e., “I need to reduce the junk food I eat in order to control my weight.” or, "I need to get more exercise.") but they also find that consistent, life-long behavior changes can be difficult.  Although they understand the need, they may not be fully prepared to embrace the changes required to achieve their desired goal.

For most people, behavioral change occurs gradually, with the person moving from being uninterested, unaware or unwilling to make a change (pre-contemplation), to considering a change (contemplation), to deciding and preparing to make a change.  Genuine, determined steps are then taken (action) and, over time, attempts to maintain the new behavior should occur.

It helps if I can get a client to determine where they are on the continuum between "not prepared to change" (pre-contemplation) and "already changing" (action), and then promote the identification and discussion of perceived barriers to that change.

However, by the time I meet a client, they're usually past the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages.  They wouldn't be contacting me if they hadn't already identified a need to change and want some assistance to make it happen.  Most are even past the preparation stage and they're ready to take action.  At least they say they are.  In reality, although they may truly believe they're ready to take action, many are still at the pre-contemplation stage ("in denial") and it can sometimes be a struggle to get them to trust in my knowledge and expertise.

Giving up an enjoyed behavior (especially an ingrained one that they really enjoy, no matter how unhealthy it may be) will cause a client to feel a sense of loss, even despite the actual (or perceived) gains in their fitness level.  I usually try to allow them to properly "mourn" the loss of their daily latte, double-double, donut or nightly bowl of ice cream covered with chocolate syrup.  What I won't allow them (at least while they're training with me) is to continue with a sedentary lifestyle.  I want them to do at least 2 classes with me and a 3rd cardio effort (walk, run or bike ride) on their own time.  And, I hope that they'll keep up something similar to that even when they're no longer with me.

Also, I think it must be made clear that everyone contemplating making a change should acknowledge that relapses are almost inevitable.  But, if you don't permit those relapses to derail your efforts completely, they become simply a small part of the process of working toward successful lifelong change.  In fact, many clients will find themselves “recycling” through the various stages of change several times before the change truly becomes established as a "new" lifestyle habit.

The maintenance stage is the one that most Trainers are eager to see their clients reach. However, many failed New Year's resolutions provide adequate evidence that if the prior stages have been glossed over, action itself is often not enough.  And, without the action, the maintenance stage is unattainable.  For that reason, any action taken by clients should be praised because it demonstrates the desire for a healthy lifestyle change.  I try to celebrate every milestone and achievement with my clients.  I know it positively reinforces their resolve to succeed.

If you're thinking that you're ready to change, please contact me!  I know I can help you achieve your fitness goals.  Let me assist you to find your "butterfly" within!

LoreliLoreli's company, Alter Ego Fitness Experience, offers Personal Training, Group Fitness (boot camp) and YogaFit training options. Her passion for overall health and wellness, and her innate ability to sense a client’s personal struggles, enables her to assist them to get to their next level and to, ultimately, find their “alter ego”!

"Overall health and fitness is a journey, not a destination!"

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