There is something that, a bit overcomplicatedly, is called the transtheoretical model or Prochaska’s stages of change.
It’s just a recognised order of the stages people go through when change is needed. It can be applied to most occurrences of change in your life but is very relevant to changes in health-related behaviour like changing to more healthy eating, taking up exercise or stopping smoking or drinking so much alcohol. The problem is, a lot of people who would benefit from change are at the precontemplation stage, so they won’t even be reading this and they won’t be part of the fitnaturally *revolution*! Ah well.
Stage 1: Precontemplation (Not Ready) People at this stage do not intend to start the healthy behaviour in the near future (within 6 months), and may be unaware of the need to change. People here learn more about healthy behaviour: they are encouraged to think about the Pros of changing their behaviour and to feel emotions about the effects of their negative behaviour on others.
Precontemplators typically underestimate the Pros of changing, overestimate the Cons, and often are not aware of making such mistakes. These individuals are encouraged to become more mindful of their decision making and more conscious of the multiple benefits of changing an unhealthy behaviour.
Stage 2: Contemplation (Getting Ready) At this stage, participants are intending to start the healthy behaviour within the next 6 months. While they are usually now more aware of the Pros of changing, their Cons are about equal to their Pros. This ambivalence about changing can cause them to keep putting off taking action.
People here learn about the kind of person they could be if they changed their behaviour and learned more from people who behave in healthy ways. They’re encouraged to work at reducing the Cons of changing their behaviour.
Stage 3: Preparation (Ready) People at this stage are ready to start taking action within the next 30 days. They take small steps that they believe can help them make the healthy behaviour a part of their lives. For example, they tell their friends and family that they want to change their behaviour.
People in this stage are encouraged to seek support from friends they trust, tell people about their plan to change the way the act, and think about how they would feel if they behaved in a healthier way. Their number one concern is—when they act, will they fail? They learn that the better prepared they are the more likely they are to keep progressing.
Stage 4: Action People at this stage have changed their behaviour within the last 6 months, and need to work hard to keep moving ahead. These participants need to learn how to strengthen their commitments to change and to fight urges to slip back.
People in this stage are taught techniques for keeping up their commitments such as substituting activities related to the unhealthy behaviour with positive ones, rewarding themselves for taking steps toward changing, and avoiding people and situations that tempt them to behave in unhealthy ways.
Stage 5: Maintenance People at this stage changed their behaviour more than 6 months ago. It is important for people in this stage to be aware of situations that may tempt them to slip back into doing the unhealthy behaviour—particularly stressful situations.
It is recommended that people in this stage seek support from and talk with people whom they trust, spend time with people who behave in healthy ways, and remember to engage in alternative activities to cope with stress instead of relying on unhealthy behavior.