by Christine Drews

Chris Drews

Did you know there is actually scientific research that proves we should give ourselves and others grace for where we are at in this process of getting moving?

James Prochaska and his colleagues at the University of Rhode Island developed what is called the “transtheoretical model.” It has been used quite successfully in helping people to change habits such as quitting smoking and becoming more physically active. It incorporates stages of “readiness to change” as a person moves along a fluid continuum of changing a habit.

The Five Stages of Change

Take a look at the five stages and see where you are at. Give yourself some grace for being there! Weigh the pros and cons of making a change. You might even list them. Once the pros become more important to you, you’re likely to move along in this process.

You might move back and forth between stages, and when you do, consider what has worked for you in the past: How might you apply something from that past success to help you overcome the new hurdle?

1. Not thinking about physical activity (precontemplation)

In this stage, you are not even thinking about being physically active. If you find yourself here, you might consider thinking more about physical activity and how being physically active could improve your life or your outlook. This is a valuable stage. Give yourself some grace for being here, and allow yourself to think about physical activity even if you’re not being active quite yet.

2. Thinking about physical activity (contemplation)

If you think about physical activity, but you haven’t actually started moving, you are here! At least you recognize that physical activity would benefit you. You might have a lot of barriers to being active. Take some time to identify ways to fit small amounts of movement into your life. Park far away, or stand up and walk around the house during television commercials. Congratulate yourself when you take small steps toward being active. Something is better than nothing!

3. Doing some physical activity (preparation)

You really want to be physically active, and you actually are some of the time, but you haven’t found a way to do it regularly. If you’re in this stage, try to identify ways to increase the amount of physical activity you do. The goal for overall health is to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least 5 days a week. You don’t have to be out to run a 5K or lift heavy weights. Do what works for you. You might block out times on your calendar or set a reward system that works for you.

4. Being physically active regularly (action)

If you get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, but you’ve been regularly active for less than 6 months, you are in the action stage. Good for you! Now you want to make your habit consistent and figure out how you’re going to overcome barriers like bad weather, travel schedule, or the holidays.

5. Maintaining regular physical activity (maintenance)

You have been physically active for 30 minutes most days of the week for at least 6 months. You’ve figured out how to fit it in, even when unexpected things happen. You might want to try new activities to keep from getting bored or add more vigorous activities. Even at this stage, give yourself some grace when things don’t go as you have planned, and jump back on track as soon as you are able.

stages of change

Grace for the Now

See? Even science proves grace is effective. Embrace your stage and your journey toward the next one.

The information in this article is based on the book and program Active Living Every Day, 2nd ed., 2011, by S.N. Blair, A.L. Dunn, B.H. Marcus, R.A. Carpenter, and P. Jaret. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

What stage of change are you in?


Check out some other articles by Christine Drews in her Trusting in God series.



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