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It's that time of year once again. We're all making our resolution lists and checking them twice. Improving your physical condition and appearance usually ranks at number 1 or 2 on most people's pecking order of priorities.
Whether beginning a new diet and exercise program, or attempting any type of behavioral modification, most of us progress through several stages before successfully making real change.
According to the Transtheoretical Model (developed by James O. Prochaska and Carlos C. DiClemente) there are five specific cycles an individual normally goes through. Identifying what Behavioral Stage of Change you're currently in can help you determine the best strategy to assist in advancing to the next stage, and ultimately to stage five.
1. Pre-contemplation Stage: not intending to make changes
2. Contemplation Stage: considering a change
3. Preparation Stage: small changes, ready to change soon
4. Action Stage: actively engaging in the new behavior
5. Maintenance Stage: sticking with the behavior change
If you feel you're at Stage 3 or above, check out this great workout.
If you're at this point in your quest for a lean and healthy body, you need learn more about the importance of incorporating exercise into your life. Make a list of the pros of physical activity. Talk about exercising with your friends and family members. Get all the facts - the more research you do, the more you'll learn of the profoundly positive benefits of exercise, driving you to get started.
Increase your intention by addressing your personal love (or at least like) of a certain type(s) of exercise, and stressing the benefits those exercises will provide specifically for you. This is where your subconscious mind connects the dots. Say to yourself, �If I perform activity A, I will experience effect B." Once you realize how powerful this simple process can be, you�re ready to move on to the next stage.
Create a plan for your exercise program and set a target date to start. Again, focus on the pros of exercise and how they will directly affect you. Go out and find resources that may assist you. Seek out professional help if necessary. If your Start Date comes and goes, reschedule, but don't let it set you back.
If you do your homework in the first 3 stages, stage 4 should be a breeze. Most initial dropouts are the result of unrealistic expectations and trying to do too much too soon. Over training can be prevented by starting slow, progressing at a sensible rate, getting adequate rest and recovery, and incorporating proper nutrition and hydration into your program. Results will follow.
Those that do make it through the first few weeks, usually fall prey to boredom and lack of variety that effectively challenges them. Disinterest and boredom are much more complex issues that need to be overcome by the seasoned vet as well as the exercise novice.
Research, knowledge, and imagination, are the 3 keys to keeping yourself on track here. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Become familiar with multiple exercise modalities instead of just sticking with the same old thing.
No more than ten percent of those that begin a fitness program make it through the first six weeks. That's a depressing statistic that needs to be gotten past if you're going to make exercise (and it's profound effect on you) an enjoyable part of your life. Here are a few tips to keep you working out over the long haul.
Maintenance Stage Tips
* Shift your focus from the outcome to the process. Instead of setting long-term goals that relate to outcomes such as weight loss, set goals that relate to participation.
* Set a clear goal for each exercise session. Don't be vague or you're likely to focus on boredom, discomfort or other negative experiences.
* Practice your concentration during exercise. Mental strategies can help you experience flow, an optimal psychological state characterized by intense absorption in your workout, a clear sense of your goals and a feeling of letting go.
* Tune into feedback. Take time after your workout session to note how your body felt and what you thought about.
* Take note of where you are, and where you've been. Appreciate what exercise and taking care of yourself has done for you, and its endless application in your life. What usually starts of as a goal of weight loss, turns into a lifelong pursuit of a trim, fully functional and healthy body.
Identify how ready you are to actually start a new exercise program, and apply the specific strategy that fits your current scenario. Progress through each Behavioral Stage of Change at your own pace, as no amount of pushing before you're ready will do any good. Ultimately, learning to enjoy the process is what makes a fitness or weight loss program stick. For a great program, click here.
Please enjoy your New Year with an eye toward moderation in everything you do, including exercise. --- Thank You, Michael Stefano
MICHAEL STEFANO is the creator and author of the Firefighter's Workout (Harper Collins 2000). Mr. Stefano is a health and fitness writer and contributor to eDiets, eFitness, & Firehouse.Com. In addition, Michael's articles have appeared on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! His workouts have been featured in magazine and newspapers from around the country, as well as in numerous network and cable TV segments. He also offers a customized version of his amazing program, via a comprehensive 15-point fitness profile form.
"My program is a no-nonsense approach to exercise and weight loss that will not only get you fit, but will also fit into your life".
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