Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, Edgecliff, Marrickville, Bella VistaRandwickLindfield and Balmain today discuss how to make sustainable lifestyle changes and the stages of change.

One thing many of us may have done over the holiday period is make New Years Resolutions relating to our health. But how many of us have put appropriate strategies in places to achieve our goals? Do you know the steps you are going to take to get there? How are you going to ensure you succeed?

Last year our Exercise Physiologist Georgia discussed the importance of setting SMART goals (click here to read the blog https://longevitypt.com.au/blog/new-years-resoloution-and-smart-goals/), which is essential to reducing your risk of failure. It is also equally as important to understand and identify where you are in the Stages of Change cycle in the Transtheoretical Model of Change. This model explains or predicts a person’s success or failure in achieving a proposed behaviour change. It may explain why sometimes you feel like you are “in a rut”, and why you weren’t able to turn your good intentions into long term habits. Let’s take a closer look at these stages:

Stage One: Precontemplation

In this stage, people are not thinking seriously about making a change or looking for any outside help. This may be seen as the “denial” stage, where individuals don’t admit to themselves or others that they are participating in bad habits.

Strategies: Rethink your behaviour and analyse your actions

Stage Two: Contemplation

People are more aware that their current behaviour may be resulting in negative consequences and are thinking about their problem. Individuals do not act on their habits in this stage, but rather weigh up the pros and cons of what a shift in behaviour might look like. They are also more open to receiving information or advice about their bad habit.

Strategies: Write down pros and cons of change and identify barriers to change. Actively seek out support.


Stage Three: Preparation/ Determination

This is when an individual has made a commitment to making a change. They are taking small steps to improve their behaviour and are actively looking for help. It is common for people to sometimes skip this stage and move straight into the action stage. This often results in them falling back into the previous contemplation stage as they have not adequately researched or understood how much of a commitment its going to take to make a sustained lifestyle change.

Strategies: Write down your SMART goals and prepare a plan of action

Stage Four: Action

This is the stage where people are taking significant steps and implementing appropriate strategies to make a change. This stage is also when people are most likely to relapse. To reduce this risk, it is essential to develop plans to deal with internal and external pressures that may lead to you falling of track. Short term rewards to sustain motivation can be highly effective. Individuals can stay in this stage for as little as 1 hour if they are not prepared!

Strategies: Reward yourself when you achieve your short and long term goals

Stage Five: Maintenance

This stage is reached post 6 months of implementing action. Maintenance is when an induvial can resist any temptations to return to a bad habit. This stage, however, does not mean the hard work is over! You must constantly reassess and modify strategies to deal with new challenges. Individuals in this stage can anticipate situations where relapse might occur and prepare accordingly. Most importantly, people in this stage understand that sustained lifestyle change takes constant commitment and effort, and that it is not easy to break bad habits.

Strategies: Develop coping strategies for temptation.

Stage Six: Relapse

In any behaviour change, relapses are a realistic and common occurrence. The key here is to evaluate the triggers for relapse and not let your disappointment undermine our confidence or how far you have come.

Interestingly, as you progress through these stages of change, you may notice what motivates you changes too, and experience much higher intrinsic levels of motivation.

Strategies:  Reaffirm your goal and commit to change and recognise barriers to success

People in the early stages of the Transtheoretical model require high levels of external motivation to shift their way of thinking or to maintain action. It is hence important at the beginning of your journey to make sure you implement external motivating factors, such as seeing an Exercise Physiologist. Interestingly, as you progress through these stages of change, you may notice what motivates you changes too, and experience much higher intrinsic levels of motivation.

We are most likely to fall short of our resolutions if we do not understand how best to prepare, action, and maintain a new behaviour. Seeing an Exercise Physiologist can help you achieve this.

Contact Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista on 1300 964 002 to enquire today.


Verywellmind The 6 stages of Behaviour Change. Updated on November 19, 2020.


Written by Georgia Wassall