How do we create change?

May 24, 2018

In fitness, we talk about making changes.  What does that mean, and how do we implement the change itself?


There are lots of ways to attempt change.  Where do we start, and how do we begin to think of change?  As coaches, most of us are in reasonably good shape, and we have routines that work for us.  Those routines and habits literally make us who we are.  From portion sizes to activity levels, our health and appearance is the result of what we engage in on a daily basis.  Knowing what to do as coaches to be healthy and fit is an entirely different ballgame than trying to help others adopt healthier behaviors.  


I know how hard it is to make changes that stick.  I have been a person who didn’t always workout, smoked cigarettes in my youth, and ate fast food too frequently.  You name it.  We’re not here to be perfect, but we can create positive change in our lives that ultimately leads to improved overall health and well-being.

How do we make change stick?


Let’s take a look at the transtheoretical model (TTM) of change (Prochaska & Velicer, 1997).  To me, this is so encouraging.  It’s a circle.  There’s no beginning or end to it.  There’s no failure to implement the change.  If you look at the relapse phase in the center, even that leads us back to returning to the circle, because through that relapse we learn.  It’s a process.  The relapse stage leads to an increased awareness of the changes we are making. 


There is the precontemplation stage of entry.  We'd just be going about our day to day and not yet thinking about what changes we need to make.  Next up, we have the contemplation stage where we think about the change we want to make.  Maybe our pants are too tight and we're thinking that feels like a problem.   The preparation stage is the point where we go, "Hey, my pants are too tight, and I've gained weight and need to do something.  Maybe I'll go for walks on my lunch and after work."  The action stage is where we have a plan.  We decide to ask co-workers to join us for a walk down the street to get lunch instead of ordering in the cafeteria and ask our significant others to join us for a walk after dinner.  Maintenance is sustaining this habit and doing those things on a daily basis.  At some point we might have to work through lunch or the  weather gets really bad and then we relapse.  Your pants get tight, and the cycle starts again.  This time, you know what works and what you need to do.  You enter the circle again and eventually are maintaining the habit.

This handy little graphic sums it up.  The change is cumulative.  It occurs in steps and is a process. 

When applying this to fitness and health we can:

  1. Ask ourselves what change we want to implement.  What do we want to do?  Eat less to lose fat?  Walk more?  A single change at a time is the way to go. Let’s not overwhelm ourselves.

  2. Where are we in this process?  Did we get busy with work and forget to get in all our steps?  We can always reevaluate.  

  3. What support system do we have in place to assist in this process?  Coaches? Partners to go on a walk with?  Friends?  No man is an island.

  4. If the change is in place, what or who is helping you keep the change? Co-workers, friends, coaches, or significant others?  Look to that support system.

Do you have any questions about making change?  Let me know!





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