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Plot Your Weight Loss Course

I'm sure you already know that weight loss and improved fitness don't happen overnight. But did you know that there are steps that you can take to improve your chances of weight loss success before you even start your healthier eating and exercise plan?

There are five distinct stages of behavioral change. Knowing what stage you are at now will help you to create a road map which will help you to achieve your future weight loss and improved fitness goals.

Here are the five major phases:

Stage 1 - Pre-contemplation:

This is the point where you don't feel that any change in your lifestyle is necessary. You may be thinking that exercising just takes too much time or that fast food is just too convenient to even consider giving up. Starting a fitness or healthier eating program during this stage would probably result in failure. The best thing you can do during this phase is to reassess your life goals and educate yourself further about health, diseases and risks.

Stage 2 - Contemplation:

During this stage you may start thinking that a change is necessary.

So, you think that maybe cutting back to eating fast food only three times a week is not so bad and you might be able to at least take a walk once in awhile. This is a good time to learn more about the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise.

Stage 3 - Preparation:

At this point you are getting more serious about taking action. You've penciled in a walk with your friend for next week and are planning to go grocery shopping to cook a home meal. You may want to research exercise equipment, gyms, personal trainers, and healthier eating programs to learn more about what you can do to get in better shape.

Stage 4 - Action:

Here's where you actually take the first step. The first step may be as simple as taking a daily walk, reducing your fast food visits to twice a month or just cutting back on daily soft drinks and unhealthy snacks. Or, you may go as far as hiring a personal trainer or joining a gym. During this stage it is very important to learn coping mechanisms that will help you avoid relapsing into your old ways. One way to avoid exercise dropout is to form new healthy habits that lead to permanent lifestyle changes.

Stage 5 - Maintenance:

This is, of course, the stage that everyone should strive to be in. Being here means that you are exercising regularly and eating healthily most of the time. It is important throughout this stage (which should last the rest of your life) that you include a variety of exercise types or workouts that change relatively frequently. You should also seek and encourage the support of friends and family and include them wherever possible in the healthier aspects of your new life.

What stage are you in right now?

So, now can you identify what stage you are at? You may find that you are in the pre-contemplation stage for nutritional habits but that you are in the preparation stage for exercises. That's okay. It's not critical for you to force both areas into the same stage. You can work on changing your nutritional and exercise habits separately.

The key to success is first identifying your stage and then taking steps to advance to the next level (unless, of course, you are already at the Maintenance stage). Use the suggestions mentioned above in each stage to help you move to the next phase.

It's also important to tune-in to your fears, past struggles and expectations. Making nutritional and exercise changes is not easy and should be approached slowly. Remember to make small changes. Don't try to go from a completely sedentary lifestyle to an hour of daily exercise overnight. Build up slowly starting with even just 10 minutes of exercise every other day.

And lastly, be sure to inform your family and friends of your plans and enlist their support. Support is extremely important for anyone with weight loss and fitness related goals.

For all your weight loss and healthy lifestyle needs, visit and become a happier, healthier you.

Scott Haywood


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