Every January after the start of the New Year, it seems that the “resolution” on top of many people’s lists is getting in better shape. The idea of a brand new blank canvas of 365 days which wipes clean all previous transgressions of missed workouts and poor food choices of the past is both appealing and inspiring.
This new-found motivation usually subsides in somewhere between 2-4 weeks, and many “resolutioners” find themselves off track. This article takes a closer look at the stages of change, effective goal setting, and the power of community support with highlights from my own personal experience.
New Years Day 2007, I was sick and tired of feeling awful. Through a series of poor life choices, my weight had skyrocketed to just over 300lbs (I’m 5’5”). Many times in the past, I would join a gym, eat right, lose 20lbs or so, and then fall off track. This time, I was determined to make a lasting change.
I had heard about the opening of a new New York Sports Club in my hometown of Clifton, NJ and signed up with two of my friends during the presale. This gym didn’t open until March, so for January and February, I joined a small local gym with my boyfriend at the time who also needed to lose over 100lbs.
Day 1, I worked out for about a total of 12 minutes on an elliptical before I was unable to continue. Day 2, I came back and made it 15 minutes. The remainder of January was spent trying to build up some form of baseline endurance and make going to the gym a consistent habit. I also began to record everything I was eating in a food journal.
I lost 30 lbs the first month. I wasn’t doing anything special. I cut out some of my egregious previous food choices and was consistent and progressive with my workouts. I made sure I went to the gym 5 days each week, and I stopped getting breakfast from the food trucks at work which often consisted of ring dings and redbull. Seeing these initial results was critical in my drive to continue making progress.
Fast forward to March. Going to NYSC and having friends to workout with was helpful, but at the time I didn’t realize just how important this was. Not only was I motivated to see the friends I joined with, there’s something amazing that happens when a group of people come together to work hard for a common goal—our gym had formed a Community—everyone from the front desk staff, trainers, managers, instructors, and members. We noticed each other’s accomplishments and efforts. We pushed each other harder than we would have pushed ourselves, we made being there fun even when the workouts weren’t. I found my passion in fitness and decided to make it a career. I went on to work for NYSC for the next 8 years.
Let’s take a look at a theoretical model of the stages of change..
In brief summary, a person experiences the following stages in order, until an upward spiral is created or a relapse occurs.
- Pre-contemplation: do not want to change
- Contemplation: deciding if change is worth the effort required
- Preparation: knowing what needs to change and mapping out the steps to make change occur
- Action: following processes that are creating change
- Maintenance or relapse: continuing the processes that support change, or relapsing to pre-contemplation or contemplation stages.
Progress through stages 1-2 must come from within you. No fitness program or diet plan can work if you don’t have a “why.” A person must make a conscious decision to shift the focus from his or her circle of concern (my life is already hectic, I have no time to cook, I hate kale, etc..) to their circle of influence (how can I improve this situation, what factors am I able to control). By eliminating self-judgement, dropping any passive or victim thinking, and assuming a growth mindset, progress to stage 3 will occur.
Stage 3 starts the “what” and “how,” of change. Often times we set goals, even S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable attainable, time-bound), such as, “I’m going to lose 15lbs by summer,” or “I’m going to be able to squat 250lbs.” While these goals are important, they are based on outcomes rather than processes. The dual benefits in formulating process-based goals such as, “I will workout 4 times per week,” are breaking larger goals into manageable, scheduled, baby steps and focusing on consistency of effort rather than solely on outcome. This will lead the individual directly into stage 4.
During stage 4 is where the change actually happens. A person in stage 4 has priorities and behavior in alignment with his or her goals. They are actively participating in creating the best version of themselves.
Now here’s the tricky part…
Stage 5 really isn’t its own entity. Stage 5 is more of a crossroads where an individual determines if he or she is going to stay the course or revert to previous behavior that does not support their goals. This could be anything from slacking on workouts, deviating from a healthy diet, or simply lost motivation. Stage 5 is the difference between continued success, or relapse to stages 2 or 3.
The secret to avoiding relapse? COMMUNITY. We have strength in numbers. Support from friends, family, and most importantly other individuals sharing similar goals, is indispensably instrumental for creating lasting change.
Here at Limitless Performance and Therapy, our supportive culture and welcoming environment created by our staff and members is truly our most valuable asset. Whether you are new to CrossFit or are a seasoned athlete, from the moment you walk through our doors you know you are part of a Community. It’s no longer about how much weight we can lift; it’s about how much we can lift up each other.
Check out some of our latest programs designed to help you stick to your resolutions and become the best version of yourself in 2017!
12 Week Transformation Program
$299 (take 25% off until 1/11)
4 Months Unlimited CrossFit ($600 Value!)
Body Fat Testing
Optional Meal Prep Service
Chances to win a Free Membership and other prizes
$117/Month Unlimited CrossFit
All memberships are month-to-month
$50 Intro Month
Includes Foundations for all new CrossFitters
All who take advantage of the Intro Month are also eligible to receive the $117/month rate if they continue.
To learn more about our offerings for the new year, visit http://www.limitlessnj.com/offers.php or contact us at the information listed below.
We wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2017!
Limitless Performance & Therapy
1376 Pompton Ave
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009