Where are you in the cycle of change and how it affects your long term goals.

Categories:   Nutrition

The five stages of change

Over the years I have worked with so many people and have successfully changed their lifestyle for good however not all have changed and it pains me to find the full answer to help but change must come from the person who truly wants it. Below are the 5 stages of change and these assist with anyones goals. I now incorporate motivational interviewing skills in to my consultations which allow me to find out where the client is so we can work on each stage.

  1. Precontemplation
    People in this stage are not thinking seriously about changing and tend to defend their current AOD use patterns. May not see their use as a problem. The positives or benefits, of the behaviour outweigh any costs or adverse consequences so they are happy to continue using.
  2. Contemplation
    People in this stage are able to consider the possibility of quitting or reducing AOD use but feel ambivalent about taking the next step. On the one hand AOD use is enjoyable, exciting and a pleasurable activity. On the other hand, they are starting to experience some adverse consequences (which may include personal, psychological, physical, legal, social or family problems).
  3. Preparation
    Have usually made a recent attempt to change using behaviour in the last year. Sees the ‘cons’ of continuing as outweighing the ‘pros’ and they are less ambivalent about taking the next step. They are usually taking some small steps towards changing behaviour. They believe that change is necessary and that the time for change is imminent. Equally, some people at this stage decide not to do anything about their behaviour.
  4. Action
    Actively involved in taking steps to change their using behaviour and making great steps towards significant change. Ambivalence is still very likely at this stage. May try several different techniques and are also at greatest risk of relapse.
  5. Maintenance
    Able to successfully avoid any temptations to return to using behaviour. Have learned to anticipate and handle temptations to use and are able to employ new ways of coping. Can have a temporary slip, but don’t tend to see this as failure.


During this change process, most people will experience relapse. Relapses can be important for learning and helping the person to become stronger in their resolve to change. Alternatively relapses can be a trigger for giving up in the quest for change. The key to recovering from a relapse is to review the quit attempt up to that point, identify personal strengths and weaknesses, and develop a plan to resolve those weaknesses to solve similar problems the next time they occur.

Relapse is a factor in the action or maintenance stages. Many people who change their behaviour decide for a number of reasons to resume their drug use or return to old patterns of behaviour. Research clearly shows that relapse is the rule rather than the exception.

A note about lapse versus relapse: A lapse is a slip up with a quick return to action or maintenance whereas a relapse is a fullblown return to the original problem behaviour.



Question – Choose a behaviour from your own life that you have changed or attempted to change (related to smoking, exercise, diet, caffeine intake, career direction, etc.) Note down the process you went through using the Stages-of-Change model and record relapses and slip-ups.

Question – What strategies did you use in making that change? For example, did you set yourself short-term and longer-term goals?

What I can offer

If you seriously want change then enter this cycle and stick with it. If you relapse we can work on that but you must want change.

I am qualified in Motivational Interviewing (MI) which is a counselling style interview process with well proven techniques that aims
to help individuals resolve ambivalence around the issue of behaviour change and supports them in making positive choices in their lives.

Let me help you make positive changes in your life once and for all.




Health & fitness coach