5 Steps To Go From A Couch Potato To A Fitness Maverick
- To become a former couch potato, a shake-up is necessary
- Following a workout regime is about breaking old habits and forming new
- Don't lose sight of your goal - find a regime you like and become a regular
Everyone knows the importance of exercise. Fitness and weight-loss are probably among the most common resolutions being made across the world. They are also probably the most broken resolutions every year.
While everyone acknowledges that some moderate exercise is essential for a healthy life, not many find the motivation to continue with a fitness regime. The challenge is not just physical, but also psychological. This is why it is important to understand our bodies, minds and the eventual repercussions of our decisions. This is what will finally help us make the journey from being a couch potato to a fitness maverick.
The concept of behavioural change has seen a lot of research in the past few years and the trans-theoretical model of behavioural change lists five stages that we are most likely to encounter on such a journey.
Dance and fitness expert Charu Shankar shares some insights on the behavioral change pyramid that supports a higher level of health and well-being.
“If you are someone who is absolutely sure that fitness doesn’t and never will fit into your cosy and comfortable life, you are what we call a pre-contemplative couch potato, which means you are at very bottom of the behaviour change pyramid,” she says.
At this stage, exercise just doesn’t seem relevant to your life and there’s simply no intent to change. Perhaps you are pessimistic about your own ability to exercise or suspicious about its effectiveness, Shankar adds.
And, to get out of this stage and become a former couch potato, a shake-up is necessary.
Here are the five stages of change that you will go through:
Stage 1 – No longer blind to the information:
A common trigger is that visit to the doctor’s office that has revealed some alarming facts about your health. Now you are no longer blind to the information that was always available around you and with that realisation, you’re in Stage 2.
Stage 2 – Contemplation: You may still be ambivalent to making a shift but you are aware that there’s an alternative just around the corner at a nominal cost. All it needs is probably 30 minutes of your time each day.
You may feel that merely thinking about exercise is not that big a deal but the truth is that it’s a massive shift in your mind. Now, all you need is a little push to put you in Stage 3.
Stage 3 – Preparation: This is the point where you decide enough is enough and prepare to get up and change. Pull that calendar out and mark the dates on which you will exercise – strap on those shoes and get to the gym or whatever fitness routine you have chosen.
Following a workout regime is not just about doing the physical work but also about breaking old habits and forming new ones.
Remember not to get intimidated by the thought of exercising as it will hurt the next day.
Don’t regress down the pyramid now. Remember, you are in command so don’t lose sight of your goal. Find a regime you really like and become a regular. Once you have found your groove you are in Stage 4.
Stage 4 – Action Phase: You are really into action mode now and within a few weeks you start seeing results. You also start meal planning and dieting and you have never felt better. However, be careful as this is also the stage where you are more prone to cheating on your regime and relapsing. All it could take is a small trip out of town, a cousin’s wedding or a series of late nights to push you as far back as Stage 1.
So, when you are in the action phase, make sure you continuously find opportunities to remain active. You must actively seek support from your trainer. Once you manage to stick to your regime for more than six months, you are in Stage 5.
Stage 5 – Maintenance: You are now officially part of the exercise ‘maverick community’. Watch out for any signs of staleness or burnout and keep your exercise environment enjoyable and dynamic.
Even when you are at the top of the pyramid, there’s room to fall back to any of the previous stages. So wherever you are on the pyramid, watch out for these barriers and make the right decisions.
We all have pre-conceived notions about healthy lifestyles, disease and exercise, and are constantly evaluating pros and cons. What we don’t realise is that a lot of the barriers we put up in our head are imaginary ones, and it’s quite easy to get around them by making decisional balance sheets.
What is a Decisional Balance Sheet
A decisional balance sheet helps us think about the benefits and disadvantages that we perceive in making changes in our lives. Writing these down as a list of pros and cons can help you make better decisions.
It is advisable to write down the perceived gains on one side – these can include feeling fitter, losing weight, more energy, better sleep. Also, you should write down the strategies that could help you maximise achieving gains like enrolling in a running club, waking up an hour earlier and eating healthy dinners.
And on the other side of the page write about the perceived losses. Most people specially in Stage 1 and 2 usually list out cost, exertion, sweat, muscle soreness, time and boredom, and their cons far outweigh their benefits.
If you find that the cons you have listed out outweigh the pros, then try to find solutions to the listed problems. For instance, EMI payment systems at the gym could minimise the cost component. You need to work on shifting on decisional balance sheets towards climbing the pyramid.
Small decisions really translate into big shifts in our behaviour and climbing up the pyramid of behaviour change is exciting and fulfilling.
Also Read: Lose Weight By Altering Your Eating Schedule