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Your fitness journey is about so much more than just diet and exercise!  A lot of times we overlook the psychological journey we must take when making the choice to start leading a healthy lifestyle.  The American Council on Exercise (ACE) calls this the “Stages of Change”You have to train your mind before you can train your body.  Take a look at the different psychological stages your mind goes through when making the decision to change:

1. Precontemplation (denial) ~ You know you need to make a change, but you have absolutely no intention of doing it.  Maybe you even make a big show of being “comfortable with who you are” or you make excuses as to why you can’t change.  (Often people stuck in this stage require a major medical scare to finally get moving.)  The good news is if you’re reading this right now, you are probably not in this stage!

2. Contemplation ~ You’re starting to consider the need for a change.  You’ve started reading fitness magazines and following fitness blogs like Skinny Mom. You’ve probably looked into a gym membership. Maybe you’ve picked up a few exercise DVDs or priced out some home fitness equipment.  But you’re not quite ready yet.  This stage can last for months, or even years!  If this is you, may I gently suggest that THIS IS YOUR SIGN TO GET STARTED!! *wink wink*

3. Preparation ~ Woo Hoo!!  Now we’re getting somewhere!  You’re ready…you’ve made the decision to be fit and healthy, your enthusiasm is strong, and you’re ready to go!  You’re armed with new workout clothes, new kicks, a bottle of water, and a plan of action…here we go!

4. Action ~ You’re doing it!  You’re working out, keeping a food journal, and pretty much crushing it!  You feel great…at first.

Changing isn’t easy.  You might start asking yourself what you’ve gotten yourself into?!  Don’t start doubting yourself!  Think about how you feel after you’ve finished a killer workout!  Do you want to feel like that, or do you want to give up and go back to where you were before…out of shape and unhappy?  This decision will be one of the biggest of your life.  This is where you decide you’re worth it!

Once you get past this hurdle of self-doubt, you will be back on the right track!  Your thinking will start to shift, and with focus and determination you will begin to see some amazing results!  You’ve got this!!

5. Maintenance ~ You’re finally where you want to be.  You’ve stuck with it, and you’re at the fitness level you’ve always dreamed of!  Fitness is a way of life now, and not living a healthy lifestyle is no longer an option for you…but this isn’t the end of your journey.

The maintenance stage is ongoing, and it’s easy to get tired psychologically.  Every once in awhile, you may need to take some time off to recharge.  Take a few days to gather your thoughts, meditate on what being fit means to you, and refocus.  Then set some new goals, and get back in the game!

Remember that you will always have mental ups & downs during your fitness journey.  There’s a lot that goes into changing your lifestyle, but it all starts with changing your mind!

Sources: The American Council on Exercise and Loving Fit

Photo Credit: http://www.chatelaine.com/