top of page

Starting a diet? But where to start?

Updated: May 27, 2021

When you come round to the idea of making a change, whether it’s starting a diet or exercise routine, learning a new skill, or applying for a job, there are normally several stages in our thought process and behaviours before you even getting around to making real action towards solidifying change.

You may have already heard of the ’stages of change’ model, of which there are many, the one in particular I am referring to is the trans-theoretical model.

This model suggests that we generally go through 5 different stages before eliciting a meaningful change to our lifestyle, in short, creating a behaviour that sticks.

These five stages are; pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of each stage, but I will outline a brief explanation of each…

  • Pre-contemplation is where we have no intention of making a change in the near future, though we might be aware, to some extent, of what we would like or need to change.

  • Contemplation is further down the thought process where we are seriously thinking about making a change but haven’t made a decision to take action.

We tend to start weighing up the pros and cons to see if our energy and time commitments are going to be worthwhile, 9/10 times they will be, but negative thoughts tend to take priority over our decisions to change.

  • Preparation is the stage in which we have decided to take action, though we aren’t exactly sure how or precisely when, however, it will be in the near future. Firstly we will dip our toes into new behaviours before going all in and being fully committed.

  • Action, the time has come to start making behaviour changes, these can be little amendments to our morning routine, meal choices or small alterations to our home environment, like removing enticing foods from the fridge and freezer.

In the action phase we are putting in time and energy into making permanent change.

It has been said to take anywhere from 1 day to six months before actually entering the action stage.

  • Lastly, the maintenance stage where we have made successful action towards accomplishing our goals though we have to keep making continuous strides forward to prevent any relapse.

At any point we can come out of either stage, moving up or down the list.

In general terms, falling off the wagon, and it should be expected. It is very rare to go through all stages without taking a step backwards, before taking two steps forwards.

What does seem to improve our chances of successfully moving through the five stages is our education, doing our research.

Knowing what the task entails and how best to approach it can help us to set up behaviours and routines which support the process, making it easier to maintain an action once we are able to incorporate it.

How long we stay in the maintenance stage inevitably determines the success of reaching our goals.

Now let’s jump back to the contemplation stage…

So you have decided on your goal and you want to make a positive lifestyle change, for example you want to improve your fitness level and lose roughly a stone in weight.

But for whatever reason you’re not sure where to start or how to set up your diet to achieve your new goal.

It might be that you have never had an interest in sports or exercise before, but your friend or other half has dragged you along to an exercise class and you actually enjoyed it, however you have no clue of what or how to eat alongside it.

It might be that it’s your first time seriously contemplating your health and well-being, whether that is by choice, or like many others you get put into that situation due to bad long term diet and lifestyle choices.

In either case the internet can be your best friend to find out helpful information or an expert to assist you (yours truly), being weary that it can also be your worst enemy if you choose to read or follow information with no backing or expertise behind it.

There is plenty of free advice and materials out there, much like this article and the handy calorie and macronutrient calculator I have put together for you.

The dietary calculator will give you a little helping hand, pointing you in the right direction. It will help you set up a calorie target and macronutrient goals for either fat loss or muscle gain depending on which you want to achieve, providing you with a bi-weekly target and a realistic timescale to achieve your goal.

I have formulated a quick 3 step guide on how to use it with an attached video, it really is simple to use. You can even personalise the results to suit your dietary preference.

If you think this might help you get out of the contemplation and into the action stage, then I would advise giving it ago, what have you got to lose.

Click the link and enter your email to get a copy of my calculator, don’t worry I won’t send you any junk mail, though you might get an odd update here or there. Feel free to unsubscribe at any time.

As always, any questions feel free to drop me a message.

Best of luck


Stages of change: (Martin 2017)


bottom of page