The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983; Prochaska, DiClemente, & Norcross, 1992) is an integrative, biopsychosocial model to conceptualize the process of intentional behavior change.

To those of you still reading – thanks for being a good sport and humoring me! You probably wonder why would I lead off with that! Well, I came across the article containing the statement above while searching for something interesting about decisions, making changes, stages of physical fitness and that sort of thing. One thing led to another and. . . TTM, the Transtheoretical Model.¹

I think the article resonated with me personally because it discusses the idea of change over time. When you stop to think about it, it should be obvious that changes take place over time, but I think we easily get stuck with (and frustrated or discouraged by) mental pictures of dramatic changes in our fitness or wellness that just. . . suddenly. . . happen. Here’s what I mean.

I start jogging and, in my mind’s eye, I see myself jogging along smoothly and quickly, almost. . . effortlessly. I am smiling. . . Or, I take an exercise class and my mind’s eye sees me doing all the exercises flawlessly, at full intensity, for the full number of reps the coach says. Maybe that happened for you, but MY mind’s eye has delusions of grandeur. I did not start out “great” at any kind of activity, so there is a massive disconnect between my wishful-thinking mental picture and reality. And when I referred earlier to how frustrating or even discouraging that can be, I really meant it. It can be fatal to our attempts to engage in and continue with activities which, in the final analysis, WILL move us toward a state of greater wellness.

The TTM (Transtheoretical model) pulls together thinking about behaviour change from different theoretical vantage points.  It merges those ideas into a coherent view not only of behaviour change, but also of the processes at play in each stage of change. If you want to know why it is so much more difficult to get started in a new wellness activity, this model explains it quite well. In fact, it does such a good job that it deserves more thorough treatment than one short blog post. So, I will finish this post by laying out the five stages of change according to the TTM.  In upcoming blogs, I will drill down into some of the concepts relevant to our purpose here of moving toward greater wellness.

Five Stages of Change (TTM):

1. Pre-contemplation (Not Ready). People do not intend to change in the next six months.

2. Contemplation (Getting Ready). People intend to change in the next six months.

3. Preparation (Ready). People intend to change in the immediate future (within a month).

4. Action. People have made specific changes to their lifestyle within the last six months.

5. Maintenance. People have made specific changes to their lifestyle and are working to prevent relapse.

The Transtheoretical Model sees change as a progression which happens over time. It accounts for how the “decisional balance” between pros and cons shifts as a person progresses from one stage of change to the next. So stay tuned and prepare to have your thinking about personal change challenged. Remember – there are about ten days left before we start the fitness challenge!

¹If you want to read the full article, click here.


Pro-Change Behaviour Systems. (2016). Transtheoretical model (or stages of change) – health behavior change. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from Pro-Change Behaviour Systems,