Many people want to be healthier. Whether they would like more energy, want to feel better, or are just hoping to stick around longer in life, improving their health can help them accomplish many different goals.

In such matters, it’s easy to focus on concrete numbers, such as what your blood pressure is or how many pounds you weigh. However, changing your habits can mean better health. Focusing on lifestyle changes can be far more effective than emphasizing the results. The results you want can come naturally and easily with the right lifestyle changes.

Making a lifestyle change might seem simple enough, but it’s often not. Instead of focusing on losing weight, you might decide to start walking more and eating fewer calories. Both of those should lead to the weight loss that you want, but it’s not as simple as flipping a switch.

In fact, lifestyle changes happen in four different stages:

  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance

Contemplation is a state where you are thinking about a particular lifestyle change that you would like to make. If your goal is weighing less, then you need to do something that contributes towards that goal. Contemplate the possibilities. Do you start counting calories? Do you start running? As you go down the list, you might decide for this example that you want to start running.

Once your decision is made, you then move into the second stage of preparation. For some, that might be just getting up half an hour early and putting on running shoes. However, for most, that might involve freeing up time in their schedule, buying running shoes, and planning out routes to run. Even putting together a playlist to listen to is part of the prep work.

The third stage is actual action. This is when you do get up and go running. Whether you have a mileage or time goal when you start or after you get a feel for it, you’ll eventually have some idea of what ‘enough’ running each day or week looks like.

When you get to the point of ‘enough’ on a regular basis, you are in the final phase of maintenance. Here, you know what you are doing, you like what you are getting, and you don’t want anymore. You also don’t want less, so you find ways to keep moving in a pretty consistent rhythm for steady results.