I’m sure you want to be well this coming year. Preventing disease is one of the best strategies for maintaining health. Of course you only have so much control, but you can try to alter some factors in your diet and lifestyle. “Wellness” can be defined as the active process of becoming aware of your habits, and making positive changes to impact your well-being.

Before actual behavior change can take place, you have to be ready. Which stage of change you are in?

• Precontemplation. At this point, the individual has not yet acknowledged that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed.

• Contemplation. This stage there is acknowledgment that there is a problem but the person is not yet ready or sure they want to make a change

• Preparation/Determination. This is the ‘getting ready’ stage of change

Change can then begin and be sustained during these stages:

• Action/Willpower. At this stage, the individual is actually changing behavior

• Maintenance. This stage involves maintaining the behavior change.

• Relapse. This is a stage in which a person may return to the older behaviors and abandoning the new changes.

You’ve got to be ready to take real steps toward your ultimate goals. Many of us may spend a lot of time in the contemplation and preparation stages; but thinking about what you need to do, and why you need to do it, is still an important step. Since one stage leads to the next, you may ultimately get to the action stage.

Of course maintenance is often the most difficult area. It is also quite typical for people to go back and forth between each stage while working toward a goal. Ideally, once action is taken, maintenance will take over, and relapse will be avoided.

Changing behavior is difficult, and takes time. Start with a few small steps to get your new year off to a great start!