There are Five (5) Stages of Change when trying to get fit and healthy. Change is a process that develops over time and does not occur in one single event. Individuals can go back and forth between stages. The first stage is called the Precontemplation Stage. The individual is not ready to make any immediate changes (that is, in the next six months). Individuals in this stage may be unaware of, or even denying, the need for a lifestyle change. They can be pessimistic that change is possible either through their efforts or through a proven method. They are likely to filter information so that they can continue to justify their unhealthy lifestyle. For example, smokers who understand the health risks but continue smoking are obvious precontemplaters. Another precontemplater is one I see often at gatherings that involve food (birthday parties, BBQs, holidays, etc.). I will often be asked by someone who has found out through casual conversation that I am a fitness trainer how can he lose his gut (while holding a plate with an overstuffed hamburger, a pile of chips, and a large side of potato salad, with a soda in the other hand). I have learned to only spend a few minutes on this topic, giving basic advice such as watching what we eat and exercising regularly. Within a few minutes, I can already tell who is in the Precontemplation Stage. He usually answers by agreeing quickly to the advice, having been told by the wife, the doctor and the best friend but assures that he will do so as soon as things get less stressful at work. In fact, I have interacted with many in this stage, in different social settings, whether in a business networking meeting, at church or at my daughter’s soccer game. You’ve met them; you may even be at this stage. How do you know? Here are some signs: no plans to join a gym, seeing or hearing information about lowering your cholesterol by eating clean but choosing not to or telling yourself you’ll start on Monday, thinking that the stroke or heart attack that happened to your neighbor won’t happen to you. If you’re in this stage, it’s time to think about what is stopping you from making lifestyle changes or what motivates you to make a change.