Stage 1: from hopeless to hopeful

Around 2008 to 2014, I weighed the most I ever had. I felt tired all the time. When I looked in the mirror, my face didn’t look like mine. I had shoulder pain that prevented me from reaching the top shelf in my kitchen, or picking up my purse if it was on my right side. (Shots, physical therapy, and kinesiology treatments hadn’t helped.) Also, my brain was foggy: All. The. Time.

Jana in 2010
This is me on vacation in 2010. I’m smiling (sort of), but do I look happy? No, I do not.

I had lost weight and gained it back several times in the previous two decades, so I was feeling pretty hopeless about the prospect of trying again. Why try, when failure seems like the most likely result? I was ready to resign to being tired, achy, and 30 pounds overweight for the rest of my life.


This is typical when people are in Stage 1. Whether because of past failures, current overwhelm, or not knowing where to start, we feel helpless to change. Hope may feel out of reach.

But when I got desperate enough to try one more time, I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. I sought outside help. I stumbled my way to feeling hopeful, and that got me just enough momentum to start learning new ways and new information that propelled me forward.

What I “lucked into,” I later discovered, researchers have identified as the first stage of change. They call it precontemplation.

I call it from hopeless to hopeful.

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About this stage

What happens during this stage: You find ways to move from discouragement or hopelessness to a place where you’re willing to take some first steps — even if you still feel ambivalent or fearful. You discover positives that make you hopeful about moving forward: new nutrition info that changes your perspective, or a vision of new possibilities that could open when you have more energy and less pain.

The tools: Researchers have identified a few things that are especially helpful for moving forward through Stage 1.

  • Increasing your knowledge of up-to-date health facts.
  • Increasing your awareness of your own true state of health.
  • Examining where your current path might lead you.
  • Tapping into your emotions. For example, watching movies or reading books that provide a cautionary or inspiring story of someone who started where you are now.
  • Finding your true motivation: the thing(s) that really matter to you, enough for you to go through discomfort if that’s what it takes to make it happen. Not just to drop a size, or look better poolside, but the thing that really wakes up your heart, and makes you sit up and say, “Yes!”

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Here are a few resources on this site to get you started:

[Articles to come: counting calories is no way to live, the truth about fat, why some foods are so addictive, but what’s my motivation {bigger yes}.]

Books I recommend

Movies I recommend

Other Stage 1 articles.

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Want more personal help?

I also offer private online support. Learn mort about my support sessions — there’s one especially for Stage 1!