Sometimes the best way to analyze how the stages of change work is to look at a real life example. In this example, I will tell you a bit about my journey from using whole wheat flour several times per week to a diet that is mostly wheat and gluten-free.
Pre-contemplation is generally easy to understand. I had never considered giving up wheat or going gluten-free. Like most people I thought that using whole wheat flour was much healthier than using white flour.
Right before the Super Bowl I transitioned into the Contemplation stage as I learned more about wheat and gluten from two respected friends. Michelle had shared an article from which I learned that all wheat in the United States is genetically modified. I paid attention as Hazel ordered and asked questions of my friends about the ins and outs of a wheat-free/gluten-free diet. I slowly started making more wheat-free/gluten-free choices as I transitioned into the next stage. This could also include pinning new wheat-free/gluten-free recipes and maybe even trying a few.
I knew I had reached the Preparation stage, when I made a special trip to a new store. On my first visit, I spent a lot of time comparison shopping and reviewing suggestions from friends, but I primarily only purchased a general baking mix. As I have delved deeper into a wheat-free/gluten-free diet, I have left that store with several ingredients, some of which I had to ask for help finding. Determination is not always a separate stage from Preparation, but in this case Determination was evidenced as I slowly started telling people that I was trying not to ingest wheat products. By speaking it out loud, I was admitting my commitment to this change, as wells increasing my commitment.