How many times have you started a fitness journey, but after a few weeks (maybe months if you’re lucky) you have resorted back to your old ways?

You aren’t satisfied with your current situation, but the thought of trying AGAIN at another “lifestyle change” or “diet” just sounds like torture!

We know that continued learning is essential to succeed and prosper in life. So, why are we so reluctant to embrace this concept of “life-long learning”?

The answer is that the learning process itself involves some measure of risk and uncertainty.

To understand and overcome this reluctance to learn, we’ve got to understand the learning process.

The Four Stages of Learning


Abraham Maslow, one of the predominant minds in the field of psychology during the 20th century, described a four-stage process that people go through when learning something new.

These four stages are:

1. Unconscious Incompetence

This takes place when you don’t know that you don’t know.

At this point, you haven’t realized that there is something more that you need to learn.

2. Conscious Incompetence *

This is when you realize how much you need to know.

This stage often involves the pain of having so much to learn, as well as the fear that your self-worth might be affected.

It is during the conscious incompetence stage that you must cope with the urge to turn back.

You are trying to learn something new, something that you are not yet proficient in.

This means that your results may be less than you hope for and take longer than what you hoped for, which can causes a lot of stress and can produce emotional pressure to go back to what was comfortable.

* The conscious incompetence stage is the point in the learning cycle where people are most likely to give up. {sound familiar??}

3. Conscious Competence

You know what you know.

You have begun acquiring a new knowledge but are still conscious of the learning process.

The pain of learning is leaving you.

A great example of this is when you begin to feel comfortable choosing balanced meals consistently rather than having to think about what you are eating at each meal.

You’re aware of your decisions surrounding food, but you’re not intimidated by them anymore.

4. Unconscious Competence

This is when you are no longer conscious of the skills or knowledge you have absorbed.

At this stage, you have become so skilled at a particular task that you operate on instinct in performing it.

Things begin to feel like “second nature”. Going to the gym is just something that you do, rather than something you have to FORCE into your schedule.

By the time you reach the unconscious competence stage, you have successfully integrated habits into your life that you were seeking to learn.

You are benefiting from your expanded knowledge and skills base. But don’t let yourself become too comfortable.

If you are committed to continued improvement, you will soon find yourself at the stage of conscious incompetence once again, as you discover there is still something more you can learn.

Continuous improvement and life-long learning are essential to our success.

As you can see, when we understand the four stages of Maslow’s learning cycle, we can eliminate some of the discomfort that comes along with the risk and uncertainty of the learning process.

Action Steps


Think 3 areas of your life and decide which stage you are in.

If you find yourself in stage number 2, I hope this post encourages you to stick it out when you’re feeling defeated.

If you find yourself in number 4, I hope this post encourages you to dig a little deeper and discover an area that will bring you back to stage 1.

This learning cycle is very clear in relation to diet and exercise.

For many of you reading this, you are an educated, determined individual.

You have most likely achieved some level of success in your life, whether is be professional or personal. Yet you can’t seem to conquer this idea of a “lifestyle change” when it comes to health and fitness.

How many fad diets have you tried?

How many 60-90 day challenges have you completed?

Why didn’t you continue on with your healthy choices?

It worked didn’t it? You felt better physically, your energy levels increased, I bet you were more patient and energetic.

So what, today sucked! Start new tomorrow.

How about don’t drink a soda with lunch? Maybe go take the dog for an extra lap around the neighborhood?

Wherever you are on your journey and whatever it is that you decide to do, just do it now.

There will be a point where what you’ve changed becomes easier, stage 4: unconscious competence.

Then, you’ll have the chance to add something new to what you need to learn. That is how lifestyle changes happen. It isn’t overnight and it isn’t easy.

Let us know if you have any questions or want some encouragement and accountability when stage 2 rears it’s ugly head again!

I encourage you to get back on your fitness journey. Start by taking advantage of the Nutrition eCourse below!


Free Nutrition eCourse

Stop relying on the one-size-fits-all type diet and training approaches. Start doing what YOU need.

In this course, you will learn tools to help you not only make food choices, but also help you find a sustainable approach to nutrition that you can continue long term….not just for the next 2-3 weeks until you just HAVE to have that cupcake!! 🙂   (It’s ok, we’ve all been there).