Turns out, fitness was simply an empty New Year's pledge. Oh, sure, your intentions were good, but they vanished like a box of chocolates.

Turns out, fitness was simply an empty New Year's pledge. Oh, sure, your intentions were good, but they vanished like a box of chocolates.

Swallow that raspberry cream and swear off dark chocolates for the foreseeable future. No Alfredo sauce, curly fries or pancakes drowned in maple syrup, either. It's past time for the big change you promised.

Citing the Prochaska-DiClemente-Norcross model of gradual change, named for the psychologists who developed it, the American Council on Exercise has crafted its version of the five stages of change to accommodate a fit lifestyle. If you haven't taken a psych class in the past decade, the five stages are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

Sweat and heavy breathing isn't an easy condition to change, but take heart. Even those still wallowing in precontemplation (not even seriously thinking about getting fit) can baby-step to the coveted maintenance stage.

Here are the council's takes on honoring the commitment. We've taken the liberty of adding our own interpretations.

Precontemplation: You are in denial. You are not intending to change anytime soon (that is, within six months). You are unaware of or denying the need for lifestyle change. You're pessimistic, especially about your ability to change or about the real benefits of becoming more active and modifying your diet.

In other words: "Say, are you going to eat that pizza?"

Contemplation: You're considering it. Weighing the costs, effort, treatment and time commitment, you mull joining a fitness or weight-loss program in the near future. This stage is often characterized by ambivalence. You may remain in this stage for months or even years.

In other words: "Right after the Super Bowl, I'm going to start hitting the gym. Make that right after Valentine's Day. You know, Easter isn't that far off "¦"

Preparation: You've made the first move. You've scheduled an appointment with a personal trainer, you've started to limit your consumption of junk food or you have joined a gym and are exercising periodically.

In other words: "What wash cycle do you recommend for my new Danskin workout pants?"

Action: You are changing your behavior. You're going to your yoga class, walking regularly, planning meals and/or keeping a diet record. Unfortunately, during the action stage, you are at greatest risk for relapse.

In other words: "Change the channel to FitTV and bring me two ibuprofen."

Maintenance: You've done it. You have successfully sustained lifestyle modification. You continue to actively use methods to monitor and control your behavior. You may even be avoiding situations that would increase the probability of slips and relapse.

In other words: "Wanna gaze upon my steel-belted abs?"