I was recently a guest Health Coach on a call-in radio show, and was asked by a listener whether my clients have more success with a “cold turkey” approach to making healthy changes, or by taking small steps toward their health goals. I imagined listeners everywhere, on the edge of their seats, waiting for my proclamation. Are you ready for the answer?
The profound scientific response: it depends.
The problem with one-size-fits all health change models like the newest fad diet craze is that they don’t fit, any more than one-size fits all jeans would. There’s a disclaimer on mutual fund sales literature that reads: past performance is not an indicator of future performance. While that philosophy may be true with investments, it doesn’t really work when it comes to whether you are best to go the route of baby steps or cold turkey.
When it comes to making changes in our lives, the successful strategies we’ve used previously are likely to be the same ones to bring success now. You know better than anyone what has worked for you in the past when you want to change things. Do you jump into the deep end of the pool, or do you wade in? There’s no sense trying to go against your natural inclination. Of course, having said that, if your natural inclination is to do nothing or to go so slowly that change never really happens, you might want to rev it up a notch!
You also have to consider your co-existing habits. For example, what is the truth about your habits when it comes to food, stress relief, exercise and sleep? What is a realistic schedule for change that will stretch you enough to pull you forward, but not be so big that it overwhelms – and then paralyzes – you? Many people who enjoy diving in are also the ones with an all or nothing mentality. The problem with that mentality, of course, is obvious: if they don’t feel ready to dive in, they don’t get off the pool chair.
When creating your goals, be honest with yourself. Dive, or wade in?
Let me know which works best for you!
Until next time,
Wishing you vibrant health and a beautiful day,