Changing habits is like Potty Training! (Part 1)

Really? Potty training? I know you’re thinking, “You couldn’t come up with another analogy?” We’ll, I could have, but this is simple and more fun! And it’ll have a fun little twist at the end…..heh heh…..

Think about it for a second. When you are in infant, you go pee-pee and poo-poo 10 times a day and you don’t even have a clue that you’ve done it. Your bodily needs (to include sleep and eating) are only recognized at the time you need them. And by that time, it needs to happen immediately!! In reference to changing behaviors, this is referred to as the “pre-contemplation”. In this stage, we’ve either literally never thought about needing to change a particular behavior or we’ve never thought about it seriously. When I was in this stage, I had zero direction in nutrition. I would wake up, have a humongous bowl of cereal and drink coffee until lunch time (or past). When it was time to feed my kids, I would usually just make extra and eat mindlessly until I was stuffed again. It wasn’t for taste and it definitely was not for performance! It was almost always an after thought.

As a child grows, they soon realize that, “Hmmm…there’s something that doesn’t feel right and I’m going to let mom and dad know about it”. Children discover quickly the discomfort of a dirty/wet diaper. But they have no idea how prevent the issue, nor the desire to change how this is occurring. They do, however recognize that the dirty/wet diaper isn’t something they like or enjoy. This is the “contemplation” stage. There is recognition of changes occurring. This stage, can last anywhere from a moment—to an entire lifetime. What causes this change is different in each person. The thought process is now, “how did I get here? How did I get to this size/weight?” Maybe you’ve been told by your doctor that you have high blood pressure or are Pre-diabetic. Or maybe you went on a trip and realized you can’t keep up with the group because you’re tired and winded. Or it may be a simple as seeing an unflattering picture of yourself. You may have a desire to change your state, but no idea where to begin.

The problem is that many people get stuck here. Contemplating and pondering, pondering and contemplating. Why is that? I believe it is the fear of the unknown. As humans, we oftentimes are more comfortable in our misery than in changing to something more positive simply because our misery is FAMILIAR. If we venture out and try something, there are all the “what ifs”. If we stay put, at least we know what to expect and there are no surprises.

When I help my clients begin looking at their nutrition, the first step is always discovering where they are. What are your eating habits? What types of foods do you enjoy? How many times do you eat a day? Are you a “snacker” or a “3-squares a day” kind of eater? Then I explain that we are going to start with simple and little changes. It could be as simple as trading the sugar in their coffee for a non-calorie sweetener, or perhaps just increasing their water intake by an extra liter a day. Now that’s not too scary is it? Too much too soon usually isn’t a good plan with anything. There should always be a transition phase. Easing into changes, especially nutrition, allows the mind and body to change without really noticing, hence making it far less painful than most realize! And you would be amazed at how such seemingly tiny changes can yield tremendous results over time!

So with this, it is always my hope to move someone out of the contemplative stage into the next! More to follow…..

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