WHY INFORMATION ALONE CAN’T CHANGE OUR HEALTH
How often have you said to yourself, “I know what I should do, but I don’t do it.”
It’s never been more crystal clear than it is today, that information by itself does NOT create change. With access to all the information we need to learn how to engineer a space rocket at the touch of a screen on our phone, we are capable of ANYTHING.
It’s not information we lack… it’s ACTION, it’s practice, it’s failing, it’s learning, it’s achieving, it’s CREATING HABITS we want for sustainable change.
Most of you know HOW to be fit and healthy, and with every New Year, enter into a mindset of “right, this year is going to be different, I’m going to do this, this, and this, every day for the next 40 days and finally get into a healthy routine”, or buy into which ever ‘diet’ is trending at the time and try to stick to all the rules/guidelines its suggest at once.
What’s the commonality here… the underlying factor? For most it’s trying to achieve EVERYTHING AT ONCE, requiring a drastic lifestyle change – one which is often UNDESIRABLE! This approach works for some, some of time, but rarely ever creates lasting change.
Let’s be real with each other, are you really going to exercise 6 days a week, avoid your favourite foods, and miss out on dinners occasions for the rest of your life? If not, what happens after you attempt a nutrition or training regime built simply on chucking information at you, saying what you ‘should’ and ‘should not’ do?
Like most of us, you fall back into your old ways, slowly regain the weight, then come the following New Year, look for the next big thing, thinking THIS time it will be different – enter the yo-yo dieter’s mentality.
If this sounds like you - this is NOT your fault. You have the right intentions, you know you want to improve your health – and even more so – you’re RESILIENT. Many others would have just chucked in the towel and never plucked up the courage to go again – don’t doubt your DETERMINATION, it’s an incredible quality to have and I’m sure is driving success in many areas of your life.
The only question to be asking yourself now when looking at your approach to health is…
How is that working for you?
Self-reflection is powerful (and deserves its own blog post). The point of this question is not to dishearten you (especially if what you are doing is going well), its purpose is to look at what action you have taken, and see whether it’s getting you closer to your goals (objective), also if you are enjoying the process, and if it is something you could do for the long-term (subjective).
If your answer is ‘no’ to any of them, then you maybe it’s time to try something different…
enter a habit-based approach to health
Why do I always preach habits?
Well firstly because I too have tried many different strict dietary or training programs and ended up swinging from one extreme to another just to stay in shape for modelling purposes. Fortunately, your body image may not be tied to your job, but I’m sure you may have experienced a similar journey of sorts.
Only when I was pushing training and diet to the absolute limits, did I ask myself that critical question, “how’s that working for you?”
I became aware of my situation and how close to complete burn-out I was. There was no way I was enjoying the process or even achieving my outcome goal consistently, and realistically I couldn’t keep this approach up.
So for the first time, I looked LONG-TERM, and how I wanted to live life on my terms, what could I do consistently and sustainably to get me where I wanted to be and maintain that for life?
I focused on my outcome goal, and broke it down into behavioral goals – the actions I needed to take consistently – and then I broke them down even further to the point it was SO EASY I couldn’t not achieve them. And even then, I focused on JUST ONE AT A TIME.
That was my goal, anything else was a BONUS - and it’s funny how many more ‘bonuses’ you accomplish when you’re INSPIRED from achieving small actionable goals – Success really does breed success.
Leo Babauta in his book “THE POWER OF LESS” demonstrates this technique perfectly in how to create lasting change through a habit-based approach. No matter what the change was, he found that if he could break it into small, concrete tasks — aka practices — he could do them daily.
BUT there was one condition, he would only focus on ONE practice at a time. By focusing on just one, he found he could be 85% CONSISTENT with it – pretty impressive. The moment he added in another practice, his consistency dropped to 35%, and by three he was barely able to do any of them consistently.
The message is clear, to achieve lasting change that we want, do only ONE small thing at a time aligned to your goal.
If after reading this you want to go back and trail diet no.36, which promises ‘life-changing’ results, first ASK yourself “how’s this approach working for you?”, and secondly don’t expect it to change your life and let you live it on YOUR terms – you’ll most likely be living to the diet’s structure.
REAL CHANGE starts with being CLEAR on your goal, WHY you want to achieve it, and then BREAKING IT DOWN into small, achievable, repeatable, progressive practices that you can focus on…ONE AT A TIME.
Stay Healthy & Happy!
Up Next: WHY HABITS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES
Interested in knowing more about a habit-based approach to health and want support? click here