“Thank you for not passing judgment on me for not doing exactly what I said I would.” This comment (made by a client) took me a bit by surprise, because my honest reaction is always, “Why would I do that, and how would that help you?” If everyone always complied 100% with their intended lifestyle change goals, I would be out of a job. In fact, people cannot be programmed like machines to perform exactly as planned, and I would not envy anyone who complied so strictly to an eating plan that they never allowed for any exceptions in the interest of pleasure.
I am still amazed at how often someone will tell me that they almost cancelled an appointment because they “didn’t follow the plan.” It is so much more important to focus on movement in a positive direction (what you can actually DO), not just to focus on a goal (the outcome) – yours or anyone else’s goal for you.
So . . . what is your ability to change NOW . . . honestly, not what you WISH you could change now. I notice that once momentum starts, positive feelings and confidence are likely to keep it going, regardless of how small the changes may seem at first. If you are not willing to cut back on chocolate now, does that necessarily mean that you will never willingly be able to do that? I see people become more willing once they can see the possibilities. It just seems too overwhelming for many (arguably most) people to do a major life overhaul all at once.
Here’s another example. A young woman once called me to set up an appointment to help change some habits. Her doctor had told her she needed to “cut way back” on meat and chocolate. Her comments to me made it clear that these changes were not going to happen all at once. In fact, she said that the minute she heard this, all she could think about was meat and chocolate. “If there had been any chocolate in the house, I would have eaten it all.”
I believe that everyone needs to feel in control of their food choices. I prefer to keep the focus on what is likely to create the best outcome. If a person thinks they have to eliminate most or all of a food they love, panic is likely, in addition to just a little (or maybe a lot!) of resistance to being pushed so hard. It is not unusual for someone in this situation to eat just as much, if not more, of that food – preoccupation with what’s missing is a bad formula for success! It is actually a formula for being stuck, ie. no momentum forward. Let’s consider a positive alternative. With an honest and thoughtful choice, movement in a positive direction is much more likely. The speed is less important – it is the movement that gets it rolling.
Even small changes add up to big results in terms of better health. At the risk of being repetitive – MOMENTUM IS KEY! What will give you the best outcome based on your abilities and motivation now? Dreams of what you could do or would do if only . . . do not really help. Keep the forward movement going. Slow or fast, without movement, how can change happen?!