There are essentially two approaches to behavior modification from a weight loss standpoint. They are analogous to the two methods used when jumping into a cold swimming pool, namely:
1) The “toe” method,
where you drop your various bits of anatomy in by the smallest amount possible, slowly but surely, until your entire body is immersed (typically several hours later),
2) The “ocean of daggers” method,
where you throw all caution to the wind and exchange the unpleasant sensation of a thousand tiny freezing daggers attacking your entire body for a few seconds for the immediacy of getting into the water.
To each his own, I suppose. I’ve found in my experience that, given the choice, most people will opt to get into a fat loss program slowly rather than experience total immersion. That is, that they prefer to tackle one thing at a time rather than make large, grand, sweeping changes across the board.
I personally thought that this was the best way to go about things since the individuals you see that are the most fired up about starting a program are the ones that flame out the soonest. Better to take things slowly and steadily, to insure that the changes made are lasting.
However (surprisingly), I found this not to be the case. In fact, while compliance may be slightly higher, success tends to be more elusive with the “one little thing at a time” method, vs. “change your whole life, and do it yesterday.” I’ve wondered why this is, and here are the reasons I’ve come up with:
1) Making one little change at a time, while a more comfortable method of transition, takes too long to deliver tangible results, so motivation to continue wanes.
2) You put all your eggs in one basket – if you initate 55 changes in your lifestyle but fail to follow through on 10 of them, then you’ve still made a whole lot of changes for the better. However, if you make only one change and fail to follow through on it, well…
3) People take massive changes more seriously than little ones. The very thing that makes the “one little thing” method so much more pleasant (that you probably won’t feel the difference changing one thing makes) works against it. It’s so easy to forget about the “one little thing”, since it’s the only aspect of your life that is different. Whereas, if one intends to overhaul their entire life, well, that’s not something you’ll forget about.
That takes us to the crux of the matter – that it is just as easy (or difficult) to make little, piecemeal changes as it is huge, tremendous changes, because both entail a change in mindset. One has to consciously decide that “this is the plan of action I intend to take” (which is why goal-setting is the at the heart of every single ‘be a success’ self-improvement regimen). The changes themselves are not the stumbling blocks to progress, the change in mindset is.
If you believe you will be overfat, then you will be. Henry Ford famously quipped, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
Now, don’t think you need to go back to school and get a PhD in psychology to optimize fat loss. You just need to do “One Little Thing” – take action, ASAP, right now, if possible. Set or review your goals, follow your action plans (for intelligent exercise and proper nutrition), and keep up the good work!