Knowing what to do is only part of the solution when it comes to making healthy choices. Do you ever feel like you know what you're supposed to be doing, but find it's just really hard to stick to your plan? Rest assured, you are not alone.
For almost all of us, there is a gap between what we know we should do and what we actually do. Closing this "brain-behavior gap" is crucial for making progress with your health.
It's hard to stay with the program
Let me tell you about a interesting study that compared 4 different weight loss plans. The researchers looked at how much weight people lost on 4 different plans - Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, and Ornish - and the results were not super impressive. Each group lost about 5 pounds after one year.
But they did something really interesting in this study. Every month, they asked people, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how well did you follow the program?" You can see those results below. You'll notice each group started at about a 7 out of 10, and ended at about a 3 out of 10.
But here's where it gets interesting. Look at the next graph. What you'll see in the green oval on the left is that although the results were not impressive overall, there were people in every group who lost 15 kg or more (that's 33 pounds and up!) I like to think of these folks as the superstars.
On the right you can notice that the superstars typically had an average on the "how well did you follow the program score?" of 6-8 out of 10 over the course of the year.
I believe there are two key messages from this study:
The superstars in this study generally stuck with the program and saw results, but 6-8 out of 10 does not mean they followed it perfectly. There is room for imperfection. That is good news!
It might not the program...
Too often, people focus on finding the "perfect program," giving up when results don't come, and don't focus enough on using a system to actually follow that program consistently (hint, willpower doesn't work - you'll need something stronger).
If you've ever found it hard to stick to your plan, there's a wonderful reward waiting for you when you solve that piece of the puzzle. Great results are waiting for you there.
Dr. Topher Fox