MAKING A CHANGE
Gradual is best for the most success
by Betsy Collie
How do our bodies respond to change? In order to understand how change affects us, we must define the concept of the SAID principle, also known as Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands: The body always gets better at exactly what it does. While we generally talk about this idea in relation to movement and performance, the brain works the same way with respect to everything we do — or don’t do.
Habits are easy. Our morning ritual is our morning ritual because we don’t have to think about it. We frequent the same stores, take the same routes, buy the same brands and dine at the same restaurants because it’s the path of least resistance. This is precisely why habits are so difficult to break.
We are hard-wired for survival as opposed to performance, which means that we want to conserve energy as much as possible. Making any sort of change requires additional energy; our brains literally burn more glucose when we have to do something out of the ordinary.
So when you decide to go for broke and make several changes at the same time, any unplanned event can easily derail the change you want to make. Your body literally runs out of energy to manage all of these changes and falls back to what it already knows in order to make it through the day.
While it might be frustrating to make changes gradually, it’s a much more realistic approach for guaranteeing success because it requires less energy both emotionally and physically, and it won’t place unrealistic demands on the body. Remember that success breeds success, so it’s better to have several small successes that add up than to take on too much at once, fail, and have to start over.
Here are a few examples of where we often struggle to make changes, and some ways in which to ease into making positive changes.
Getting more sleep
Americans are notoriously sleep-deprived. Accidents related to sleep deprivation have been estimated to have an annual economic impact of $43 billion to $56 billion, and recent studies even indicate a link between chronic sleep deprivation and obesity.
To combat this:
- Create a nighttime ritual, and aim to unplug 30 minutes before bedtime each night.
- Work to standardize your hours of sleep to a consistent amount each night.
- Shift your schedule in 15-minute intervals to work up to between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.
Changing how we eat
Make just one change each week to your eating habits for long-lasting results:
- Cut out a snack.
- Add one vegetable.
- Throw out one trigger food.
- If weight loss is your goal, then count calories for a week. The next week, reduce caloric intake by 100 calories per day.
Eighty-five to 90 percent of people who start a training program quit within the first 90 days, and 85 percent of that group quits due to injury. That’s a lot of false starts, given the amount of people who claim to have a training program in place.
Here’s how to start a training program you can stick with:
- If you simply don't feel like training, then choose something that you enjoy. Research shows that your rate of success is much higher if you choose something you like.
- If time is a problem, then it’s important to realize that you don't have to spend an hour a day in the gym to stay in shape. Look for 10, 15 or 30 minutes to exercise.
- If you’re one of the 85 percent who quits due to injury, then a mobility warm-up can help prevent future injuries. That — combined with starting the first week at no more than 50 percent of what you believe you’re capable of, and remembering to never push into pain — will go a long way toward injury-free training.
Betsy Collie is owner and head kettlebell instructor of Rapid Results Fitness in Durham. The facility, which specializes in group kettlebell training, yoga, joint mobility, ropes and personal training, recently moved into a larger studio near its former location at South Square to accommodate increasing demand. To learn more, call (919) 403-8651 or visit www.rapidresultsfitness.net.