Why does change has to be so damn hard?
I see people with a desire to improve their eating habits, lose a few extra pounds and regain some vitality. Some people seek out a nutritionist for weight loss because they have no idea of where to start. Carbs? Fats? Protein?
But typically people know what to do. Eliminate the sugar; forget about processed foods; eat fruits and veggies. Some individuals can promptly name all different types of diets as if they were being quizzed on it. They might as well have a PhD in successes and failures in dieting their way through that nice pair of jeans. They could even teach me a thing or two. So why do people seek out professional advice?
Because individuals need accountability.
They need someone to guide them through the journey despite them knowing their way around. Most importantly, they need someone who will cheer them and remind them the journey to the finish line is composed of small successes accomplished along the way. A nutritionist’s job is to essentially ensure that these small successes are diligently accomplished and acknowledged.
It’s human nature. If your house is in desperate need of cleaning and you have people coming over, you’re more likely to get off your butt and clean the house. Conversely, if you’re not expecting anyone you’ll probably rationalize about how the cleaning can wait – it’s not that dirty.
Another powerful motivator is the need for acknowledgment. We are generally eager to share our successes and annoyed, if not mortified, about having to explain our failures. So when we know we are being “monitored” we’re motivated to take the necessary steps to achieve our goal.
Besides, listening to our own excuses can be excruciatingly painful so we’ll likely avoid putting ourselves in that position.
Another crucial element to successful change is the ability to show kindness towards oneself. But here’s the caveat: we’re usually not as kind with ourselves as we are with others. In fact we tend to be highly self-critical when the eventual failures greet us along the way (thus putting in jeopardy all progress made).
That’s why being held accountable by a professional or even a friend or a loved one can improve chances of success because (hopefully) they’ll show you some kindness and compassion when needed. And trust me, sooner or later it will be needed.
We are not flawless beings and we err many times until we get it right. That’s a fundamental part of the learning process and the unpaved road to success. But in order to make it to the finish line, we need those cheerful claps and verbal encouragements as we go – and the eventual display of kindness when we stumble or fall.