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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stop the Insanity! - A Simple Behavior Change Tip

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  - Albert Einstein

Have you ever heard that quote? I didn't know it was an Einstein quote until just now, and perhaps it doesn't mean quite what I thought it did. No matter. I think it fits very well to the challenges of changing behaviors.

Most of us know the behaviors we should change or want to change. We may know the behaviors we'd like to start in place or our old ones. It's the how to get from one to the other that causes such confusion. And insanity.

Too often I hear how often a patient, acquaintance, or friend has tried to develop healthier habits or to lose weight - to start exercising more or eating less of this, that or the other.

Very often a common theme emerges: insanity. In the Einstein way. They're trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about getting my daughter to eat different fruits & vegetables. I said "Try, try again." I went on to explain how I tried different foods, or the same foods but in different ways.

Occasionally, the same thing in the same way works on a different day. Sometimes not. If you've tried the same thing a few times and not succeeded, you're not a failure -- you need to try something new.

I think a few examples will better illustrate than further explanation:

  • You drink regular sodas and want to cut them out. You try just drinking water. You miss soda, so you go back to drinking it. You try drinking diet soda but don't like how it tastes. How about trying the diet version of a soda you don't drink on a regular basis. I know a few people who couldn't switch from Coke to Diet Coke but could do Diet Dr. Pepper. Mountain Dew fans rarely like Diet Mountain Dew. Maybe you'd like Coke Zero?
  • You want to start exercising. Running seems to be straightforward; lots of people are doing it; maybe you even liked it when you were younger. (Yes, this is me.) But you start, and you. just. don't. like it. So - try a different activity. You don't have to do it in the morning or right after work or over your lunch hour. Try different times, different things.
  • You find out you have high blood pressure and need to cut back on sodium. You try not using the shaker at the table but everything tastes bland. You try the salt substitutes but the Mrs. Dash-types have the pizzazz you want, and the No Salt-types just doesn't taste right. Try using different herbs & spices in your cooking. Try different preparation techniques like roasting vegetables. Try something that's not trying to be salt - like balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." - Thomas Edison

I thought that quote was Einstein. Shows what I know. Maybe it doesn't mean what I thought either.

Bottom line: you don't have to be a genius to change your behavior. You just have to keep trying different things.

1 comment:

  1. Great quotes and I completely agree! I really need to cut back on salt. That is probably my worst dietary habit. Hope you all have a great weekend!!