baby steps vs. cold turkey

There is no shortage of advice out there, and most of it contradicts itself.  So what should you do?

Go with what works for you.  Go with what makes sense to you.  And re-evaluate often — what works/makes sense might change over time.

When I started my journey into the realm of the healthy, there were two things not standard about my diet: I didn’t drink soda and I had stopped eating beef a couple of years prior.

I ate a lot of crap.  At that point, it was baby steps.  Ice cream once per day.  Then not buying chips for home consumption.  Over the course of ten years, that has gradually changed into very few sweets, lots of produce, no HFCS, no artificial sweeteners, vegetarian.  Some of those jumps — like poultry/seafood eating to vegetarian — were cold turkey, but the majority of my work has been incremental.

When I started going to the gym, I took a book and rode a bike and read for 45 minutes.  Then I did some group fitness classes.  Then I started weight lifting and playing racquetball.  Then one day it was really nice out and I didn’t want to exercise in the gym but the only thing I could do outside was jog, so I went for a jog.  Over the course of the same ten years, I’ve become a triathlete, am moderately fit and strong, and love exercising.

But your personality might not be like mine.  Your life circumstances might not be like mine.

The problem with going cold turkey is that it’s easy, with one slip-up, to declare failure and give up.  Also, with going cold turkey, many people tend to spend a lot of energy thinking about the thing that they have decided not to have any more … which makes it harder to stick to it and wastes a lot of mental energy.

The problem with doing things in baby steps is that you need to keep stepping — it’s not once-and-done.  It’s also easier for many to justify taking a step (or two or four) back.

Which plan you decide to take might also depend on what area of your life you’re changing, what the circumstances are that prompted the change, who else is affected, etc.  There are a lot of factors.

I would say: don’t over-think it.  Pick something manageable and go after it.  You can always adjust while you’re on the course.

How do you prefer your change: baby steps or cold turkey?

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2 responses to this post.

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