Archive for September, 2015

Rider and Elephant pic

“Things do not change; we change.”

Henry David Thorough

The following was sent to me by my daughter Gabi who is one of the most physically fit people I know. It is an excerpt from the book: SWITCH: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. I think it’s an interesting way to look at the factors necessary for behavioral change and can apply to any aspect of your life that affects your finances, your work experience, your relationships, and so on.

In the book, the Heaths explain change occurs by making three things happen. You have to direct the Rider (our rational side), motivate the Elephant (our emotional side), and shape the Path (our environment).

“When it comes to fitness, the Rider, our logical and rational side, knows you have to eat less and move more to lose weight. It knows that a lifetime of unhealthy eating or smoking will lead to unhealthy consequences in the future. It knows you shouldn’t binge or skip your workout. So then, why do we have trouble changing our habits if all this is so obvious?

That’s because the Rider is not in charge of the Elephant, at least not for long. Sheer force and willpower works for a short time, but eventually leads to emotional exhaustion. The Elephant, which is our emotional side, ultimately rules our outcome.

To make lasting change happen, you have to motivate the Elephant by presenting it with evidence that makes it feel something. You have to find the feeling.

These feelings might form from a fear of a heart attack, a desire to be able to play with
grandkids, anger that you can’t fit into your clothes anymore, joy at the thought of finishing a 5k race, or hope that one day you will feel youthful again.

Whatever the reason, you have to personally find your motivation and what drives you if you want to succeed at a permanent fitness lifestyle. Logic and facts will only take you so far. For change to happen, you have to motivate the Elephant by appealing to it with matters of the heart and mind.

Once you do that, the Rider can add direction to where to go.

Finally, lasting change is made easier by shaping the path. The Path is our situation or
environment. Both the people close to us and our surroundings influence the choices we make.

If someone is standing over you pushing you to eat something you don’t want to, it’s going to make it harder to change. If unhealthy food stays in the house, it’s going to be harder to refrain from eating it. If you eat straight from the bag instead of measuring out your food first, it’s going to be easier to overeat.

By changing your environment, you greatly increase your chances of success. It keeps the Elephant’s emotions on track so the Rider’s logic can guide it to its end goal.

Think long and hard about what motivates you to be healthy and fit. Find that intrinsic
feeling that will keep your drive alive. Once you do, creating and maintaining your healthy habits will get a whole lot easier.”
Rider and elephant pic 02
Have a healthy day!


Thank you to my daughter, Gabi, for sending this piece.

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