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My Personal Quest to Understand How to Really Change Behavior

24 Days Into the New Year and Still on the Whole 30 Diet

As a marketing and communications expert, I have spent over thirty years trying to help clients  to shape and change the behaviors of their own clients and their prospects. For example, do you know how hard it is to convince a consumer to switch their checking account to a new bank?  Research has shown that many consumers are somewhat dissatisfied with their retail bank and their checking account – but 70% of the complainers, who are paying $10 to $25 per month in checking account fees, won’t take a competitor up on an offer to switch – even when offered $200 or more to do so. Why? Fixed behaviors and a resistance to change.

The New Year is when people are in goal-setting mode. They want to save more, stress less, exercise more, lose weight or better their lives in some new way. Unfortunately, most of us fail to sustain the behavior change required to accomplish those goals and integrate them into daily life. Old habits and ways of doing life don’t change easily – and that goes for me too.

For years, I have known that I could eat better – but I have some loves that I love too much.  These include cheese and crackers before dinner, usually with a glass of red or white, and a couple of pieces of dark chocolate after dinner. Plus, I consider myself a hunter-snacker. That mid-afternoon ritual of feeding the sugar crash that often hits me two hours after a high-carb lunch. Where did I hide those peanut M&Ms? My doctor has told me that my dairy, sugar and wine addictions are not good for my waistline or my heart. He also said that the resulting inflammation from some of my dietary choices (or guilty pleasures) could put excess stress on my organs and my joints. So, if I want to increase my chances for a healthier and longer life, I need to change.

My current behavior change began with a confession. I told my wife, Jan, that I need help. I needed a program and a plan. Around this same time, we learned that a couple of other family members were going on the Whole 30 diet starting January 2nd. This diet seemed daunting to me – no dairy, no processed foods, no grains or cereals, no beans or legumes, and no alcohol. I had to contemplate saying goodbye to pasta and Italian bread – for at least for a month. Ouch! But, after years of putting off a much-needed behavior change in my diet, I decided to go all in by teaming up and doing it together with my wife and family.

After three weeks, I am down about eight pounds. I also feel better, sleep better and have more energy. No mid-afternoon sugar crashes. I did have some headaches and lethargy in the first few days, but I was told I was cleansing my body from sugar addiction and that this would pass. It did, and now I am reaping the benefits.

I am not sharing this to endorse Whole 30, or any diet, but to endorse the idea that changing your behavior is a lot easier when doing it as part of a supportive group with a shared goal. In my family’s case, we are exchanging new recipes, rating meals and even sharing a few meals together. Knowing that others are doing this enables me to stick to the program. The real question is – can I sustain this after the thirty days are over?

Next week, we will talk more about behavior change and exploring models that work to address some of humanity’s most pressing and persistent problems – and what this means for business.


Marketing Agency Blog Post Author of My Personal Quest to Understand How to Really Change Behavior

January 24, 2019
Written by Tom Sullivan

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