As I watched people struggle to try to lose weight or change their diet in order to regain their health, I have observed the 98% rule over and over again: 98% of people who diet will gain back the weight and more. Usually in 6-12 months. I became curious about what it takes to be among the 2% who actually do succeed.

So I started talking to people who had succeeded and those who had failed, experts and regular folks, and I started researching how to make lasting change: I read every book and research study I could find! I discovered that there are several key elements necessary in order for change to occur and to stick; I call them “The Five Secrets of Change.”

While all five are required for most people to make lasting change, you can really begin to move the needle immediately with Change Secret #1. In this first of five parts series on making lasting change, we’re going to focus on making your changes small. You may have heard people talk about small steps before but there is a powerful scientific reason why small is the way to go: successful change has to be small because our brains are actually hard-wired to resist big changes.

Even though we may eally want to make a big change, we feel ready for it and our desire is strong, our brains perceive large changes as stress. The definition of stress is a perceived threat, real or imaginary. It doesn’t matter to the brain if it’s true or if it’s a real threat: the brain sees it the same way in either instance. Our brains will try to protect us and make us feel safe and comfortable again by bringing us back to where we were before, where it felt safe.

It’s actually been seen on MRI scans. Studies have shown that a part of the brain known as the amygdala, which controls our stress response, becomes activated if a patient is asked to make a big change. When scientists suggest something that represents a significant change in behavior or routine, such as losing 10+ pounds or changing jobs, the amygdala fires up and engages. It begins to try to bring you back to homeostasis, or the place where you feel more comfortable, by eliminating the stressor.

When patients were asked to make a smaller change, such as drinking more water or eating out less, the amygdala remained dormant and did not resist. The amygdala did not perceive the smaller goal to be a threat so there was no need to try to interfere and change the behavior.

So when you try a new exercise program and all of a sudden you think maybe I’ll skip the gym today, it’s not about willpower or being weak: your brain may actually be trying to alter your behavior to keep you in the safe comfortable place you were before where it is not stressful.

A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine concluded that participants who made one small, potentially permanent change in either their physical activity or their food choices, lost more than twice as much belly fat, 2 1/2 more inches off their waistlines, and about 4 times more weight than those who tried traditional calorie restriction plans or physical activity guidelines. The successful changes were very small such walking 5 more minutes a day or drinking one less soda per day.

In my audio course launching in January called Finally Make It Happen, we look at how to break down your change goals into small action steps that fit easily into your life. We follow a unique prioritization process to get at where you should start and then we map out how to move forward step by step.

But you don’t have to take my course or wait another day to start making lasting change! You can begin today by choosing a small steps toward your goal and beginning with just one step at a time until it has become a new habit.

Study after study has shown that small changes are the most effective way to achieve long-term success, but we continue to want to take on too much too soon or make big, hard changes to get results faster. We’re setting ourselves up to fail because we cannot outsmart our own brains; they are only trying to keep us safe and comfortable by doing what they think we want.

It may be common sense and you may have heard it before, but as you know, common sense is not always common practice! Making small changes is the first secret to successful lasting change. Choose one small step that you can take today and you’ll be on your way to Finally Make It Happen. You can read about the other 4 secrets to making lasting change at

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You at

Article Photo: courtesy of samuiblue |


In the prior article series, we looked at the 5 secrets of change. (If you missed any of the 5 secrets, you can read them here). These five elements need to be in place no matter what program, product, plan, or diet you follow in order to make lasting change. In my course, Finally Make It Happen, I’ve developed a simple process that incorporates all 5 of the secrets so that you don’t even need to think about it.

You don’t have to take my course to get the benefits though. You can apply those secrets to any program, process or diet plan you decide to pursue. If you apply all 5 elements to your plan, then you can increase your chances of success exponentially. But the reality is, while the five secrets will get you far, they are not enough to ensure you succeed. To reach your goals, fulfill your dreams, and get your to do list done, you need to be able to overcome the five reasons most people fail t get what they want.

The first reason people fail is a lack of clarity: they aren’t clear on what they truly want and they don’t have a clear plan that will work for them to get it. Having a plan that works, that includes all five secrets, will help you avoid failure, because the #1 reason people fail is because they don’t have a plan, or the right kind of a plan, for making change.

It may seem obvious, but it still catches people off guard so many times: knowing what you really want is critical to getting it. If you think you want to lose weight but you don’t realize that you are overeating because you are miserable in your relationship, for example, then a weight loss goal is not going to get you where you want to go.

Then creating the right plan for you that incorporates the five secrets of change: small, effortless, empowered, progressive, and supportive. Most people either fail to plan, which as they say is a plan to fail, or they choose a plan that is way too restrictive to make lasting change. In my audio course, we make a simple easy, customizable step-by-step plan to get you where you want to go and we make sure you are crystal clear on what your REALLY want.

Once you have clarity, we turn to the second reason that most people fail to get what they want: they have what scientists call a belief gap between what they think is possible and what actually is possible. Let’s face it, we have all tried to do something and failed before. Many of us have tried to make lasting change and have not been able to do so. So we have a belief that we can’t do it. This belief may be obvious to you and you may be fully aware of it because you tried and failed so many times before. Often, however, it is subconscious and we don’t even know it exists.

Many of us have what are known as limiting beliefs, or beliefs that we can’t do or have something. These ideas that it’s hopeless, we’re helpless, it’s useless, we’re worthless or blameless (because we choose to make excuses and blame everyone else) are embedded within our subconscious and can sabotage us and set us up for failure. We may not even know that they are there. So how do they get there?

Scientists know that there are actually 5 different brain waves, alpha, delta, beta, gamma, and theta. Up to age 6, our brains are in the theta stage. We are awake, aware and absorbing all. It’s the same stage we go into under hypnosis. But this brain wave, while awake and aware, does not have a filter. So we take in everything and it leaves an indelible impression, yet we don’t question it or assess it in any way. After age 6, we start to question and filter information but prior to that, we just drink it all in.

So if your parents said money is the root of all evil, or change is hard, you will subconsciously believe that. If someone told you that you were not good at something, or you heard something on TV or maybe you overheard people talking about how “that’s” not for them, no matter what “that” might be, all that information was imprinted on your mind and you may not even know that it’s still there. In my course, Finally Make It Happen, we look at conscious beliefs as well as subconscious beliefs and learn how to bust the beliefs that don’t serve us and build new beliefs that do, using the latest cutting edge mind/body techniques.

But there is something you can do right now to start new belief building. Take out a piece of paper and write down all the reason why you CAN do or have something. I am skinny, wealthy, done with my book because… until you have a nice long list! This process creates a turn around in your brain from a negative belief to a positive one and it builds confidence and self-esteem toward reaching your goal. It may seem silly or simple, but this simple shift really refocuses your brain on re-framing “I can’ts” into “I cans” so you can Finally Make It Happen. Science shows that re-framing in this positive way can shift your beliefs and open up more possibility, confidence and success in your life.

The next major reason people fail also has to do with mindset and it is all about motivation mastery. We all have motivations for pursuing our dreams and reaching our goals, but we also know that motivation can fade over time. In my course, Finally Make It Happen, we look at positive and negative motivation and see why both are important. We learn how to harness and master motivation over time. We also look at why science shows that to succeed, you need to unite your left (logical goal-setting) side and your right (emotional, visual, freedom-loving) side of the brain together in the fight to make it happen.

We often focus on the left logical brain and make goals and lists which are effective tools for making progress, but without uniting the right brain along with the left, it’s like trying to run on one leg: you can move forward, but not very quickly and you will get very tired over time. It can be hard to stick with a goal over time, especially if the right “emotional” more immediate gratification side of the brain wants something else in that moment.

That’s when all of a sudden the ice cream is much more important than fitting in your skinny jeans. This is normal and we know this: it happens to everyone. But there are ways to unite the left and right brain to master motivation and make sure these moments are few and far between. We go through a number of techniques in my course, but I can give you one right now that you can use today to help maintain motivation.

When you think about your goal or objective and you focus in on your motivation, try to bring in your right brain by seeing as well as thinking. The brain actually converts words into visual images. When you say the word tree, your mind sees a tree, not the letters. So when you set that goal to lose 10 pounds, see yourself as you will be when you reach that goal. Create pictures in your mind around the end result. See the office you’ll get with your new promotion or the new car you want and picture yourself having it/being it/doing it. It’s important not just to focus on the end result, but also to focus on yourself getting there: see yourself working toward your goal and then reaching it.

Then to ramp it up even more, bring in another right brain element, feeling. Feel what it will feel like to reach that goal and any time you waiver or the ice cream tempts you, see and feel yourself reaching the goal and the temptation will lessen. It’s been proven that when you connect visuals and feelings with your goals, they become much stronger and you can reconnect to your motivation with images and feelings any time you are distracted or tempted or even procrastinating. Take a deep breath and refocus on the images and the feelings; this simple technique will start your motivation mastery and you can build on it from there.

The fourth reason people fail is because they don’t know how to make — or break — habits. There is still a myth out there that new habits take 21 days to form, and that is simply not true. Some habits can be made, or broken, very quickly while others can take months or years to become ingrained. It has a lot to do with again uniting our left and right brains together in the fight so that emotion and logic are partnering to get the job done. You need to know the secrets to making new habits more easily. In my course, Finally Make It Happen, we delve into the 7 most effective habit helpers you can use to make a new healthy habit.

Here’s one habit helper that you can use right now: tie a new behavior to an already established habit. Scientists call it anchoring and it works because this new behavior piggybacks off something that you are already doing without thinking about it. So for example, if you are trying to remember to take your vitamins at night before you sleep, you might put the bottle next to your toothbrush. Since brushing before bed is already automatic, everything you pick up your brush, you’ll see the vitamins and remember to take them.

Now that’s a very simple example and it may be every time you open the refrigerator or turn on the TV, or it may be that you really need to get creative like I did with one of my clients. He really wanted to meditate but he was a busy executive with a large family and could never seem to find time to do it without being interrupted. He’d go in the bedroom to lie down or close his door at work and there would be an emergency or a crisis or a call.

So I looked at other activities in his day, where he is alone and how we could tie meditation in. In the end, I got really creative and decided that every time he got in the car, which was typically to go to work and to come home from work, he took a minute to close his eyes and be quiet. We started small, with one minute and gradually over time it grew to be longer. No one bothered him and he learned that even if he was running late, by still taking that minute or two, he was calmer, clearer and more effective.

He ended up turning off his phone and driving to and from work after his meditation in quiet and stillness and it became his favorite time of day. So whether it’s simple or you have to get really creative, tie your action to something you already do and it will make it easier to create a new habit.

The last reason people fail to reach their goal, achieve their dream or get it done, is that they lack willpower to resist in the moment. Many of us have come to believe we don’t have enough willpower or that we are weak, but that’s simply not true. The truth is that willpower is like a muscle. If you don’t have it, it simply means you haven’t exercised it and if you start to exercise it, it will strengthen and develop over time.

In my course, Finally Make It Happen, we go through 10 exercises to strengthen your willpower and arm you with willpower weapons. I want to leave you with one willpower weapon that you can use today to help banish temptation and stay on track. One of my favorite willpower weapons is what I like to call If/then. And it simply means that if you feel tempted, you will have a plan already in place for what you will do then.

For example, if I am tempted to eat the ice cream, I will close the fridge door and count to ten and see myself in my skinny jeans. If I am tempted to buy yet another pair of brown boots because they are on sale, I will take a walk and remember the beach vacation I am saving for.

Or my personal favorite if then because it relates back to the 5th secret of change, support, if I am tempted then I will call my best buddy who knows how badly I want to reach my goal and she will call me out and question whether I really want to make that choice. It’s a simple technique, but by planning in advance for temptation or possible failure, you can put a plan in place so you know exactly what to do and you’ll be much more likely to overcome the temptation and stick to your goal.

Armed with tools to overcome the 5 reasons most people fail to get what they want, you can get started, keep going, and get it done. No matter what your “it” may be.

Here’s to your success so you can Finally Make It Happen. You can learn more about the Finally Make It Happen course at

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You at

Article Photo: courtesy of renjith krishnan |


This is the last in my 5 part series on the five secrets of change. If you missed any of the previous four, you can find them here. The fifth and final secret of change is support. This may be the most overlooked element of making successful lasting change. There are several reasons why support is crucial.

Most people immediately jump to accountability and it’s true that building a support system will ensure that someone is holding you accountable to your dreams, your goals and your actions. That’s why you have one on ones with your boss to check in on how projects are progressing and that’s why when you write your senior thesis in school you have to meet with an advisor on a regular basis to ensure you continue to progress and have help or support if you are getting stuck.

It’s also why more and more people are hiring coaches, be it health coaches or life coaches. If someone is checking in on you every week and asking you how it’s going, and you know you’re going to have to tell them how you did, it can help you find motivation to keep at it or to resist giving in to short-term desires in lieu of your longer-term goal.

Plus you get the added benefit of the emotional connection with someone else who understands what you are trying to do and you experience the feeling that you are not in it alone. That’s huge because when you are trying to do new things even if it’s not hard or scary, it’s still new and it takes some time and adjustment to get into new routines. Having someone to talk to about it can ease the transition and make it all happen more smoothly.

Another reason why support is crucial though is that we need to celebrate our successes. Often we’ve been beaten down from our past failures and we may have doubts about succeeding this time. In my course, Finally Make It Happen, we look at how to remove those doubts and instill the belief that you CAN succeed. Having doubt is not unusual and having support to remind you of your motivation and cheer you one way you can begin to remove it.

Most of us focus on failures more than successes, so we remember and attach to the negative moments instead of the positive ones. Having support will ensure that you stop and take the time to celebrate each and every success and build on them over time until celebrating your accomplishments and rewarding your success becomes a new way of life.

Study after study has shown that people succeed at a far greater rate if they have support than if they try to go it alone. As I shared in a previous article, I teach in a lot of gyms and I see the fallout rate of new members who join and are gone a few weeks later. Studies have shown that people who join a gym with a buddy are much more likely to still be members a year later. Even if you don’t exercise together or aren’t even at the gym at the same time, signing up with someone else and knowing they’ll ask you if you’ve gone or you have someone to talk to about how it’s going makes you much more likely to stick with it.

A powerful study looked at heart patients who had had a heart attack and were in serious danger of having another potentially fatal attack if they did not make some basic lifestyle changes. One group received a support system, the other did not. In the group that did not, 9 out of 10 patients could not make the basic changes required, even though their lives were at stake.

Often we know exactly what we need to do but we still don’t do it. They say people will continue to make the same choices until the pain of making them finally outweighs the pain of change. But in that study, lives were at stake and people still could not make the changes on their own. Humans are wired for inter-connectivity, companionship and support. If you’re trying to make new habits or reach a big goal, support is absolutely critical for success.

In my course, Finally Make It Happen, I teach you how to create a support system to build accountability , connection, and to learn to celebrate successes. In addition to showing you how to do it on your own, I’ve created a group forum for connection, support and celebration where you can join with other people working toward similar goals and share challenges, advice, support and share victories.

But you don’t need to take my course to build support. Find someone in your life who wants the best for you and will stand by you no matter what. Enlist them to support you on your journey, to be your buddy to share your challenges and to celebrate your successes. And try using another of the willpower weapons you’ll learn about in my course, the If/Then technique.

If/then is a process you can use when you feel tempted to do or not do something that you know is not in your best interest. For example, when you walk by the shoe sale and see another pair of black pumps that look so good even though you are trying to save for your dream vacation… or you come home from work after a tough day and open the freezer and see the ice cream staring back at you.

If that happens, then you plan in advance for what you will do. So if that happens, then I will…. And you create a strategy to employ in that moment. If I am tempted to spend money I will take a deep breath and count to ten and see myself on the beach in Tahiti. If I am tempted to open the ice cream then I will close the freezer door and take a 10 minute walk first.

But my favorite then of all is one that aligns perfectly with change secret #5: support. If I am tempted then I will call my buddy and talk to her first. She will remind me of what I am trying to do, what I am working toward and support me in making a different choice.

So there you have it! Five secrets of change that will help you to Finally Make It Happen, no matter what you “it.” If you want to learn more about my program, you can visit my website at and if you join my mailing list, you’ll receive a free gift and information on the course release. But whether you choose to learn more or not, you can take these five secrets and apply them to any process, program, diet or plan and improve your results dramatically.

Now that you know how to outsmart your brain: just take small effortless steps that work for YOU at the rate or pace that is right for you. Oh and don’t forget to Get support and celebrate your successes along the way!

Lasting change IS possible. I’ve done it, my clients have done it and so can you. Isn’t it time to Finally Make it Happen?

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You at

Article Photo: courtesy of jscreationzs |


The fourth secret of change in my 5 part series of articles on the five secrets of change (if you missed any of the first three secrets you can find them here) is that change needs to be able to be progressive. It is possible to quit something cold turkey and we’ve probably all heard one amazing story of how someone did that. Most of the time there was a life-changing shift or change of circumstances that accompanies it. If you are that motivated and you are able to do it, then congratulations! Go for it! But how many of those stories have you heard?

Most of us cannot make change by simply flipping a switch. We need to build new habits and progress over time. So any program that asks you to go cold turkey on something that you love or do regularly may be successful short-term, but the change won’t stick. Because as soon as you go back to your old ways of doing things, you’ll revert back to the old situation and gain the weight back, start spending again or fall back in front of the tv instead of working on your novel.

I teach indoor cycling and indoor rowing classes so I’m at a gym all year long. And every January I see people come full of enthusiasm, ready to start their exercise plans only to take on too much too soon and be too sore to come back for a week. They may come back one or two more times after that, but each time again, it’s too much and they need time to recover.

It feels hard and overwhelming, they are tired and sore and so they never make it a new habit. I see it over and over again. They need to start small and progress over time, allowing their bodies to adapt and building the new habits that will take over from the old. Just putting on their sneakers every day for a week may be their best start. That may seem ineffective, but if building the habit of getting sneakers on and getting dressed to exercise happens and becomes ingrained, it’s much easier to take the next step toward actually doing it and sticking with it.

Successful change programs give you the ability to progress and make evolutionary changes: in fact it’s the evolutionary changes that bring the revolutionary results.
Evolutionary change is more predictable change: it allows for the brain to prepare for what’s coming and anticipate it so that it doesn’t feel stress. It even allows you to prepare for weak moments and put a plan in place in advance for if they should occur. Anticipating temptation or even failure can cut off destructive actions as well as the guilt we can feel if we go off course.

In my course, Finally Make It Happen, we look at how to make change progressively. So if you want to start an exercise program, we look at what you can realistically fit into your life in terms of time and what works given your current state of wellness, and we create a starting point that is totally doable and feels effortless. That may be 10 reps or it may be putting on your sneakers. We start with what feels effortless and build that habit and then we work on progressing from there gradually over time.

If you want to drink less wine or coffee, we look at setting a goal of ½ a glass or ¼ glass less or whatever feels totally doable to you and then gradually, very gradually, we progress from there. That way you feel in control of your decisions and empowered and over time you can reach your goal without ever feeling deprived.

Hey if you can do it a little faster and progress a little more quickly, great: you don’t need to go that slow! But if something is hard for you or it feels like a big change, slow and steady progression will get you there and let you finally make it happen.

In my course, we also plan in advance for temptation or failure, putting strategies in place so that weak moments can be subverted and if we do go astray, we know we can come right back and carry on: all is not lost and we are not bad or weak. We can overcome our physiology with proven willpower weapons and stay on track.

That’s how my friend Mark lost 50 pounds and kept it off for over ten years: slow progressive changes, evolving over time so it never feels hard or like it’s too much or overwhelming. But you don’t need to wait to take my course to put this change secret into place.

Instead of trying to add an hour of exercise in or giving up ice cream, decide today to move your needle just a tiny bit in the direction you want to go. Even one less bite of ice cream, one extra glass of water or 5-10 minutes walking at lunch is a step in the direction of reaching your goals and fulfilling your dream and once you’re moving, you can continue to progress over time at the right pace for you until you Finally Make It Happen.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You at

Article Photo: courtesy of digitalart |


The third secret of lasting change in my 5 part series on the five serest of change (if you missed the previous secrets, you can find them here) is that you need to be empowered: there has to be some room for you to modify or adjust the process to fit your own needs and life. Research shows that you need to have some control over the steps you are taking or you just won’t stick with it.

Any time someone tells you what to do, what happens? We innately and intuitively rebel. We don’t want to do it, because we want control over our own choices. It’s human nature.

My sister is a physician and she is working in Abu Dhabi and where she is, there is no pork allowed. Every time she comes home, she eats all the pork she can. She will say that before going there, pork was not even on her radar screen: she was never a big fan of pork and could live without bacon. Now when she comes home, she cannot get enough and looks to have pork any time she can!

That’s often how it works with diets when we are told we cannot have something, we just want it more. It has nothing to do with willpower or the lack of it. It’s not about weakness. If we are told we can’t have or do something, invariably, that’s all we think about. It’s called thought suppression theory and it’s been proven over and over again. If we are told not to think about something, it becomes impossible to NOT think about it.

The question was first posed by Dostoyevsky in 1863: how do you stop thinking about a white bear? People told not to think about a white bear while thinking out loud will mention it about once a minute. Now in your normal conversations, how often would you talk about a white bear? But once the idea is planted, the mind attaches to it and we can’t stop thinking about the white bear or the ice cream or the new shoes on sale.

Since Dostoyevsky, there have been many studies on this phenomenon. One of the initial studies by four scientists, Wegner, Schneider, Carter and White in 1987 revealed that when we try to stop a simple thought or task and we succumb to that impulse to stop, a snowballing effect begins. We try and fail and try and fail and the thought becomes increasingly persistent. In fact, studies show that suppression may be the beginning of obsession instead of the other way around. Instead of not doing something it becomes something we cannot stop thinking about.

In my forthcoming course, Finally Make It Happen, we look at how you can make change while staying empowered. So there are no rules, no fixed or mandatory steps. You retain control over the specific actions steps you take and the pace at which you decide to make change so that you never feel that you lack control or decision authority over your own life.

I’ve learned, as I bet you have too, that grapefruit diets or forcing yourself to stop doing something, or even to reverse it and to do something, that isn’t what you want to do, feels hard or doesn’t fit in your lifestyle, is not going to work long-term. Only YOU know the best steps to take and the order and speed with which to take them. So in my course, I help you to identify the right steps for YOU and put a plan in place to keep moving forward and making progress at your own pace. Only you know what’s right and best for you and so you need to be empowered to create the right course of action for YOU.

But you don’t have to wait to take my course to put this secret into action. Any program, process, diet or plan you pursue can be tweaked or modified to fit your lifestyle and your habits. Be empowered to modify any program to fit YOU. If most of it works but one part doesn’t, follow the parts that align with you and either wait to take on the other part until you’ve had some success, or modify it: skip it or do it 3 times a week or every other day instead of every day.

Start with something that feels doable for you and let it evolve over time as you feel ready. It may take some time, but you didn’t get to where you are over night, so why should you think you can undo it that way? Just keep moving forward and it won’t be long until you Finally Make It Happen.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You.

Article Photo: courtesy of Salvatore Vuono |

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