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 |


In this second part of a 5 part series on the five secrets of change, (if you missed the first secret, you can find it here) we are going to look at the second secret of making lasting change: lasting change has to feel effortless. Because let’s face it: if it’s hard, are you going to do it?

This flies in the face of a lot of what we have been told. That change has to be hard or change IS hard. The truth is, if it feels hard, you will not stay with it. So you need to break down your action steps into small enough pieces that don’t feel hard. (Small can still be hard, so they have to be small but ALSO not feel hard.) Then you can totally fit them into your day, into your life, without creating any stress because as we learned in the last article, stress will engage your amygdala and make it work against you.

Have you ever considered that sometimes, we make big changes with little thought, such as getting married, moving to take on a new job, or having a baby? We can do some of those without fear and even with excitement, but going to the gym feels hard. Why is that? Research shows that we have two parts t our brains: our logical rational side and our emotional intuitive instinctual part. When they are aligned, we make change, even big change, easily. When they are not, and our desire to be fit conflicts with our desire to eat ice cream or sleep in, change is hard.

In those cases, we need to unite the left and right brain so that they don’t resist one another or compete against one another: rather, both sides of our brains support one another in a common goal. Logic and emotion can unite and we can engage positive and negative emotions together to create powerful motivation.

In my forthcoming course, Finally Make It Happen, we look at how to bring both sides of our brains together. We shore up our motivation and focus on the reasons why we want the change, both logical and emotional, the positive and the negative, so they both become drivers, not just one. Then doing something new can feel easy.

We also remove any barriers to the belief that we can do it, whether they are conscious or unconscious. Many of us also have beliefs from childhood that we don’t even know about that can block our efforts. That’s because up until age 6, our brain is in a theta wave state that has no filter. After that, we begin to filter and question what we hear. Until then if we hear that change is hard or we are weak, we can’t tell if that is true or not so we imprint it in our minds as a belief. We may not even know it’s there!

We need both sides of our brains working together and we need to believe that we can do it in order to make it happen. But even without going through my course, you can apply this secret to your change efforts right now. When you are trying to take action, make a new habit or create change, find steps that do not feel hard, steps that feel manageable and doable, even if they seem really small. It’s about starting movement in the right direction, beginning to take action and building new habits slowly over time. Because that’s the only way to make it stick.

In my Finally Make It Happen course, I also share willpower weapons that you can use to take willpower out of the game and help you easily make new habits. I arm you with dozens of tricks and tips you can use to be successful without it feeling hard. I’d like to give you just one small tip that you can use today to help make a new habit more easily: anchor your new habit to something you already do.

For example, they often say that if you have pills to take at night you put them by your toothbrush. That way you won’t forget because you have already anchored the brushing habit into your routine, and every time you do, you’ll see your pills there and remember. That’s a simple and straightforward way of anchoring, but sometimes you have to be more creative.

I had a client who wanted to try to add meditation but could never seem to find the time or remember to do it. So we started with short little 1-3 minute quiet times and we looked for a time in his day when it would fit. But he was a busy executive and everyone wanted his time. At home, his family needed him present for them. So even 1-3 minutes alone with no phone calls or no “Daddy, look!” was hard to find.

So we anchored his quiet times to getting in the car. Every time he got in the car, he would take a couple minutes to clear his head and be quiet, his own meditation. It may seem odd to tie meditation to the car but it was a time when he knew he would be alone and it was something he knew he would do at least twice a day. He could have chosen toothbrush time but was fearful he’d be interrupted by his wife or other distractions at that time. The car idea worked for him.

On his way to and from work, or if he ran an errand at lunch, he took just a couple minutes. Soon he was meditating several times a day regularly and feeling the benefits so much that he decided to carve out larger blocks of time for it. But that was an easy choice then because he really wanted more: he didn’t start with large blocks and force that on himself; he started small and found a way to tie it to something he already did.

If you keep it feeling effortless and take small steps that don’t feel hard, you will progress over time 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 Idea go |

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