Hastings Chiropractic
An Olympian's Health Letter:
Small Changes Each Day
June 2012
Do you ever feel conflicted with your health protocol?  You know exactly what you should do but you just don't do it?

Lately, I have been reading some interesting material on change psychology. A book that I highly recommend is called "Switch" by Chip and Dan Heath. The Heath's make some assertions that I found provocative; the first is that we are not of one mind.

We have two hemispheres in our brain; the left side is our "rational" brain. It is involved with logic and planning. Our right brain is where our creativity and passion come from. The left side knows we are supposed to exercise, eat our vegetables, and get a good night's sleep. The weakness is in paralysis by analysis. It tends to over think solutions and get caught up in details to the detriment of any action. Our right side is our drive and our passion. If you can get it on board, it's going to power the train. Its' weakness is that it likes comfort and abhors change. It is more interested in the here and now.

The Heath's go further to describe this phenomenon with a metaphor. The metaphor is the rational brain as a rider with a whip, the emotional brain is described as an elephant, and our environment is described as the path. The rider can get the elephant where he wants it to go for a while, but in the end, the elephant goes where it wants.

As a health care practitioner involved with functional medicine, I often find myself "coaching" the rider and not the elephant. This might be informing someone that with high cholesterol and poor body composition they are at an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. The problem is, the rider already knows this, so to change any behavior, it needs a vision of what the end picture should look like, then it needs to script, literally write out, what the first couple of steps need to be. It needs to disregard the middle of the script, as that is apt to change anyway.
For the elephant you need to shrink the change and clear the path. To shrink the change you have to start with very small steps that the elephant doesn't mind doing. You have to build on success and continue small sustainable change to lead to bigger changes. If the elephant achieves success that is a huge motivator. The key is small changes, because just as surely as success leads to more success, failure also leads to more failure. The elephant also needs clear measurable goals. A terrible goal is "I will eat more vegetables" a great goal is "I will eat 1 cup of vegetables with dinner". The first you can't possibly measure. The second is a clear yes or no. 
Another aspect in motivating the elephant is to give it a clear path, or a good environment to succeed.   Problem getting motivated to work out? Pre-pay a trainer. Eating too much sugar? Throw out the cookie jar. Eating too much? Use a smaller plate. These would all be strategies to clear the path.


Does this sound like you? Do big problems make you spin your wheels with inaction? Do you find that you want to make changes in your health but just can't seem to make the changes you know you should? Do you find yourself making decisions that you know are bad but can't seem to shake? Start with a vision of what you want to be.

Come in and do some assessments and we can figure out a strategy to start change. Think small in the beginning but keep the big picture. A path and a plan can motivate an elephant to get it where it needs to go. It can get you where you need to go as well.


Yours in Health,



Dr. Chris Hastings, D.C., I.C.A.K. 

289 Main Street, Burton House 
Norwich, VT 05055 
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