Bridging the Attitude-Behavior Gap
We know what to do, but do we choose to do it? Photo: marin & freedigitalphotos.net
If knowledge were all it took for people to be healthy and fit, then nearly 70% of America wouldn’t be overweight or obese and I would be out of a job (or at least working much less). But as we’ve all learned, knowing what to do doesn’t automatically translate into doing it. Everyone needs to find their own motivation and desire to take consistent action on their knowledge, while learning from their mistakes. This is how healthy actions become healthy habits that support the lives we all want to live.
In research, getting people to turn knowledge into consistent action is called “bridging the attitude-behavior gap.” To help people bridge this gap, many clinical diet and exercise programs include a behavior-related intervention such as regular meetings with a mental health, nutrition or fitness professional. Interestingly, behavioral-based interventions almost always have better results than knowledge, handouts or pills alone. Studies have shown that both in-person and virtual (email or phone) behavior intervention programs are significantly more effective in getting results. Why? Because ultimately your behavior – your habits – dictate your results and modifying long-term behaviors require taking an objective look at your current situation while developing the motivation to change.
This is where another person’s perspective is extremely useful. All too often we get stuck in our own heads and get bogged down in worry, indecision or even fear of change or failure. Meeting with a fitness or nutrition professional can provide the right jolt needed to get you to start venturing outside the comfort zone of your current routines without feeling overwhelmed by an unrealistic plan.
The best advice you can get from a nutrition or fitness expert will be based on your own lifestyle, preferences and schedule – so your coach should get to know you and your life quite well. What you’re looking for is support (positive motivation and accountability), guidance (learning how to prepare certain foods or perform certain exercises) and useful ideas to craft a plan that’s tailored to you and realistic for you. You’re in the driver’s seat, we’re in the passenger’s seat giving support and directions.
Yet most of the “driving” occurs when the nutrition or fitness professional isn’t in the car – the time between sessions. This is a critical period when the client must take consistent action on the plan they developed during the session. This is when lion’s share of effort happens to turn action into habit. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make that journey a little bit easier?
My Body Tutor
My friend, Adam Gilbert, is doing just that with MyBodyTutor. His health coaching team helps you stay consistent with eating better and exercising, by providing guidance and feedback every day. I don’t know of any other service that offers daily feedback from a health coach – yes, a warm, living human providing support and accountability. Both Adam and I want every pound lost to be one that never comes back.