What does it take to change?

What does it take to change?

We often tell our children about the magical transition of the caterpillar into a butterfly; of how ordinary can transform itself into beautiful in one big leap. It’s the story of the Ugly Duckling and Cinderella. It’s the story behind every diet and New Year gym membership!

Another familiar tale is that of the tortoise and the hare. We want our kids to know that fast and furious doesn’t always win the race; slow and steady has a great deal to offer too. But what are the modern versions of this tale? Slow and steady doesn’t seem to have great press appeal.

The tired executive/bored housewife who takes up the challenge of some or other ultra-race and, to their own surprise, blossoms into a fantastic athlete… this is the modern fairy tale. It’s a story that gives us hope, that inspires, that makes us buy that new pair of running shoes.

We know nature uses lots of different strategies when bringing about change. Both transformative change (the caterpillar/butterfly) and incremental change (the tortoise) are perfectly viable strategies. But the caterpillar can’t do tortoise or vice versa. Nature has worked out which change strategy best suits.

What story do you tell yourself about your body and what you’re capable of? When setting health and/or body goals for yourself, are you expecting to become a butterfly, or are you a tortoise? You want to change and you want the change to be permanent, so where do you start? Should you copy and paste some glossy magazine’s “fairy tale” solution to your life, or should you spend some time considering just what it’s going to take to create your own successful story of change?

My suggestion – based on years of helping people make these transitions – is to go with what suits you. Start though with you – who you are, what you want, what works for you, before deciding which strategy is best.

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Tanya Wyatt, Happy Valley pond

Tanya Wyatt

Tanya has written regularly for various national health and fitness magazines like Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Marie-Claire and Shape (she also served on Shape’s advisory board), as well as for SA  newspaper publications.

In 2003, Tanya wrote two internationally released health and fitness books.

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