How Slow & Steady Helped Me Win the Race

Take inventory to discover your “why”

look inward to reflect

With an infant's innocence, reflect on the "why" of change.

Guest Post By Ginger Vieira.

We humans are a funny bunch. Even when we’re unsatisfied with something in our life, the idea of proactively changing is overwhelmingly terrifying. We’d rather continue living the life we know, even if it makes us unhappy, even if it means we’ll never reach the goals we’ve always wanted to reach.

On the flip-side though, another way we to tend to sabotage ourselves is by trying to suddenly, instantly, magically become a whole new person with completely new habits and a totally new lifestyle from one day to the next. POOF! Just like that. It’s like we’re just sticking new habits on top of ourselves with duct tape, hoping it’ll stick for good.

That road is all too familiar for most of us: within two weeks you’re back to your same routine. The duct tape wears off.

As a cognitive health coach, I believe that if the changes don’t start from the inside, from the way you think and feel and view yourself and your challenges, those changes will expire within a matter of weeks. Days, even.

As a client of mine recently said about his coaching experience so far, “This time is different, because I’m taking a slow and cautious approach…by planting a seed on the inside and letting it grow, as opposed to adopting a whole lifestyle of new behaviors in one giant swoop.”

Change is scary. Sure. Building habits from the inside out takes time and patience. Sure. But it’s worth it, and it’s actually a much more enjoyable process than continuing to live your life the way you always have, in a way that’s never really led you to the happiness or goal you’re after.

For challenges in your health, we often say things like, “I want to lose weight. I want to go to the gym every day,” but in the first week of your cognitive coaching program, I’m going to ask you, “Why?”

Why is losing that weight really important? More likely than not, it has nothing to do with the scale or looking sexy. Sure, everyone wants to be sexy and fit, but being fit isn’t defined by a certain size or shape, your opinion of fit is different than anyone else’s. At the very core of that goal, what are you after?

When you become a person who treats their body well, makes time to cook healthy food, makes time for the gym every day, and a person who takes the time to take care of themselves…what does that give you?

Sometimes it’s about self-respect. Self-esteem. Being proud of the decisions you are making for yourself. Knowing that you are choosing good things for yourself because you believe you deserve good things. Knowing that you deserve to be healthy. And happy.

When you’re really clear on why those goals are important to you, that may or may not make it less terrifying (because, hey, being happy is terrifying, I suppose), but at the very least, you’re starting with a clear vision of what you really want for your life.

In my own life, I actually have used this coaching method of breaking down an overwhelming goal to help me write my upcoming book, “Your Diabetes Science Experiment.” I had been talking about writing this book for more than a year before I made any progress. I was fed up with my own procrastination and nonsense, and mostly, I was just overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start.

By starting at the beginning, and determining why this book was so important to me, on the inside, is what truly propelled my progress. It wasn’t about writing a book so I could say, “Hey! Look at this, I’m published!”

That’s not motivating! That still makes the book feel like a lot of work.

Instead, I realized that writing and completing this book meant so much to me. I really, truly wanted to help people have more control over their diabetes and more control over how diabetes impacts their day-to-day happiness. I wanted to change lives.

That inspired me.

Before you set out with your New Year’s resolutions or your latest weight-loss scheme, ask yourself why this is important to you. Dig a little deeper. Ask yourself if you really want to change your life?

About the author – Ginger Vieira is a cognitive health coach, personal trainer and diabetes advocate at She’s lived with Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease for over 12 years. As a drug-tested competitive powerlifter, Ginger has set numerous records in the sport with her best lifts of a 308 lb. deadlift, 190 lb. bench press, and a 265 lb. squat.

Photo: Daniel Wildman

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11 Responses to “How Slow & Steady Helped Me Win the Race”

  1. Great post – I’m a big slow and steady gal. I really started from such a poor place in terms of health/wellness. I knew that I couldn’t go from a fast-food-eating-couch-potato to a pillar of health. so I started slowly. Just for today i will eat breakfast. Just for today, I will walk to work. And little by little, I’ve changed. I rarely eat out. I eat lots of veggies. And I get a bunch of minutes of movement in without really trying. It’s been slow and I’m still not where I’d like to be. But by celebrating and honoring the small changes, I’ve really changed so many habits. Thanks again Ginger!
    Kris @Krazy_Kris´s last [type] ..Bacon Wrapped Rumaki Recipe

  2. Todd says:

    I agree. Ginger did a wonderful job on this post. So many times I’ve hurried into change mode without asking why. Upon reflection, often it’s for the wrong reason. The example of the book is perfect. We should do these things for passion–for meaning. Not because we want to be “cool”.

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  4. I. LOVE. THIS. Next week when I get back home I’m going to refer to this in my post. Everyone talks about “Getting in shape for the New Year” and I think it’s time to ask why. It’s like people say it out of habit or obligation. I want to know why. What a great article! Thanks!

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  7. Greg says:

    She’s right on target with this. If you don’t understand your motivations for embarking on a journey to change your life-habits, the odds of success fall drastically. Great reminder!
    Greg´s last [type] ..2010 – A Fitness Review

  8. Todd says:

    @Julie and @Greg, I agree 100%. It’s funny how we don’t often think about why we want to make a certain change. I bet that if we did that more, we wouldn’t waste the effort because it’s not where our passion lives.

    Along with this, would you say that it’s just as important to be able to change directions if we take that inventory after the fact?

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