Change can seem easier when you determine that there is a need for it. For example, if you are in some kind of distress – the desire for relief can make change a welcome task. Then the next challenge is upholding the motivational drive to maintain the new change so it becomes your “new normal” aka a habit. The latter – the whole idea of change maintenance – is what becomes a daunting challenge for most of us. It can be so daunting – the idea of consistently doing new behaviours until they become routine – is enough to not even attempt making the change in the first place (even when it might mean relief from distress).
How many times have you talked yourself out of attempting a new change with the words “it isn’t so bad.”. Even when it comes to an illness like type 2 Diabetes – you may have heard the words from others or heard yourself say them – “Well, diabetes runs in the family so I’ll just have to live with it!” You know – the ‘it’s destiny’ argument. So guess who wins the argument? Status quo wins it again and nothing changes.
This is where the idea of becoming your own researcher can be so valuable. When you take on the role of researcher, you look at change differently. It no longer has to be daunting because it is not a forever prospect. Instead as the researcher of your own problem, you can put time restraints on it. You can decide to do the research for any length of time you want – a few days to a month or even longer. It is totally up to you. You are the researcher so you are in charge. In addition, you decide what problem you want to investigate in order to find solutions to resolve it.
So how does this all work? Well, here is a real life example: my older brother, a type 2 , insulin-dependent diabetic of several years came for a 7 day visit. Day one his blood sugars, through finger-prick testing, ranged from the high teens to the beginning twenties (Canadian blood sugar measurements). They were well beyond the normal, desirable range for blood sugar control despite the use of insulin. So I proposed to my brother, “Would you be willing to eat an oil-free whole plant-based diet that is well -established to be nutritionally safe for the next six days to see what happens? He agreed and to get a baseline before starting a new temporary diet, he weighed himself and took his blood sugar.
The “research” consisted of changing his diet only. He did not choose to change his activity level from his usual routine. His research diet consisted of three meals a day with an evening snack. There was no limitation on his fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains dietary intake. The only change was no animal products (eliminating all animal meats and seafood, including dairy of any kind) or the use of oils (for cooking or in recipes).
What were the results? In six days, his blood sugars registered after a few days as 5.6 to 7.2 through finger prick readings (a big difference from the baseline of 19.4). His sliding scale insulin dosage was safely adjusted according to readings. Six days later, his total weight loss was 6 pounds. He also noticed that he had more physical energy and generally felt better overall. The biggest and most surprising shock for him was how much he liked the food!
If you are wondering if my brother was just being polite – that is not how he operates – he is a very strong and forthright “tells it like it is” person. A side note – my brother is developmentally delayed and finds change to be quite challenging. Food is both a comfort and constant in his life and even he liked what he was eating – often having second helpings! To congratulate him on his “research” we gifted him with a Calgary, Alberta t-shirt which he wears with great pride!
So whether you are contemplating or ready to make a change – try becoming a researcher first. Being a researcher let’s you ‘try on’ change before making the more permanent decision to change your ways. You don’t need to be a “mad scientist” to become a researcher – curiosity is all it takes!