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The Difference of One: A Habit Cascade
February 26, 2021

Have you ever met that one person who encouraged you to make one seemingly small change?

A small change that led to a significant change in your life?

I’m sure we can all think of someone like that – from the teacher who encouraged us to go to college and study in a specific field, to a friend who asked us to participate in an activity that later became our passion.

It’s amazing how even a seemingly inconsequential occurrence can influence the rest of our lives!

Here's how a habit cascade started with one little change. I went to a networking event several years ago where the speaker, Dr. Mikell Parsons, a nutritionist and chiropractor, talked about the negative effects of artificial sweeteners.

She wanted to conduct a little experiment and needed a volunteer who carried artificial sweetener on them. Since I always had a large supply on hand (and had since middle school when the girls started being "weight conscious"), I volunteered. I must admit I’d been using for years, even though the negative health benefits of the little pink packets were well-known by then.

It wasn't painful or terrible, but it was a simple before and after demonstration of what just a taste of that stuff could do. It made me realize that it was making me weak! It made me abundantly aware of the dangers of sugar and sugar substitutes.

Many people had been telling me to give up artificial sweetener but I thought it was helping me not gain weight. Instead, her little experiment was the last, graphic piece of evidence it took to finally convince me to give up, cold turkey, my two-pack-per-glass-of-iced-tea habit immediately.

This simple but powerful demonstration led to one tiny habit change (not adding sweetener packets to my iced tea). That one change led me to eat and drink other things with less artificial and added sugar. That new habit took me away from a sugar-dependent lifestyle. That change helped me to eat healthier overall. Then I lost a considerable amount of weight (AARP Magazine wrote about me here) and it felt fairly easy.

One small change instigated by one person.

One first step towards awareness, leading to one change and then another, until I had a completely different life. That's what I call a "habit cascade."

What one thing could you do today that would take you on a similar journey?

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