The 5 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making By Quitting Cold Turkey

Quitting cold turkey is good for some people, but not most


The Five Biggest Mistakes You Make When Quitting Cold Turkey

  1. You’re lying to yourself.
  2. You underestimate the difficulty.
  3. You don’t have a plan
  4. Lack of understanding
  5. You’re thinking short term

 So you’ve decided to quit eating sugars or carbs or fats or meat (or whatever) today, right now, and forever!

 You won’t be beholden to that weakness for another instant!

 Congratulations! ….And maybe you just played yourself.

Quitting cold turkey is good for some people. But in most cases, it’s probably not even necessary.

I mean this in a limited sense. If you’re quitting committing homicides, cold turkey is definitely the way to go.

But here are 5 huge mistakes people make when they quit cold turkey:

 1) You’re lying to yourself. Sure, you say you’re never going to have another soda again. You may even get rid of the cans in your refrigerator right now. But deep down, deeeep dooown, you know you’ll be back on that stuff soon. Have you tried to cut soda out of your diet before, only to end up like our friend here, every time?

Beavis 2 For your mission to have any chance, you must be honest with yourself.

2) You’re underestimating the difficulty. You’re giving up ice cream and cookies for dessert but what about the other people in your house? If your spouse and kids are still going to be enjoying your biggest temptation, that’s going to be really hard on you. You can ask or demand that they quit too but is that fair? What if they refuse? You have to be realistic about how hard it’s going to be.

 3) You don’t have a plan. You’ve been eating fast food every weekday for years and you want to stop. The people at Wendy’s know your order by heart. At this point it’s a deeply ingrained habit. Every day at lunch time you will feel that tugging at you “it’s burger and fries o’clock.” What do you do when your work friends invite you? When you sense that familiar aroma wafting through the office? If you don’t have a plan on how to deal with temptation, you will fail.

 4) Lack of understanding. Is there someone close to you doing the Keto diet and seeing great results? Maybe it’s a cleanse? Or going vegan? Perhaps it’s some other trendy thing? Different tactics will work for different people. You have to have some understanding of what those tactics are and why they’re likely to be successful for you (or not). Hate bacon or eggs? Keto is going to be a round peg in your square hole. Whatever dietary changes you make have to be in line with your situation.

 5) You’re too focused on the short term. Okay so you’re avoiding all sugars besides fruit. Good for you. What happens when it’s your kid’s birthday and grandma hands you a slice of cake? Lots of people see great temporary results from stuff like cutting out all carbs. But in order for the changes to last, it has to be sustainable over the long run.


 Now, this isn’t meant to say that quitting cold turkey never works. That’d be a lie. Just that it sets things up in a way where it’s really easy to fail. It’s binary. You quit soda and slip up and have a soda 3 months from now, it’s easy to feel like you failed.

I wouldn’t personally see it that way but that’s how binary thinking works. Good and evil, failure and success.

In most instances a more nuanced approach works better. Rather than say “no” and “never”, you reduce the things you want to consume less. Replace them with healthier options. When you decide “I’m never having that ever again”, it makes it all the more tempting. We’ve all experienced some form of wanting what you can’t have, right?

 Instead of going from a 2-liter of soda a day to zero, try having only 1 liter of it and increasing your water to match.

Rather than dictating your family can never have cookies and ice cream, you can turn it into a few cookies and a scoop of ice cream on Friday nights. The whole family can enjoy it and you still are eating less.

You don’t have to quit “bad” habits cold turkey. You can if you want to. A more moderate plan will mean longer term adherence for most people. You don’t have to cut everything you enjoy completely out. Enjoying things in moderation allows you the benefits of better health and fitness without the cost of feeling deprived, like you’re missing out.


Inspiration is Overrated

Inspiration and Motivation are Overrated

Inspiration is overrated. Sure, it has value and can be useful. Think back on the last time you felt truly inspired. How long did that inspiration last? What did you do about it? Let’s talk about what inspiration actually is. Oxford defines it thus : the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.

It’s the spark.

At its root, inspiration is a feeling, an emotion. By definition, that means it’s ephemeral. You can feel it very strongly at the moment, but it’s just not going to last. You can harness the feeling to help you. Or it can be like letting your inner 2 year old be in charge. The intensity of the feeling is really strong but is what it’s inspiring you to do actually going to help your long term goals?

Motivation is overrated. Again, let’s define Motivation. It’s the why. There are two types of motivation. The first is external, it comes to you from someone or something else. A parent motivates a child to keep his/her room clean often by threat or promise of reward. Does it work? Perhaps, but again, only for a while. Chances are it won’t be long before the kid requires another dose of motivation. (I swear, I don’t hate kids. Well, not all kids.)

Internal motivation is different. Continuing the example, this would be the type of kid who cleans his/her room on his/her own. Internal motivation comes from (duh) within. It’s hard to cultivate, but it lasts. It’s about setting and living up to your own personal standards.

Being an adult means choosing what you prioritize. No one is going to tell you why it’s important (or for some of us, if it’s important) to keep your living space clean.

Motivation is also emotional. The authority figure promises a reward or a punishment that spurs you to action. The fear of the punishment and the hope for the reward are both emotions. They do have some value, but again, it’s short-lived.

The Internal Motivation is a more deeply-seated emotion because it’s from within you. Something you want will always be a more powerful driver than something someone else wants you to do. However, desire is still a feeling, which means it also waxes and wanes.

Discipline is underrated. This gives us the how. Discipline is the control that results from training. It’s the structure or framework for the actions that will lead us to achieve our goals. Discipline is tied very closely to habits. It’s the willingness to apply the habits consistently over the long term, regardless whether we feel like it or not.

We see right there that discipline is more powerful and more durable than emotion. You do what you need to do, when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not. Think how much you can accomplish this way.

Chances are, you exercise it in some areas of your life already. If you have kids, you bathe, feed, and clothe them daily. Aren’t there days when you don’t feel like it? Yet you do it anyway because it needs to be done.

The good news is that means you know for a fact that you can implement discipline in your life consistently. Now what do you think would happen if you applied it to your fitness goals?

Habits are underrated. This is the what. Put another way, Habits are the summation of all the small behaviors that make up the discipline. These are the actions within the framework of discipline. We all have habits anyway. Think about all the things we do pretty much every day. Most of the things we do each day are things we do so often that we barely think about them. Brushing your teeth in the morning, getting dressed, your path to work.

In the fitness and health context, some of these habits are what time of day you workout, the structure and order of your workouts, and of course, all the foods and drinks we take in.

These aren’t emotional. In fact, when our habits are deeply ingrained, we do them without conscious thought or feeling. You’re not actively thinking, first I pick up the toothbrush, then I take the cap of the toothpaste, etc. You don’t feel, “oh no, if I don’t brush my teeth, they’ll rot!” every time you start the process. (Or maybe you do. Ha.) It’s pretty much autopilot.

Habit are just things we do. This is why it’s so imperative to actively cultivate ones that will help us achieve what we’re really after.

Ideally, you’d use all four of these concepts together to Chase down your goals at top speed. But life is rarely ideal, and when it is, that’s just for a short time. Take full advantage of those times when you’re Inspired and Motivated to use Discipline in your daily Habits.

Discipline and Habits are at the core though. This pair will keep you marching towards your goals when the other two are flagging. They are the most powerful tools we have in order to accomplish our goals.

Thanks for reading. Any questions or comments, please leave them below.