Create a Credible Threat

I have a short story to tell you….

I love raw plant-based food…..and I also love cheese and wine and bread (and pizza and ice cream and chocolate…).  One time, a woman told me that she’d love to be the type of person who craves an apple for dessert.  Me too!  I have visions of myself eating perfectly and working out everyday.  I’m convinced that the small health issues I have would be addressed if I achieved this “perfect” lifestyle.


In everyday moments, when I’m surrounded by food and drink and friends who don’t share my vision, it’s easy to not stick to a plan and put my perfect lifestyle off till later.  I can justify and be in denial about most things.  I’ve always believed in the idea of credible threats—where you have something that creates an external situation where the consequences are “threatening” enough to you to make you stick to a plan.  Think of the girl who is planning her wedding and loses weight, or the pregnant woman who gives up smoking…a looming bikini vacation or a high school reunion.

The funny thing is that you can’t pick what is going to be a credible threat! Many people talk to me about how last time they had a high school reunion, they lost 20 pounds, and this time they thought it would work again and they didn’t do anything at all. I’ve experienced this myself (not the reunion thing, I’ve only had one!).

I have a friend, Petra, who is very goal-driven.  She can create credible threats for herself at any time, and often does this each month to try new things and reach new goals.  I like that!  I try it too, and sometimes I stick to my plans and sometimes I don’t.

Long story short, I got a new credible threat!  My cousin, Kristen, is turning 30 and I’m going to her birthday party in LA in a few weeks.  It will be a short trip, Friday night through Sunday, but long enough for me to know that I need to step it up a little.  Not that I care too much about fitting in, but I also know that here in Rochester (for my entire life, at least), we’ve been about 6 months to a year behind LA in … everything regarding trends.  I want to be super-healthy and feeling good when I go.

I do want to be super-healthy and feeling good all the time, but I’m going to use this little trip as an external push to get me to focus.  It helps that Joe wants to do another juice weekend, and won’t be eating pizza in front of me (his current credible threat is to shave a couple minutes off his half-marathon time before the Flower City Half-Marathon this spring).

The point is, there’s no magic formula for what will be a credible threat for you—what will make you take action instead of just talking about what you wish you’d do. But you can keep trying to find new ones until one sticks (and then when that one’s complete, find a new one!).

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