Ep #168

Why It's So Hard to Convert Good Intentions into Action with Monica Reinagel

alcoholic minimalist podcast

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In this special spring break episode, Molly discusses the upcoming Alcohol Awareness Month and previews a workshop on bone health. She also shares an episode from the Change Academy Podcast featuring Monica Reinagel, who discusses the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA) model for behavior change. This model consists of three pillars: self-efficacy, self-regulation, and planning, each with sub-elements. Molly relates these pillars to her own Peace and Power Framework, which focuses on building confidence, self-regulation, and planning for success and setbacks in changing drinking habits.

Throughout the podcast, Molly encourages listeners to take action towards changing their relationship with alcohol, offering support and resources to help them along the way.


Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking, and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habits. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well, hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from let’s call it a rebounding Oregon. Did you get that? It’s like March Madness week, rebounding, Oregon, and it’s rebounding in terms of the weather. It’s been rainy, rainy, rainy, the last weekend, but I see better days on the horizon. And as we get towards next weekend, there’s more sunshine, warmer temperatures. So we’re definitely rebounding right. Hey, it’s a special spring break episode this week. It’s the last week of March here in Oregon. That means it’s spring break. And now granted, I don’t have school aged kids anymore. So Spring Break isn’t quite as real for me as it used to be. But I decided to take a break from regular content this week, really because I’m getting ready for a month long series for April. April is April, April is Alcohol Awareness Month. It’s something that started back in 1987. It was a public health program organized by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. It was really all about increasing outreach and education regarding the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol. It was started with the intention of targeting college aged students who might be drinking too much as part of their newfound freedom. And since then, it’s become a national movement to draw more attention to the causes and effects of alcoholism as well as to help families and communities deal with drinking problems. That’s what Alcohol Awareness Month is all about on a national basis. So although I don’t want to spend a whole month talking about alcohol abuse, misuse, and all the inherent dangers of over drinking, I do want to spend the month focusing on awareness, specifically on the benefits and the benefits of minimizing alcohol and why those of those of those who drink regularly, those who feel stuck in a daily drinking habit have so much to gain from reducing alcohol, and why I believe for many people, changing their drinking habits is really the key to living their very best lives. So starting next week, the Alcohol Awareness Month series will kick off with three myths about alcohol that you need to stop believing. All right, that will be week number one in April, three myths about alcohol that you need to stop believing. So I’m getting ready for that. And in the interim this week, I have a special treat for you. I’m sharing an episode from the change Academy podcast with our friend of this show. Monica Rai Nagle. This is a great episode and when I heard it originally, I thought with all due modesty, I will say that it is exactly what I believe with regard to sustainable behavior change as it applies to alcohol. And I know that it works what what alcohol what this approach that Monica talks about in this episode, because it’s exactly what I did to change my decade’s long daily drinking habit. And it’s how I maintain my alcohol, minimalist lifestyle without any fear of regressing or going back to daily drinking. Now what Monica is sharing is called To the health action process approach, or the moniker Hapa approach, you’ll hear her describe the three pillars of the Hapa approach, again, health action process approach, as well as some sub elements of each of them. And honestly, I’ve read some of the research papers and studies associated with this, with this process with this model that was developed by Dr. Benjamin Schwarzer. And Monique is synopsis is really the clearest and most succinct, you’re going to find, I’ve think, so she shares some examples that clarify each part. And I believe you’ll be able to extrapolate how these apply to changing your drinking habits. No, no worries either way. I’m going to jump back on after the episode and illustrate what I mean with regards to both the peace and power framework and the part at and the work that we do to become alcohol minimalists. The episode is called why it’s so hard to convert good intentions into action. And again, it’s from the change Academy podcast. And one more thing before we dive in, Monica is actually doing a really great workshop on Saturday, April 13, at 8am Pacific 11am. Eastern called stronger bones, practical strategies for lifelong bone health. And it’s a combination of nutrition and exercise from two experts Monica being one with practical real world strategies for an incredibly important topic of joining in because it’s vitally important to me really for most women of a certain age, right? Really, for anyone who is overdrinking, it’s also incredibly important. People who drink heavily are more likely to develop osteoporosis. And in 2022, a large meta analysis study, looking at 19 Different studies exploring the relationship between alcohol and osteoporosis gave some more insights. It noted several reasons for the link between heavy alcohol use and osteoporosis, namely, excessive alcohol can prevent calcium and vitamin D absorption. And to create new bone cells, your body needs calcium. So vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and alcohol may interfere with your body’s ability to process these nutrients which can impact your bone health. Heavy drinking also causes hormone deficiencies, both testosterone and estrogen play an important role in bone health. And excessive drinking can cause people to produce less both of both of these hormones. One of the biggest things, how you can fall more when you’re intoxicated. And alcohol can directly lead to bone fractures, because it may cause you to fall. And this is especially concerning for older adults who are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Obviously, I know I’m I’m connecting dots here. And I’m not saying that that it’s a concern based on the the you know, we don’t have it’s observational data, we don’t have a direct link between excessive drinking and osteoporosis. However, it is something that could be the amount of alcohol that you’re drinking could be impacting your, how you look for developing that. And wouldn’t it be great to have some strategies and practical tools to help you offset and prevent and get prepared for lifelong bone health. The way to sign up for that is to go to nutrition over easy.com/stronger-bones-workshop Stronger dash bones dot dash workshop, and I’m gonna link that in the show notes. It’s $29 super great value. And again, it’s happening on April 13 at 8am Pacific. So check it out. Without further ado, here is my friend Monica Ray Nagel and the Chang Academy podcast, why it’s so hard to convert good intentions into action. I’ll be back at the end to chat. The
statistics are while there is familiar as they are pathetic 50% of all of those people who resolved to start working out have given up within six weeks. And you know what, the dieters don’t even make it anywhere near that long. And this is what is known in the social science literature. As the intention behavior gap. It’s actually an official term phrase. There’s a whole body of research literature on the intention behavior gap. And in this episode, I want to share with you some of the Insight And the findings from this research that I was just sharing at the conference, so that you can put them into practice in your own life and work. And you’ll probably want to grab something to take some notes with, we’re going to be putting the academy in change Academy in this episode. But before we jump into the intention behavior gap, I want to talk about another really interesting gap. And that is the one between what people think is getting in their way, and what actually is getting in their way. So the international food and information Council does a survey every year of consumer beliefs and attitudes around food and nutrition. And in one of these surveys, they asked people, what is getting in the way of you making good on your good intentions? And what did they say? lack of willpower, lack of time, lack of money? Those are the top three answers. The Harris polling group did a similar survey, except their question was what is keeping you from making good on your fitness goals. And the people in that survey said, the workouts were too difficult. Or I stopped and then once I stopped, I couldn’t get restarted again. Or I just didn’t have enough time. We’ve all heard these excuses. We’ve probably made these excuses ourselves. These are the reasons that we’ve all been trained to accept as true. And so we actually spend a lot of time troubleshooting and problem solving these problems, when they may actually not be the true thing that is getting in our way. So what does science have to say about this? A group of Dutch researchers recently did a meta analysis of 67 different behavior intervention studies, to see if they could suss out which factors predicted success. And in this case, they were looking at interventions that were working on weight management, they were defining success as as long term weight loss of maintenance. So guess what did not predict success, willpower, the amount of stress in people’s lives, socio economic status, the money that they had to throw at the problem, these things did not statistically predict whether these people succeeded and reached their goals. So what did matter, having some way of monitoring their progress, because we cannot manage what we don’t measure. This was a very strong predictor of success. Another thing was habit formation, their success in adopting small healthy habits, like choosing more fruits and vegetables, like being a little bit more active throughout the day, exercising some portion control, those were the things that actually predicted success, and not their ability to stick to some really strict regimen. And then finally, their mindset. And this included things like their confidence in the ability to make a change, clarity on their goals and their strategies. And also a feeling of positive self worth, that they were worth the effort, because we cannot hate ourselves healthy, right. So these are the things that actually predict success in our ability to convert our good intentions into healthy habits. And these findings map perfectly onto a model of behavior change known as the health action process approach. So now we’re getting into the science. This model was proposed by Ralph Schwarzer of the Free University of Berlin back in 2005. And since then, he’s collaborated with a lot of other researchers to test and validate and build on this model of behavior change. Got your notepad out, okay, there are three pillars to this model, three pillars that bear up our ability to close the intention, behavior gap, number one, self efficacy, number two, self regulation, and number three, planning. And each of these three pillars has two or three sub elements. And I’m going to tell you what they all are. But guess what, we have talked about every single one of these in previous episodes, but today, I want you to see how they all fit together. So let’s start with that first pillar of the health action process approach. It’s self efficacy, and this one has two components to it. The first one is our confidence that whatever this set of actions is, that is going to have a beneficial result. And the second thing is confidence that we have the ability Ready to execute the set of actions. And this sets up a really interesting tension. So let’s say that my gym is offering a super intense bootcamp, I could look at that and think, yeah, I’d definitely get in shape if I did that. But if I don’t have a lot of confidence that I can actually do that, I’m not going to be terribly motivated to participate. But we can go too far in the other direction, too. There might be another class, let’s say, chair yoga for octogenarians, I feel pretty confident I’m going to be able to do that class, but not as confident that it’s actually going to have a whole lot of impact on me. So again, I’m not going to be terribly motivated. So the key here is to thread this needle. And honestly, I think this is where at least 75% of diet and fitness efforts falter. We have to choose something that we are confident of the benefit and confident in our ability to succeed. And when we do that, it greatly increases our motivation to exercise, self regulation. self regulation, is the second of those three pillars in the health action process approach. And now we’re building on the work of Roy Baumeister. And this pillar has three little sub components. The first one is that you have to be clear on what constitutes success. And this is where things like clean eating kind of fall apart, nobody really knows what that is, or whether they’re doing it well enough. So we need to have a clear definition of what constitutes success. The second sub element is the ability and the willingness to compare what we’re doing against that standard. Are my actions consistent with this definition of success? How am I measuring up against this standard.
And the third part of the self regulation pillar is impulse control. Okay? Finally, we get to something that kind of looks like willpower, right? That’s what impulse control is, it’s willpower. And it is an important part of this ability to regulate our actions. But I just want to point out, that willpower isn’t sitting here in a vacuum. It is buttressed by all of these other elements, my confidence in my ability to make a change my conviction that this is going to benefit me, my awareness of the standards, my ability to compare my actions against those standards, all of these support my ability to exercise, impulse control. So we can’t just lay the whole thing at the door of willpower. Willpower is in there, it’s, it’s in the mix. But it’s part of a larger network of behavioral attributes. And then the third part of this health action process approach is planning. And this too, breaks down into a couple of different categories. The first one is action planning. And you’ll remember us talking about this in the past, this is where we are preparing and planning for success. We’re going to figure out exactly which classes we’re going to take this week. And we’re going to schedule them into our calendar. And then while we’re at it, let’s figure out who’s going to watch the kids so we can actually get to the gym. Or let’s sit down and put together a meal plan. But then let’s also make the shopping list that will support that meal plan. And let’s schedule in a couple of hours into the weekends to do some batch planning. So this is planning for success. It’s really important. But the other facet of planning is one that we sometimes overlook. And if anything, this appears to be even more essential. And this one is coping planning. Coping planning is anticipating the barriers, the obstacles that we might encounter in executing our plan, and coming up with strategies to overcome those obstacles. I like to think of this as planning for failure. Or maybe better said planning for success in failure. And this is super important, because it acknowledges from the get go that nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. I might show up at the gym at the scheduled time but my spin classes canceled because my instructor is sick. Well, that doesn’t mean I go downstairs and order a muffin it means I’ll go to a different part of the gym, and I’ll do a different workout today. Coping planning provides flexibility and resilience in the face of those inevitable things that are not going to go occur. according to plan, so this is extremely important, because it helps us prepare ourselves for the fact that things will go awry. And that this is not an excuse to abandon ship, we have to learn how to roll with those punches. So those are the three pillars, and the eight elements of the health action process approach. And we can use these elements as a sort of checklist for whatever it is that we have cooked up here to see if we have set ourselves up for success. So here’s some questions to ask. Are you confident that what you’ve undertaken is both achievable, and beneficial, worth doing? Are you clear on what actions will constitute success? And do you have a way of measuring your own actions against those standards? Have you planned for both success and failure? Because if so, you are harnessing the full power of the health action process approach, congratulations, and if not, hopefully, you now have some very specific ideas of where the gaps are in your plan.
Just a quick break to talk with you more about sunny side. Did you know that Sunny Side uses science to help you reach your goals by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers that you have. Number one, the power of pre commitment, each week, you set an intention for the week ahead. That includes a tracking goal, a drink goal, and possibly a dry day goal. Number two, the power of conscious interference. You’ll learn the habit of tracking each day as soon as you finish it, which creates a mindful pause before you start the next day. And number three positivity. We know that this is a big step that can be tough at times. Right. And that’s why Sunnyside offers coaching through SMS and email to give you support advice and motivation, you can check out a free 15 day trial at www.sunnyside.co/molly. That’s www.sunnyside.co/molly. Wasn’t that great information. I know many of us struggle with building a bridge between our intentions and our actions. And that hap a model is something that can really help to my takeaways. So the To recap, there are three pillars, there is self efficacy, there is self regulation, and there is planning, so self efficacy, self regulation and planning. When we talk about that self efficacy, there was two components to it. The first one is the competence in whatever the set of actions is, whatever actions you’re going to take, is that going to have a beneficial result. And the second one is confidence that you have the ability to execute on the set of actions. So when you heard Monica say that we have to choose something that we are confident of the benefit and confident in our ability to succeed. Does anyone else think that sounds like the doable drink plan that Molly talks about? Or is it just me? Okay, well, that’s what I hear the doable drink plan is the main tenant is one of the main tenants of our peace and power framework. And the main tenant is that we are aiming to for a plan that feels 80 to 90% doable. And we’re going to take small steps in terms of continuous improvement from there, so that we build motivation, right? We have to build trust with ourselves. That’s part of the confidence that she talks about in having an ability to execute, right? And we go and we build slowly to reduce our alcohol and add in more alcohol free days. So I really hear a lot in terms of self efficacy in the doable drink plan. That was the first pillar. The second pillar is self regulation. And self regulation is really building on the work of Roy Baumeister As Monica said, this pillar also has three sub components. The first is that you have to have a clear picture of what constitutes success. The second is the ability and the willingness to compare what you’re doing against that, that standard of success. And the third part is impulse control, but impulse control or willpower, Right is button buttressed by all of those other elements, the costs the or the confidence in your ability to succeed, and your awareness of the benefits of what you’re doing. And also the, the parts. So just basically saying that the part of willpower is really just a part of the mix, right. And I talk with my clients all the time about getting clear on what they are actually drinking. Right? They have to, and I say that all the time, we cannot change what we cannot see. So success is very clear in terms of sticking to the plan and being able to measure our results against that plan. And also, in terms of this conversation, willpower is another way of describing what I call allowing the urge, allowing the urge to be there without responding to it, which again, is part of the mix. But it is not everything. And so many of us put so much emphasis on willpower, that it’s not sustainable, clenching your fists and trying to will yourself through is not going to last but it is definitely part of the learning, especially in the beginning. It’s a part of this process. Now the third pillar of the Hapa model is planning. And while it might sound like that is again, going back to the doable drink plan. In that third pillar, they talk about the the action planning and coping planning. So it’s a little bit different than the doable drink plan. And what I think is it sounds more like another part of the peace and power framework, which is the Off Plan plan. Because ultimately, it’s asking us to think ahead for when we might be tempted to go off plan, and also how we’re going to respond when we do go off plan. Because we will and that’s okay. So yes, what I am saying is that the peace and power framework that is the foundation of becoming an alcohol minimalist is really a Hapa style model. It’s designed to help you improve the odds of creating sustainable change, and it’s based on solid behavior change strategies. So, way to go me right now, that’s really all I have for you this week, my friends, I hope your brackets not busted too badly. I hope if you are enjoying Spring Break that the weather is amazing. And if you want to talk about changing your relationship with alcohol and how I help people change their drinking habits through the peace and power framework, let’s set up a free call. You can email me Molly at Molly watts.com. Let’s chat. Until next time, choose peace, my friends. Hey, thanks for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. Take something you learned from this week’s episode and put it into action. Changing your drinking habits and creating a peaceful relationship with alcohol is 100% possible. You can stop worrying Stop feeling guilty about over drinking and become someone who desires alcohol less. I work with people in three ways. You can learn about them over at www dot Molly watts.com/work with me, or better yet, reach out to me directly. It’s Molly at Molly watts.com. We’ll jump on a call and discuss what’s best for you. This podcast is really just the beginning of our conversation. Let’s keep it going.