by Allie Boudreau

The “A to B” model is a behavioral mindset that helps explain why working towards a goal becomes the hardest when you have nearly reached it. This model is a great way to bring light to setting nutrition goals, weight loss, and the steps you must take to achieve them.

The model is simple. You start at “A” and you are trying to get to “B” (your goal). Think of this model as a funnel, in which “A” is the top, and as the funnel narrows, the bottom is “B”. At “A”, the top of this funnel is big and wide. “A” is what we call the “zone of optimal behavior” and in this place you are performing many simple behaviors and can still move towards “B”. However as the funnel narrows and you get closer to “B”, the behaviors become fewer and more difficult, thus entering the “zone of acceptable behavior”.

I like to use an example unrelated to nutrition to demonstrate the A to B model. Imagine you are an athlete trying to make a professional roster. At “A”, you are just a young kid starting to play the game. As the funnel narrows you start going to youth practices, join a travel league, and you make the team in high school. Soon you must start sacrificing things in order to continue to move towards your goal. You must do well in school in order to get yourself a scholarship to play in college, spend less time with friends because you are training, and eat better to fuel your performance and so on. Now you cannot just play around with the ball in the backyard like you did when you were a child in “A”; you must accept more responsibilities and practice harder, more complex behaviors to get yourself in a position to move down the funnel. You are faced with a “choice point”, you cannot regress back to the top of the funnel, you must either continue on to the “zone of acceptable behavior” or you must abandon your goal. This is difficult and uncomfortable, but that is what makes reaching your goal so sweet. When you reflect on where you started in “A”, and the behavior you practiced and sacrifices you made to get to “B”, you feel the exhilaration of reaching your goal.

Have you ever listened to a successful athlete or businessperson speak about their journey towards success?  Each and every one of them started at “A” and embraced the behaviors that were necessary to get themselves to “B”. Odds are the journey was not easy, and they were challenged along the way whether they wanted to do everything they possibly could to reach their ultimate goal.

Think about using the “A to B” model with your nutrition. Maybe your goal is to lose 30lbs. What simple behaviors are you going to practice to move yourself in that direction while at “A”? And when you start to make progress and it becomes more and more difficult to lose weight, what will you do to move down the narrow funnel to reach “B”?

It is imperative that you not jump down the funnel before first starting at “A”.  Do the little things now and see where that takes you. Then remember, as the funnel becomes narrower, understand that those behaviors will become harder and fewer. Nothing amazing ever came easily. Stay focused on your goals, in every aspect of life, and practice the behaviors necessary to reach them.