Lots of people have successfully lost weight with a number of different weight loss techniques. Losing weight in the short term is actually straightforward. If you are disciplined and committed and can adhere to the right eating plan, you can expect to lose a few pounds from your waist. The truth is that it takes the body time to adapt to the new low-calorie intake. It’s later on after losing a few pounds that you start experiencing lower energy, cravings, slower metabolism and general lethargy. We all know of people in the past that wanted to lose weight and actually did, but gained it all back in few weeks or months. Scientific research shows that the recidivism of weight loss is close to 98% in clinical studies. So the real challenge is not about losing weight, it is about sustaining the new healthy and lean body you’ve acquired. What then can you do to make weight loss stick?
Developing Healthy Habits
Some years back, conventional wisdom held that the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off was for individuals to completely alter their lives. People were advised to start strict diets, join a gym, attend regular counseling sessions etc. The justification was that the only way to cultivate good habits is by radically shaking up someone’s life. However, the failure of such radical methods has been proven countless times. In his book ‘The Power of Habit’ Charles Duhigg pointed out that piling on so much change all at once made it completely difficult for any of it to stick. However, starting with ONE habit has been proven to be effective and powerful. As a life coach, I work with dozens of entrepreneurs and other professionals. I have helped them create healthy lifestyles that does not bother on willpower, instead by strategic planning they have been helped to develop habits that they can rely on forever. Your goal should be developing many good habits that will help you eliminate bad habits that are interfering with your weight loss goals.
How to Create Healthy Habits
Habits are usually small, mindless decisions and actions you adhere to daily. Interestingly, your entire life is basically the sum of your habits. In his book Charles Duhigg pointed out that habits are generally dictated by our cravings and desires. He referred to what is called the ‘Habit Loop’ – the fact that both good and bad habits follow the same pattern. I firmly believe that learning the way habits work and how to create and change them is one of the essential components of sticking to a weight loss plan. This is particularly true if you want to make weight loss stick. This mindset will ultimately determine the success of your weight loss plan. Consider the following tips for creating sustainable habits:
1. Make a list of your habits.
A good first step is to identify the reason WHY you’re making the habit change. Habits are usually created by a repetitive cue, routine and reward system. If your decision is to lose weight, then you need to examine your eating patterns and habits. This will include your shopping habits, how often you eat out etc. List them all out until you understand your habits.
2. Make Plans for New Habits.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of your habits, the next thing is to replace it with new habits. This may not be easy but do not be discouraged. Keep in mind that once a habit has been established (either consciously or subconsciously) it becomes deep-rooted and the most efficient way to change it is to identify the cue and replace it with a new one while maintaining the reward system.
3. Start small.
Remember that the more effort required to create a habit, the more resistance it causes, and the less likely it is for the habit to stick. So ensure your new habit does not require an enormous willpower. Instead of walking for 60 minutes daily, you can start with 15 minutes and work your way up. Then only take ONE habit at a time. In fact it’s recommended that you shouldn’t start on a second habit until the initial one feels ‘natural’ or ‘automatic’
4. Don’t forget to reward yourself!
The habit loop will not be complete if you don’t reward yourself. Set a reward for yourself after following a new habit for an extended period. Preferably, this reward should be in sync with your new healthy habit. In other words, don’t choose food as the habit but something else altogether. One of the things that works well for me is combining the habit with something that I already enjoy. So if I’m going to cook healthy food, I’ll turn on my favourite TV show at the same time, and I do not allow myself to watch that show unless I am doing healthy cooking. Also remember, the best habits are the ones where the reward is built right into them. It can take a while to get there, but healthy food is a good example of this. The more you eat it, the better you feel, the more in control of your life and habits you feel. That in itself is a rewarding experience.
Initially this new habits may not seem like much, but in the long run creating these small, healthy habits can really add up and lead to significant changes to your health and overall well-being! And as you create these small habits, it becomes easier to add the next ones.
Christopher Lawrence is a Co-Founder of the Healthy Transformations program with Dr. Mike Breen. He is also the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching — a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker that truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.