Breaking Habits – Chances Are You’re Doing It Wrong.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”
― Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk
_____________________________________

If weight loss was the sidewalk, and dieting the hole, I fell in so often I bought a house on the street.

What about you? How often do you fall in?

The Diet Habit

This post is second in a series that you helped inspire – the first can be found here.

We’re starting the New Year with a new way of thinking…a weight loss intervention of sorts, so if you’re tired of dieting, and the failure that follows, you’ve come to the right place.

Thinking Differently About Food and Yourself

You want to be thin. So you diet, starve and maybe pop a few pills. But things don’t go as planned.

Why?habit3

Because your body doesn’t understand the concept of dieting. All it knows is that it has a job to do, and that job is to keep you alive.

Of course, that’s not its only job. It also works hard to keep you healthy, happy, lean, and beautiful, but believe it or not, none of that has anything to do with dieting.

It does however, have everything to do with what you feed it.

I know you’ve heard it before, but please hear me out…

Healthy eating is the best way:

  • To lose weight
  • keep it off
  • Feel fabulous
  • Be happier
  • Look beautiful
  • Beat stress
  • Think clearer
  • Live longer

Holding the Keys to the Kingdom

I’m sure that if it could, your body would jump at the chance to make out your grocery list, but since that’s not possible it’s stuck with your decisions and good or bad, it works with what you give it.habit1

Think about that for minute.

Your body can work miracles, but only within the realm of what it’s given.

How many times do you look in the mirror and curse at your reflection? How often do you get the urge to throw your scale across the room? Do you sleep well? Are you stressed? Do you think clearly?

If dieting is your hole in the sidewalk, healthy eating is your ticket off the street.

Facing the Uphill Battle

I don’t blame you for wondering why, if healthy eating is so brilliant, it has such a bad rep, after all, I avoided it for decades, but it all begins to make sense if you look at the big picture.

We’re creatures of habit, rapidly becoming accustomed to instant gratification, and with the billions of dollars spent studying those habits, the food and dieting industries have become master manipulators.

 ___________

The food industry already knew some things about making people happy — and it started with sugar

What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive.

The company’s Yoplait brand had transformed traditional unsweetened breakfast yogurt into a veritable dessert. It now had twice as much sugar per serving as General Mills’ marshmallow cereal Lucky Charms. And yet, because of yogurt’s well-tended image as a wholesome snack, sales of Yoplait were soaring.

___________

These quotes and excerpts are taken from the 2013 New York Times article – The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food – and you need to read it. It describes what took place during a meeting of the top men in America’s largest food companies, and it’s eye opening. No wonder we struggle to lose weight!

As for the dieting industry, well, we all know how honest and ethical they are:

Eat as much as you want and never gain weight

Lose weight the easy way

The simple solution to bust your body fat while eating what you want when you want

It’s time to stop focusing on your weight and start thinking about you.

When you’re obsessed with your weight you start the vicious cycle of dieting that doesn’t do you or your body any favors.

Shifting your focus to healthier eating encourages you to feel good about yourself, while feeding your body the nutrients it needs to become healthy, and beautiful, and lose those extra pounds.

Habits 101

Now that you know how you’re being manipulated, lets work out a strategy to stop it, and since everyone is interested in your habits, that’s the perfect place to start.

We all know that a habit is a recurrent, often unconscious behavior, but if you’re looking to change one, or a dozen, it helps to know how they’re formed.

According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power Of Habit, habits are the brain’s way of lightening our load. He calls the process a “habit loop” where there’s a trigger, the actual routine, and then the reward. The reward is the brain’s ability to recall the automatic behavior, allowing us to fill our mind with more important thoughts. In other words, your brain switches to autopilot leaving you to multi-task, which is great if you’re brushing your teeth or taking a shower, but not so much if you’re trying to lose weight.

Breaking Bad

There’s no way around it, you have to eat, which means there’s no such thing as quitting. The good news is that there are delicious, healthy meals and snacks just waiting for you to sample, and even though change can be difficult, people do it all the time. The following tips will help you switch out your unhealthy habits for ones that will make a healthy, positive change.

Become Aware
Since most habits are unconscious behaviors, you need to become aware of your actions. Do you reach for a snack habit2 when you’re bored or tired? That’s one of my worst. What about ordering an appetizer or having a drink as soon as you get to a restaurant? Making a list of some of the habits you’re looking to change will help you remember to pay more attention. And being conscious of your thoughts and feelings leading up to your unhealthy habit will make it easier for you to recognize ahead of time.

Think replace instead of break
Most of the time bad habits are our way of dealing with boredom or stress, so this is why you want to think replace instead of break. Your bad habit fills a need, so trying to eliminate it isn’t going to work, but replacing it with a healthier habit will.

If you snack when you’re bored or tired, get up and move around. If you have to put something in your mouth try drinking a glass of water, chewing gum or snacking on raw nuts or a piece of fruit. Remind yourself that you’re bored, not hungry, and if you usually do get an appetizer at the restaurant, why not ask for a salad or side of veggies as soon as you sit down, and try drinking a glass of lemon or orange water before you automatically order that drink.

Have a plan
When you make out your list of habits that you’d like to work on, include how you’ll be replacing them. Having a plan leaves less room for excuses and will reinforce what you’re trying to accomplish. Telling your friends and loved ones about your plan will help to hold you accountable.

Change your surroundings
A great way to change bad habits is to go on vacation or get away for few days. Plan your strategy for how you’ll handle the habits you want to change, and get started in a different environment. Make sure you have a plan for when you get home so that you don’t fall back into your old ways.

Create obstacles
Another good way to replace bad habits is to set up obstacles in your environment. If you overeat at the same location switch to a different seat, or set a reasonable time limit for your meal. If you snack on the couch, don’t sit there, and keep only healthy snacks in the house. I’m too lazy to jump in the car to go for a snack so this works great for me.

Visualize your success
You’ve already created a plan and visualizing yourself carrying it out will be a huge help. To the brain, visualization is almost the same as actually doing the action, so by seeing yourself replace cake with an apple, or packing a lunch instead of hitting the drive-thru, you’re helping to convince your brain that what you’re doing is already a habit, which is exactly what you’re looking for.

Good Habits are as addictive as bad habits, only more rewarding

Regardless of what you’ve heard, there is no set time on replacing a habit. Some lucky people can change a habit in a matter of days, while for others it may take weeks or even months. No matter the length of time that it takes, be patient. Change is hard, but people take on hard projects all the time and succeed.

Don’t Be Intimidated

Eating should be enjoyable, not intimidating. Unfortunately though, with all of the information crammed down our throats about “Eat this – Not that”, it can get to a point where we just don’t care anymore.

But that doesn’t have to be the case, because there is no 100% right way to eat.

Finding healthy food to fit your likes and lifestyle shouldn’t be like rocket science, and deep down, you already know the basics. In part 3 of this series I’ll guide you toward healthier foods and snacks. We’ll talk portions and I’ll throw in some delicious recipes, so take a breath and relax. Think about what you’d like to change first and use the above tools to begin your journey.

_________________________

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What was the last habit you changed? How did you do it?

If you have questions about your lifestyle or habit changes, now is the perfect time to take advantage of my free 30 Minute Mindset Makeover. I’ll answer your questions and together we’ll tackle your concerns.

Use the buttons below and let people you care about know that changing habits isn’t a lost cause.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

One thought on “Breaking Habits – Chances Are You’re Doing It Wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *