You’ve probably tried losing weight before with some success. Along the way, like most of us, you’ve probably had those days when you just felt like staying on the couch and watching TV.
Other times, it may just be wanting to give in to your deepest food cravings, be it a pizza, fried chicken or a slice of cake.
So how do you make losing weight a habit so that you don’t fall into these traps? The answer is simple. Give yourself a break.
Here, we’ll explain how losing weight as a lifestyle through habit is much better than forcing yourself into a strict weight loss regimen of depriving yourself.
This not only makes it easier to stay consistent, but it also gives you a better chance of staying on the program for the long term.
1. Start by Breaking Bad Habits
Our habits are deeply rooted in us. Many of them we’ve developed and reinforced since our childhood. This makes them very difficult to break because we like reverting to what we feel comfortable with.
This is one of the reasons it’s hard to break them and start new habits.
Often, we rely on willpower and motivation to keep us going, whether it’s saying no to food you like or pushing yourself to get to the gym.
Unfortunately, willpower is like a muscle. This is according to the American Psychological Association. And, like a muscle, the more you use it, the more it gets tired.
This is why after a while, we just give up and give in to our old habits.
Willpower is great to get you started. But, it won’t be able to sustain you because you just get tired of trying so hard each time.
Instead, here are a few tips that will help you break bad habits without relying on exerting willpower all the time.
- Find a substitute for your bad habit. It’s easy to miss a bad habit when you can’t do it. This is especially true when you’re bored or under stress. By filling that hole with something else (a good habit), you’re able to have an alternative thing to turn to. This lets you do something more meaningful instead of the bad habit when you feel like it.
- Avoid things that trigger these old behaviors. Temptation will always be around you. But you can avoid them. For example, cleaning out your fridge, table, and panty of junk food keeps them away from sight. This prevents you from thinking of them whenever you see them. In the same way, skipping a workout is much easier when you find an interesting show on TV. By removing these triggers, you’re better able to instill new behaviors.
- Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live. You’re more likely to do the things people around you do. This is why Jim Rohn states that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Because we’re human, we tend to mimic the behavior of those we spend the most time with. So, spending time with like-minded individuals will help improve your lifestyle without you putting much effort into it.
- Don’t sweat your slip-ups. At some point, you’ll screw up and miss a workout or give into your cravings. What you need to remember is it doesn’t make you a failure, nor a bad person. You’re just human, so expect to slip up. Instead of beating yourself up for it, get back on track. The goal is to be consistent enough to see meaningful results, not being perfect and miserable.
2. Decide and Commit to Lose Weight
It’s easy to say, “I’m going to start losing weight.” Then, something comes up and the next thing you know you’re saying to yourself, “well, I’ll just start tomorrow.”
The same is true with doing cheat days and skipping workouts. Skipping them once makes you more likely to skip them again. Soon enough, it becomes a few days, then a week, later a month.
Most of us like the word “try” because it’s easier not to commit. This is especially true for things we know are hard to achieve, like losing weight.
The word “try” gives you a “way out.” This is why some successful people like Bon Jovi never had a “Plan B.” This forced them to follow through in good and bad times since they had nothing else to fall back on.
A big part of our inability to commit is fear of failure. The question, ‘what if I don’t lose weight?” or “what if I only lose a few pounds?” makes us afraid to go all in.
Sometimes, you just have to take the plunge. This is why couples still decide to get married despite knowing that 50% of all marriages end with divorce. It doesn’t stop them from totally committed themselves to one another and their relationship.
3. Keep Yourself Accountable
Keeping yourself accountable makes you a more responsible eater. The same is true with workouts. This is one reason why many people like to post their weight loss journeys on their blogs.
By putting it up for everyone to see, they’re held more accountable for what they eat and how often they exercise.
While it may feel embarrassing or weird, it works.
Data suggests that those who allow others to see their food diaries or weight loss journals tend to lose twice as much weight than those who don’t share their stories.
4. Set Small Goals that Lead Toward Your Main Goal
Having a big goal can be overwhelming. This makes it difficult to start or follow through on. More importantly, because some new habits can be difficult or complicated, you become daunted by it even before you begin.
Instead of focusing on the big picture, try to take small steps. Make sure that these small steps are in line with your overall goal. Thus, helping you get there.
So, if you plan on cleaning up your diet, try removing one or two things at a time. If you decide to do everything at once, it will likely leave you feeling deprived. This is one reason many people quit their diets so quickly.
By slowing adjusting your diet, you’re instilling a new habit of healthy eating, which is more likely to stick for the long term.
5. Set Up a Supportive Environment
Having the right social support is very important. Additionally, the people you hang out with influence your behavior.
For example, it’s much easier to lose weight when you eat with friends who are health conscious than with friends who like to party to indulge in junk food. Food around you, good or bad, plays a big part in what you decide to eat. So, if you have a lot of fast food and sugar in front of you, you’re more likely to take a bite at it at some point.
A study in the American Journal of Medicine backs this up.
It found that participants who were part of a weight loss group lose more weight compared to those tried to do it on their own.
6. Be Consistent in Tracking Your Food
Keeping tabs of what you eat can be a hassle. But, it has been proven to be an effective way of helping you lose weight.
Something as easy as writing what you eat every meal on a journal makes you accountable. It also allows you to go back and see which foods or meals helped you lose the most weight. At the same time, it lets you figure out which foods don’t help you lose weight.
According to diet tracking service MyFitnessPal, nearly 90% of their users who log their meals lose weight. It said that by logging their meals, users are better able to understand what they’re putting in their bodies. It also helps them pay attention to how much energy some foods have.
Without knowing it, you’ll be able to tell by instinct which foods have more calories, and to avoid them.
7. Keep Doing Your Workouts
Many experts say that weight loss is 75-80% diet and 20-25% exercise. The reason why this is true is that it’s easier to lose weight from diet compared to exercise. Fixing your diet or reducing the amount of food you eat lets you cut anywhere from 200 to 1,000 calories a day.
On the other hand, it takes a lot more exercise just to burn 500 calories. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is an essential part of a sustainable weight loss program. More importantly, cardio has been proven to be very effective in shedding belly fat, which is the worse kind of fat to have.
This is why the most effective weight loss systems always combine the two.
But because diet plays a much more prominent role in helping you lose weight, we recommend focusing more time and effort into it.
When it comes to exercise start slow and build yourself up. The goal isn’t to lose as much weight as soon as possible. Instead, it is to find a workout regimen that lets you be consistent. Something too intense or requires long sessions almost never works. That’s because life gets in the way. Or, you just hate doing them after a month or two.
In fact, 30 minutes of brisk walking (3 mph) every day has been shown to be an excellent place to start.
8. Make Adjustments as You Go
Part of the weight loss journey is understanding your body. This takes time and a bit of experimenting. That’s because everyone is different. So, what works for others may not work for you, and vice versa.
Following a weight loss plan and personalizing it as you go lets you figure out which parts of the system work for you. And, which ones don’t.
It also lets you focus on the things that work and make adjustments, or entirely ditch those that don’t.
Focus more on what’s working
Often, it’s easier to notice the things that aren’t working or what you don’t like about what you’re doing. Doing so makes you feel negative. And, it makes you more likely to quit mid-way.
But, by focusing on the positives, it will help you find things that help you keep going.
For example, instead of weighing yourself daily and being discouraged because you didn’t lose weight, focus on how easy walking an extra 30 minutes is by going outside during lunchtime for a stroll.
By focusing on what’s working, you’re better able to form new healthier habits and get rid of the old, unhealthy ones.
9. Be Patient
New habits take time. That’s because we need to get used to doing them regularly. And, our body likes sticking to what it knows from memory.
For this reason, it’s important to be patient when learning any new behavior.
Another thing to be wary of is stress. Stress makes revert to old habits. So, until you become completely comfortable with what’s new, it won’t feel natural, which can be stressful at times.
This is especially true when trying to lose weight. Stress rears its ugly head when you’ve been working hard but don’t see any movement on the scale. Or, sometimes, life just gets in the way.
During these moments, it’s easy to turn to food. That’s because it is very comforting, making it very enticing when we feel down.
Also, when we’re under stress, our minds get fatigued. This causes us to lose motivation in exercise or just being active.
Give yourself a few weeks to a few months to adopt the new habits, because you need to break the old ones first.