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In order to achieve weight loss you have to go to war with your brain and your body. To win the war you will need will power, smart tools and most importantly a strategy.
In this article we will talk about why it is so hard to be fit and eat healthy and we will explore researched approaches that work in almost all circumstances.
Habits, circumstances and weight gain
The Covid pandemic had a series of horrible outcomes, some were tragic and some were a good illustration of the fact that most people lack self discipline. They need a routine and something to keep them in that routine.
This has reflected in the number of people who gained too much weight and in those who randomly ordered items online after seeing all that Netflix had to offer.
When people were forced to stay at home, and didn’t have to stick to their normal daily schedule, whatever routine they had collapsed and they gave into their bad habits that simply took over their lives.
However, many of us were in a bad position to start with. The pandemic only placed a magnifying glass on our flaws.
Due to our modern lifestyle that is fast paced and surrounded by marketing that pushes a lot of delicious products in our face, we find it difficult to create good habits and we end up gaining weight.
In this article we will discuss strategies that can help anyone lose weight even if they are not following a routine. Some of these strategies can be applied to other aspects of your life.
Let’s start out simple and talk about what habits are and how these can help you lose weight.
Habits that promote weight loss and weight gain
You didn’t expect to read about habits in this article, did you? It’s something that most health gurus miss because it’s a sensitive matter and because our brain absolutely loves our habits and it doesn’t want to let them go.
From the moment we are born, we start to form habits. Even the little things are a habit – like locking the door and brushing your teeth.
What does this have to do with weight-loss? Everything.
Over time, we developed bad habits that cause weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle. At first, you didn’t even notice them, but in time they pile-up and create a bad routine.
In order to lose weight, you need to shake off some bad habits and create new, good ones.
Bad habits that lead to weight gain
The best way to find out what your bad habits are is to write the events from a day in a journal. If you are old fashioned you can use pen and paper but nowadays, there are countless apps that make things easier.
However, you need to pay attention because bad habits are automatisms and this means that we are prone to forget about them entirely.
Take note of the following instances:
We are not talking just about meals. The piece of chocolate that you ate just because it was the last one and you wanted to throw away the packaging matters.
There will be other occasional snacks that are easy to forget. These are the ones that don’t bring much satisfaction but sometimes amount to as much as 500 calories. Yes, you can eat 500 calories and forget about it because it’s a habit.
During the Covid pandemic people started to snack even more than usual. But this regularly happens for reasons that don’t justify it like: boredom, being tired or watching a movie.
While some snaking is OK, the type that you forget about or that you do simply out of the force of habit, are the ones that help you gain weight?
If you like to assign blame, know that the Prefrontal Cortex is to blame for grabbing that biscuit without realizing it. It is an automated behavior that you can and should change.
Drinking – Anything.
After writing down for a few days what you drink you will probably realize that you are not drinking enough water, but are somehow drinking enough calories.
Sitting down isn’t a normal circumstance for humans. Yes, it is a part of our daily lives, one that takes out most of the day, but we are not built to sit. Sitting is bad for our back, for our legs, for weight loss and even for our brain.
Nevertheless, we never know exactly how much we sit because it has become a habit.
Walking, running and moving around
Knowing exactly how much you move around will give you better understanding on how your day really looks like. It is difficult to track movement efficiently without the help of technology, so the best way to do it is by using a smart watch or a fitness band. You can find some here, but if you already have one that’s great. It means that you already understand how important they are.
Once you become aware of your habits, you will be able to make corrections. When you start to pay attention to your habits, you will be able to force yourself to avoid them.
Probably the first thing you will learn is how much you really eat. We all do it, this constant snacking. It is natural, and there isn’t anything wrong with you for doing it.
We tend to constantly snack because during our evolution, we had to do it to survive. Back when humans were hunter gatherers, if they found a fruit and didn’t have the means to carry it, they ate it.
They did this throughout the day, and it helped them survive. It’s an evolutionary habit that helped our species survive. But to lose weight, you will have to shake the behavior off and move on.
Knowledge is power, with this knowledge you will be able to implement new, better habits.
Creating good – weight loss orientated habits
Creating a new habit takes time. This is one of the reasons for which losing weight is so difficult.
The general consensus is that it takes three weeks to create a new habit. But, not all habits take 21 days. Some can take as much as 66 days. The number varies from 18 to 66, but after three weeks, it will be easier to consolidate it.
Since it takes an average of three weeks of repetition for a habit to form, it means that you need three weeks of will power.
I don’t know where you can buy will power from, but I do know that you can buy the book “Atomic Habits” from Amazon, here. It will give you far better insight on habit formation.
Sticking to good weight-loss habits
The “making sure you stick to the new habit part” is difficult too. For example, making sure to drink enough water can mean that you will install an app on your phone, which will remind you to do it at a given interval.
Did you already try this? Most people have. Also, most people failed to drink enough water.
Because just having a reminder doesn’t help. You also need to have the water handy and the willpower to stop and actually drink it. If your water bottle is in the car, and you are in the office, you will put a snooze on the app and you will keep doing it until the end of the day.
This example can be applied to any weight-loss habit that you want to implement. Help yourself follow through.
It’s the same with waking up early in the morning and going for a run or following an exercise routine.
If you wake up and your coffee isn’t ready and you need to pick the clothes to wear, it will create a series of events that will eventually convince you to go back to bed and keep procrastinating.
Instead of being in a position to refuse yourself, it is much easier to have everything ready in the morning.
So, get a coffee machine that can make your coffee before you wake up. You can find one here, and if you are a coffee lover, simply waking up to the pleasant aroma will make your day better.
Pick-up your outfit for the run the evening before. Put your gear right next to it. (Water bottle, smart watch, raincoat…and whatever else you tend to procrastinate on).
Being OK with who you are
Many people think that preparing everything in advance just to make sure that they get stuff done makes them weak.
No one likes to be weak, so they will automatically refuse to do it and convince themselves that it’s OK not to get prepared and that they will follow through without the entire preparation.
However, learning about your weaknesses makes you strong and gives you the power to turn them into strengths.
Preparation in advance translates into strategic thinking. And if you have to treat your brain like you would be talking to a child, go ahead and do it.
What you need to understand is that habits are formed to make our life easier. Once a habit is formed, it will take almost no willpower to do something. There are neurons that address the habit all alone.
This is why you need a strategy to fight that habit. Learning about yourself, and compiling a strategy to beat your brain and do something you want, is fundamental in your weight-loss journey.
Our body doesn’t want to let fat go, our brain doesn’t want to let habits go… if we continue like this, by the end of this article you will have memorized the theme song of Frozen. If you are a parent you probably already had.
What habits promote weight loss?
On this web site, you will find a few articles that address weight loss and metabolic disorders. I encourage you to take the time and read them as together they will help you understand a lot more about nutrition, weight loss and weight gain.
Here we will talk only about the main habits that you can change to your benefit.
Decide what type of diet you want to follow
We discussed some of the diets in this article, where we looked at research and how effective diets are on the long term.
We encourage you to choose a diet, and learn as much as you can about it, and then make a well informed decision.
Once you know exactly what you have to do you can work on the habits that you want to form or break.
This is a habit that most people find extremely difficult to develop.
This happens because when they start exercising (in any form) they over do it, and become fatigued, being unable to work out the next day.
It’s difficult to do any form of exercise when your muscles are sore.
However, forming a habit is not about pain, but about perseverance. So, decide on a time interval and make sure that every day you will do some form of exercising at that particular time.
If you are too tired to actually exercise, simply go for a pleasant walk. It will clear your brain and encourage habit formation.
Make weight loss orientated choices
While shopping it is easy to buy caloric dense foods that you will then have in your home. So basically, all that marketing is inviting you to take home the enemy.
Read labels and choose foods that are worth it. Yes, some items really pay for their calories, but most of them don’t.
Do not buy foods that are high in calories if they aren’t perfect.
Most of us eat without thinking about eating. We can all agree that most of the food that we eat goes down way too fast.
This may seem unimportant, but it is absolutely essential. It is one of those bad habits that you will have to break.
Plan to eat a meal in at least 20 minutes. Ideally, it should take 30 to 45 minutes.
Make it your purpose to spend as long as possible eating, giving special attention to chewing. Force yourself to do it once and you will notice that you will feel full while eating less.
When we eat fast, our brain doesn’t have time to process how much we ate. Leptin (the hormone that tells us that we are full) takes time to build up and tell our brain that we don’t need any more.
Planning and preparing is the key to success in everything. So, when you are working hard at losing weight, make sure that you have your time planned.
Long term plans are difficult, especially when thinking about weight loss, because some changes are out of our control. It is best to have an overview of what you want on a medium and long term, and to plan for the next day.
Take time every evening to plan for your next day meals, snacks, exercises. When possible, prepare in advance.
Having breakfast ready or almost ready will insure that you don’t eat random (unhealthy) things. If you boil a few eggs, they keep well in the fridge, but you can also prepare meals in advance and keep it in special containers like these.
Even if losing weight is not exactly easy, once you created your own strategy and implemented it, by forming good habits, it will become much easier.
Knowing how to form new habits will help you in other aspects of your life. It will bring you numerous benefits and you will learn that you are truly the one in control of your life.
Starting with weight loss just makes sense because it will bring you other benefits and a much healthier life.