Weight loss is like being on a roller coaster: Up, down, up, down, round and round. It makes your head spin and you feel sick! We know that our weight varies a lot and at times feels out of our control. A more reliable way to impact your body weight that puts you in control is by committing to a few small, simple changes in your habits. By making small lifestyle changes you’ll keep moving toward your goal, and your small changes will build into larger ones that can permanently change your behaviour.
Winning Small Battles and Win the War
One reason small habit changes work is because you see results quickly. Each time you follow through on a small habit, you build your self-confidence. That way you know you are in control. When you’ve set-up a specific small habit you can lower anxiety about whether you’re doing “it right” or doing “enough.” For example, you decide to eat a vegetable every day at lunch, every time you do it you’ve achieved a goal, and grow in confidence.
Keep it Simple
Choose a small habit, something you can do without too much stress or major adjustments, remember to make it something you can do and does not depend on someone else. This way you will set yourself up for success. Later you can ramp up that small habit to the next level for even better results. When eating a vegetable every day at lunch becomes a no-brainer, you can move to the next level of your goal. Now eat two vegetables at dinner every day!
Simple right, and that’s the beauty of making small habits, when one habit becomes routine, and then you can move onto another small habit. You keep moving steadily in easy steps that move you toward a big life changing results.
Connect with Something that Motivates
Changing old negative behaviours takes effort, you’ll need a good reason to make the next new behaviour change worth the effort. Improving your health is a great reason, right? But if that doesn’t, try picking something more concrete and immediately noticeable. If you want to drink water instead of soda, one way you could motivate yourself is to save the money you’d spend on soda to splurge on something you don’t usually get for yourself. A new gadget? A weekend away? You can also make it about how you feel or think. Maybe you feel healthier and more natural when you drink water.
Create Positive Triggers
Triggers are often seen as a negative influence that leads you to an unhealthy activity. You might be feeling sad which could be a trigger to overeat. On the other hand you can pull the trigger and make it a positive influence. You can use triggers to remind you to do your chosen habit. These kinds of triggers can be simple, like setting an alarm, a well placed note or an event. But it must be a trigger that you’ll notice, and give you time to fulfill the habit. To trigger yourself to drink water, you could schedule a meeting with a ‘glass of water’.
Start associating your habits with something you do every day. I used to do a simple strength workout that took the same amount of time for the kettle to boil, so every time I had a coffee at home I’d do 10 bicep curls, 10 press-ups, 10 abdo-curls and 10 tricep extensions!
How to Stay Motivated
So, you have a specific, easy goal, with a powerful motivator, and a great trigger that reminds you to maintain your small habit, you’ll still have moments when you are tempted to give in, now it’s time to round up more reinforcements. You’ll need support for your new habit, time to tell a trusted friend or family member what you’re doing, and ask them to remind you why you’re in this game. This is a perfect opportunity for you to use Facebook, Strava, MyFitnessPal or other social media.
If you feel tempted to skip a workout or eat something you decided not to eat, simple planned statements like, “I always feel better after I walk” or “That doughnut is not part of my plan” can help keep you on track.
The small-habit approach won’t shed pounds overnight, it’s going to take time, but the changes will be deep and lasting. You can keep you on track without the jarring impact of a huge life change. Adding one small habit change after another leads to a powerful array of healthy habits that you can use to keep your weight under control and add years to your life.