Weight loss: EASY way or HARD

What would you choose?

How about the RIGHT way? With Support!

When it comes to getting healthy and losing weight, there is the easy way, the hard way, and there’s the right way. There’s no doubt that we all badly want the easy way. If only it existed. We want the magic pill, the lotion, the potion, the surgery, any gadget or gizmo that requires little to no change, commitment or effort on our part. The problem is there is no such thing and since the EASY method doesn’t work, there are many who will opt for the HARD way. Now these are the people who read every diet book under the sun. They know everything they should and shouldn’t eat. They know exactly what activities and exercises they should and should NOT do. They can do it by THEMSELVES and they don’t need help. Now this method isn’t completely ineffective. It’s just less effective and a harder way to get healthy and have lasting success.

Wouldn’t it be nice if losing weight could be simple, fast, and sustainable? Believe it or not, it can be. This is where the RIGHT way to lose weight and get healthy comes into play. The KEY to simple, fast, sustainable health and weight loss is SUPPORT. According to Dr. Wayne S. Andersen, bestselling author of Dr A’s Habits of Health, “Building a support system is the single most important thing you can do to incorporate and maintain the Habits of Health”.

Imagine a skyscraper and all the support it requires. There are thousands of cubic yards of concrete and steel that go into the foundation. Then there are miles of steel beams and supports that go into the frame so that it ultimately can be constructed. It is because of all the preparation and support that the completed building can withstand heavy winds, earthquakes, and other natural forces without crumbling to the earth.

Just as structure and support are critical for the strength and integrity of a skyscraper, it is likewise important for our strength as well. We are who we are because of the choices and habits we have adopted over our lives. We are rich or poor, healthy or sick, happy or sad as a result of these habits. As we exchange our current habits for new healthy ones, those bad habits will fight against us. They will beat on us with the storms of life until we buckle. That is unless we have established a good SUPPORT system!

Understanding Habits and Mastering Them Through Support

One thing that psychologists have begun to understand is that a lot of our everyday behavior is caused by circumstances in the world. Think about some of these common habits (that are usually good behaviors)

  • When your phone rings, you naturally go to answer it.
  • When you approach a red traffic light, you brake your car.
  • When you go to the store to buy detergent, you usually buy the same brand every time.

Bad habits are often related to specific situations as well.

  • You might eat well at home, but order a large burger and fries at a restaurant.
  • You might drink too much when you spend time with particular friends.
  • You might find that you smoke a cigarette whenever you get home in the evening.
  • You might bite your nails when you sit at your desk at home.

It doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad. Your mind finds things that you do all the time and learns to do them automatically so that you don't have to think about them. Your habit learning system doesn't know which behaviors you think are good or bad. It only knows that in a particular situation, you usually perform the same action, and so when you get into that situation again, it suggests that action again.

So how do you break bad habits and create new good ones?

1) Define Bad Habit and Commit to Change

  • Before you can change anything, you need to identify the habit you want changed
  • You can't change anything unless you are ready and COMMITTED to do so

2) Disrupt the Habit

  • Block habits by disrupting the specific actions that make up the habit
  • Stop habit from becoming mindless; force yourself to have to think about the habit
  • When possible change your environment. This can be difficult and may require the help of a friend.

3) Create Habit Diary

  • Identify triggers (elements in life that support current habit)
  • Make note of date, time of day, your mood, where you were, what you were thinking
  • Identify patterns
  • This allows you to learn about yourself

4) Replace Bad Habit with a Healthy Habit

  • Replace something with something
  • You MUST create a goal

5) Reward Yourself (not with food)

  • Provide self with positive feedback

There are two major components to changing habits. First, you must remember that habits are not eliminated. Instead, you should try to replace your behavior with something else. If you bite your nails in bed, then try doing something else that will keep your hands busy when you get ready to go to sleep. For example, you could give yourself a manicure before bed, or maybe do a crossword puzzle before going to sleep. Eventually, you will start to learn to link a new behavior to the old cues. That is, by replacing your bad behavior with a good one, you will eventually create a good habit where there was only a bad one before.

Second, enlist your friends to help you change your behavior as much as possible. ASK for help and ask for their SUPPORT. Often, when we want to change a bad habit, we don't really tell anyone about it. We might be afraid to admit that we have a bad habit. We might be concerned that if people knew we were trying to change our behavior, they might think less of us if we fail.

Think about what a powerful influence other people are on our behavior. There are many behaviors you might be willing to do when you are alone, but not when you are with others. So bring other people along with you in situations where you usually do your bad habit. Even when you can't have those other people with you all the time, have people that you can call to talk to if you feel yourself drawn to your bad habit. This type of support is critical for short term and lasting success.

Finally, remember that overcoming a bad habit takes time. It probably took a while to develop the bad habit, you shouldn't think that it will go away quickly. Each time that you are in a situation where you used to do your bad habit and you don't do it, you are one step closer to breaking the habit. You might slip every once in a while and do the behavior you are trying to change. Those slips are normal. Do not beat yourself up about them. Just work at making the good behaviors happen more often than the bad ones. The more this happens, the weaker the bad habit will get over time. After all, your goal in the end is not to successfully fight your bad habit, but instead to create good habits so that you do not have to think about the behavior any more at all.

So you've decided to change your eating habits. Great!

Have you thought about getting SUPPORT in making this change?

Having the support of people close to you is an important part of change. It doesn't matter if you're changing a job, a routine, or how you eat-support gives you a better chance of making the change work.

Key points

  • Support can come from lots of people. Your family and friends can help you change how you eat, but you also can get help from others.
  • Support comes in many forms. It can be positive words and actions or gentle reminders to stay on track.
  • Support works. Research shows that getting support from spouses, family members, and friends is important in making behavior changes that affect health.1
  • Some people that you may expect to support you may not help you and may even make it harder for you to succeed.
  • Decide who you want to share your plans for change with.