This time of the year, I’m acutely aware of the challenges that we all face when it comes to this health-giving lifestyle we’re all striving for. Striving is a strong word, but it’s an accurate way to describe how hard we all must fight to maintain our health habits during the holidays. To say it’s a struggle would be an understatement.
Not just about willpower
Too often with weight loss, it’s implied that willpower is the deciding factor between who can successfully manage their weight, and who cannot. But willpower is limited and actually plays a minor role in health behaviors. Instead, the keys to success have more to do with arranging your environment and social situations (cues) then it does with willpower. Instead of relying on willpower, which is limited, try arranging your world so that the health habits flow naturally. If you want to eat less calories, serve yourself on a smaller plate and bulk it up with vegetables. If you are trying to make a habit of walking every day, set your shoes and socks by the door the night before.
In order to adopt health habits that work, you need to set yourself up to succeed. Spend time with people who are active and have a diverse range of active hobbies, for example, and you’ll likely find yourself being more active. Peer pressure is a highly under-rated tool. Unfortunately, peer-pressure usually works to reinforce negative health habits. Once you understand the power of social and environmental cues, you will develop strategies that work for you instead of against you.
If you are tired of the yo-yo diet cycle, you’ll have to get off the hamster wheel. Don’t wait until January to start making some changes, but instead, start making tiny changes now and you’ll be way ahead of the game. When everyone else is starting their annual purge-diet, you’ll be in a much better position to establish habits that you can actually stick with.
Diets can produce short-term results, but a lifestyle change requires planning, commitment and a change to existing habits. A lifestyle change requires an honest assessment of current health habits. Scratch below the surface of bad eating habits and likely you will find an emotional attachment to foods. So in essence, it’s not about the right diet or perfect foods, but rather it’s about dealing with the emotional and psychological factors—dealing with the “why” behind the eating behavior and unfortunately, there’s not one magical fix for that. The journey requires deep introspection and honesty. It requires a commitment to work hard, despite some setbacks along the way. If you want “it” bad enough, you’ll fight hard for it. The question you have to ask yourself: is it worth it? I hope you find the answer is an emphatic YES!
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