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Unlocking The Weight Loss Puzzle: The Importance of Habit

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The definitive keys to maintaining a healthy body weight are to exercise on a regular basis and make smart food choices. These are certainly not secrets and most people are well aware of their importance. Unfortunately, without implementing the proper habits, most folks will know what to do, but will fail to do what they know.  

Ultimately, everybody who succeeds at maintaining a healthy body weight and fitness level makes exercise and healthy eating a lifestyle. In other words, they have habits that they practice on a regular basis that lead to health and fitness. Their success is not achieved through occasional bursts of activity like crash dieting and short-term exercise programs.  It is through small daily disciplines that they succeed.  

It has been well documented that the key to success in almost any field is mounting a consistent effort in critical impact areas. For example, businesses that succeed are consistently excellent in critical impact areas such as marketing, providing an above-average product or service and managing cash flow. These businesses identify the areas that are most important to their success and become excellent at them. We must do the exact same thing if we are to achieve our weight loss and fitness goals.  

“Success Leaves Clues.” – Jim Rohn 

There is an excellent book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, I highly recommend. The author has pored through research, conducted interviews and intensively studied the psychology and physiology behind our habits as human beings. As a corollary of his studies, Mr. Duhigg uncovered two habits that dramatically increase one’s chances of succeeding to lose weight and become fit. He refers to these as “keystone habits,” or habits or small changes that have a ripple effect on multiple areas of a person’s life. 

If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you will discover that I have discussed both topics ad nauseam. However, I feel it is useful to get a fresh perspective from someone who is grounded in academia. I find it is sometimes necessary to hear the same message from different sources before accepting its validity.  

Habit #1: Exercise   The Power of Habit:  “When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.” (p. 109)  

If you just get out and exercise once per week it can literally change your life. This conclusion is based on multiple studies in publications such as Public Health Reports and Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health. I firmly believe the habit of regular exercise is the keystone habit for healthy and fit adults.  

Habit #2: Food Journaling   The Power of Habit: “It was hard at first. The subjects forgot to carry their food journals, or would snack and not note it…Eventually, it became a habit.  Then something unexpected happened. The participant started looking at their entries and finding patterns they didn’t know existed. Some noticed they always seemed to snack at about 10 a.m., so they began keeping an apple or banana on their desks for mid-morning munchies. Others started using their journals to plan future menus, and when dinner rolled around, they ate the healthy meal they had written down, rather than junk food from the fridge…Six months into the study, people who kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as everyone one else.” (p. 120-121)  

Much like the exercise habit, study after study concludes that food journaling is a keystone habit that leads to weight loss success. I believe that even if this habit is discontinued after 6 to 12 months, most successful participants have developed the habit of keeping a mental food journal as they go through their daily lives, which leads to continued success.  

1+1 = 3  

If you truly want to get fit and maintain a healthy body weight start exercising just once per week and start carrying a food journal right away. Starting both keystone habits at once will provide a  powerful synergistic effect that you will pay almost immediate dividends. Plus, you will be light years ahead of anyone who is “spinning their wheels” on a crash diet or exercise program.

Kickboxing Summit NJ

Making our community healthier & safer, one person at a time.

The Village Shopping Center, 1260 Springfield Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

Proud to offer Kickboxing, Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Protection Strategies to residents of New Providence NJ, Berkeley Heights NJ, Chatham NJ, Stirling NJ, Gillette NJ, Summit NJ, Kickboxing Union County NJ, Morris County NJ and all surrounding areas.

P.S. Visit our website at http://www.BeginKarate.com to learn about our Academy and our programs.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Just Made The List!

This week I’m going to share a concept with you called “the list strategy.” This method is most valuable when you are trying to make changes to your diet for the purpose of eating healthier. However, it can also be a useful part of a weight loss plan as the two often go hand in hand.

We all consume things as part of our diet out of habit, or sometimes simply because they are made available. An example might be having a soda with lunch each day or mindlessly snacking on a bowl of chips at a party. It is estimated that up to ninety-five percent of our behavior is habitual – meaning that we are on auto-pilot for a lot of our daily tasks including eating and drinking.

The goal of this strategy is to raise your level of awareness when it comes to what you are eating and drinking. Then you can make better decisions about what you want to continue to have as part of your diet and what you can cut back on or eliminate completely.

Here are four action steps to implement this strategy:

Step #1: Goal Setting

The first step is to decide what your goals are. Are you looking to reduce sources of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet? Do you want to avoid processed foods? Is your goal to consume less empty calories each day? Having a specific goal is important for success. A goal such as “eating healthier” is a bit too vague and can make it challenging to complete this exercise.

Step #2: Tracking

The next step in this process is to keep track of what you are eating for at least a week. Two weeks would be better, but most people get sick of tracking by the end of week one. It’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything you eat in your head, so get a pad and pen and write down everything you consume for a week. If it passes your lips it goes on the list.

Step #3: Analyzing

After you track what you’ve been eating for a week (or two) it’s time to take a look at your diet objectively. The goal is to examine what you are eating on a regular basis and make a list of the things you must eat less often or eliminate in order to accomplish your goals from Step #1. Remember, items to be eliminated could also be condiments like sour cream, mayonnaise, etc.

Step #4: Experimenting

The goal in Step #4 is to start with just one item from your list and do without it for two weeks. If you find that you really didn’t miss it, perhaps you can eliminate that food or brverage completely. If you find that it is something you really enjoy having in your diet, choose to consume it less frequently (for example, no more than once per week). Repeat this practice until you complete it with all the items on your list.

Naturally, any kind of change, even when it is an improvement, can be uncomfortable. This causes many people to revert back to their old behaviors and fall short of their goals. Choosing what to focus on and using the concept of substitution are two methods that can help “soften the blow” when making improvements to your diet.

Consider choosing what to eat based on how you feel afterwards, rather than how you feel during the meal. For example, you might really enjoy eating a double cheeseburger, fries and a large soda for lunch, but how do you feel afterwards? Are you energized and ready to for the second half of your day or do you feel tired and sluggish with indigestion? Concentrating on how you feel after a meal or a snack is a great way to view healthy eating in a proper perspective – focusing on what you are gaining (health & vitality) rather than what you may be losing (enjoyment from eating certain foods).

Another useful tool is the concept of substitution. For example, if your goal is to cut back on dairy products such as milk, perhaps you can try soy milk or almond milk as an alternative. You might find that you enjoy one of those products just as much as regular milk. It is much easier to replace a habit, rather than totally eliminate it.

Remember, the main objective of this strategy is to raise your level of awareness when it comes to what you are consuming on a regular basis and identify opportunities to improve your nutritional habits. The objective is not to completely eliminate all unhealthy foods and beverages that you enjoy, but rather to find a healthy balance between eating for pleasure and the benefits of a proper diet.

Martial Arts for Life New Providence, NJ

Making our community healthier & safer, one person at a time.

The Village Shopping Center, 1260 Springfield Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

Proud to offer Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Protection Strategies to residents of New Providence NJ, Berkeley Heights NJ, Chatham NJ, Stirling NJ, Gillette NJ, Summit NJ, Union County NJ, Morris County NJ and all surrounding areas.

P.S. Visit our website at http://www.BeginKarate.com to learn about our Academy and our programs.

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October 16, 2012 Posted by | Health & Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment