When we start thinking about losing weight it is so easy to get overwhelmed.
It’s easy to make it all SO complicated. We have to eat these foods. Or, we have to ride our bike THIS many times for THAT long.
We start having all of these crappy thoughts like “It’s never worked before, why will it work now?” or, “I have always failed at this. I am just going to fail again.”
I know that when I lost my weight I had a deep desire to feel good about myself. It became really clear to me early on that it wasn’t actually the weight loss I wanted. What I wanted was to feel amazing.
You see, I wanted to feel powerful and strong. I wanted to be able to keep up with my son.
It became clear that I wanted to live a long time so that I could be around for him and for ME for a long time!
Once I got clear on my reason for losing weight, I had to figure out once and for all how to do it. I wanted to lose weight for the last time.
It was clear that following this diet or that plan that was made up by someone else for someone who wasn’t like me was NEVER going to work.
I had a LOT of evidence of that! It never worked before!
Whenever I did someone else’s diet, or someone else’s plan, I would have some success but then quickly found it to be unsustainable.
It was restrictive. I was will-powering my way through life!
Not sure about you, but I, for one, do NOT have a lot of willpower.
If something isn’t easy and feels hard? I say “eff it”, give up, and go on my merry way.
So, given all of this, it’s not so surprising that every time I would lose some weight I gained all of it back. And usually a few extra pounds too.
When I decided once and for all I was going to lose weight for the last time, I knew it had to be different. I had to lose weight my way.
Anything I did had to be something that I was willing to do forever.
What I needed (and what YOU need too!) was to figure out which habits to eliminate, and which habits to add.
Curious about how to do this? Read on for my tips on how to form a good weight loss habit!
Step 1: Start By Identifying Habits that Will Help You Lose Weight
Go ahead. Get out a journal, a notebook, or a google doc and brainstorm all of the things that you think you need to do to lose weight.
Put it all out there.
Seriously…all of it.
The thing is that you likely have some idea of what sorts of things have worked, and what things have not.
Don’t worry just yet about putting unreasonable stuff on the list, and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed! This is just a brainstorming session. I promise you we are not going to do ALL of the things…in fact, we will be doing the exact opposite.
We are going to intentionally cross off a bunch of stuff on the list. The idea for right now is to just get down all of your thoughts.
If you find yourself getting stuck, think about the things that you know facilitate weight loss that are doable.
For example, you probably know that you need to drink enough water, and get enough sleep. Put those suckers on the list!
Step 2: Cross Off ANYTHING You Aren’t Willing to Do FOREVER
This step is SO freaking important. You humored yourself in step 1 and put all that stuff on the list that you think worked once.
Like that time that you didn’t eat any carbs or sugar for a week or even a month and you lost a bunch of weight (spoiler: it wasn’t actually fat you lost in that short period of time…but we will save that discussion for another day).
Or that time that you logged every single little thing you ate into My Fitness Pal or some other dumb app…again for a week or a month and saw some results.
Now, if you hate carbs, and you love tracking all the things and these are easy and doable for you, then go for it!
But if you are like me, you love carbs. You see them as the fuel for your bike rides and they taste freaking good. I feel like cutting carbs out of my diet isn’t sustainable, doable, or even GOOD for me, so why the hell would I do it?
Also, if you are anything like me, you can be gung ho for tracking things for a hot minute, but then your LIFE gets in the way.
You go a day without tracking, then two days, then three, and before you know it that little app has offloaded itself from your phone and it has that little cloud under it that indicates you haven’t used that sucker in a long ass time.
So, go on through your list and cross off all that stuff that you “think” is good for you but you know you aren’t willing to do forever.
If you aren’t doing it forever, the results you get are going to just be temporary, and we are not into temporary! We are doing this for the last time.
Step 3: Pick ONE Habit to Focus On
Yup. You heard me. Just one.
I know, this is really hard. When we want big results we want them, and we want them NOW.
We want to instantly eat all of the right things, ride our bikes every day, get all our water in, and sleep 8 hours a night.
It can feel like we have to do everything all at once in order to maximize our results.
The problem is that our brain HATES this. It gets TIRED. It’s wired to do the same thing over and over again, and if we try to change all of it, all at once, we end up getting overwhelmed and we do none of it. We give up.
A few years ago I picked up a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book literally changed my life. Interested? You can check it out here!
Right at the beginning of Atomic Habits, James Clear suggest that if we focus on getting just 1% better we will end up with incredible results.
This was a game changer for me and my weight loss goals. I finally realized that I could have a big goal, but not every step along the way towards the goal had to be huge.
We can’t change or build all of the habits at once. It just isn’t sustainable. But, if we focus on mastering one small habit at a time, then we can move on to the next, and the next, and the next.
Step 4: Make it Easy
The next step is to make it easy for you to stick with your new habit. James Clear talks about this too!
Basically, he says you want to take something you are already in the habit of doing and “stack” the good habit on top of it. He calls this “habit stacking.”
So, if you want to get in the habit of getting 64 oz of water in a day, you can plan to drink that water with something else you already do. Since you are already in the habit of getting up in the morning (I mean, who isn’t!) you can put a glass of water by your bed at night, and drink it as soon as you get up before you do anything else.
By pairing a desired habit with something you already do, you are setting yourself up for success and making it that much easier to build the desired habit and get it to a point where it’s automatic.
Step 5: Stay on Task By Asking What The “You” Who Has Lost Her Weight Would Do
OK, yeah, I know this one is a little bit of a mouthful, but hear me out.
You just aren’t always going to feel like doing the thing that brings you closer to your weight loss goals.
When you are working on building new habits and you are tempted to blow them off, ask yourself “What would future me do?”
In other words…the “you” who has already lost her weight. What would she do in this situation? Would she skip her morning glass of water? Would she shovel food in while she is standing in front of the pantry without even thinking about it?
What would SHE do?
She would probably drink the water because it’s automatic and just something that she does to keep her body hydrated.
She would likely not even be standing in front of the pantry after a hard day at work because she has learned how to actually feel her stress and not eat it.
When you talk to your future self and make the decisions that she would make, you are bringing yourself that much closer to having the results that she has. The results that you want. The result of losing weight.
A Final Note
Remember, it takes time to form a habit. Think of all of the habits that you currently have…like brushing your teeth, driving to work. Your brain has been working on doing those things for a long time.
Take advantage of the things you are currently in the habit of doing. Every time that you want to form a new habit, see if there is a way to attach it to one that you already have.
You want to make habit forming and weight loss as easy as possible. Your brain will try to make it hard by complicating it, and trying to convince you that the small gains that you are making by changing one habit at a time aren’t going to get you the results you want.
Be patient. Don’t give up. You will lose weight. One good habit at a time.