Day 7--15 Shifts to Lose Weight with the real Healthy Habits Approach

Astronauts are the ultimate habit makers. They practice and practice until every toggle, every switch, and every checklist is automatic. 

So today I'm giving you a chance to practice the important habits that we have already made.

We have put 2 very simple, but powerful habits in place.

  • Reading your 5 Why Statement 

  • Getting on the Scale Each Morning 

The 5 Why Statement reminds both the Boss and the Assistant parts of your brain that weight loss is a priority today. Weighing yourself daily reminds the Assistant that what you do today matters for your weigh-in tomorrow.

We also reviewed some very important concepts:

    • Long term weight loss depends on retraining the sub-conscious Assistant part of your brain

    • 5 Whys--Weight loss is not just about fitting in smaller jeans (although that's nice ;-)

    • Success with the Real Healthy Habits program can have a lot broader definition than just one number

Today's mission is to become aware of the core philosophies that guide the RHH approach to health and weight loss to get an idea where you’re headed. ( FYI-there’s no video today. Just an article and a life-changing PDF.)

Knowing and implementing these Shifts can 10x your weight loss results with a habit approach (Ok, I totally made up that statistic, but in order to get to the Freedom Galaxy, you will need to REALLY know these.)

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I want to talk about what it looks like to use a healthy habit approach in your life to reach your health and weight loss goals.

The reason I bring this up is because so many people have tried diets before and they know what it looks like to diet. They learn some tricky, arbitrary rules, deprive themselves, lose weight, and then it creeps back on.

You’all know what that looks like.

But what does it look like to have a habit approach?

What’s the big picture?

What's the destination?

What do I need to do to end up with the right healthy habits?

What does that even mean? 

So, let’s talk about that—what a Real Healthy Habit approach looks like.

15 Shifts to Lose Weight & Keep it Off

Let’s go through the 15 Shifts to Lose Weight and Keep it Off which are the mindset shifts and habits that my most successful clients make to get healthy and lose weight for good. These are the core changes that you’ll be making with the Real Healthy Habits approach.

Of course, each shift and habit will be personalized just for you. In week 6’s coaching session, we will chart your own personal star map of habits to work on.

1. Enjoy yourself more.

Everyone naturally wants to do what feels good in the moment. We can harness that power to reach our goals if we eat more healthy foods that taste delicious or we choose movement that we love. Eating right or exercise becomes a gift we give ourselves rather than a chore if we focus on how good they make us feel. It’s hard to believe, but losing weight can be enjoyable if we make sure that our healthy food tastes great and our exercise is fun.

2. Become a scientist.

We have a tendency to think that if we aren’t tough on ourselves, we will never lose weight. However, research shows that people who have self-compassion are more successful in the long run. I like to think of our weight loss journey as an experiment. A scientist does not get mad if her experiment did not go as planned. Instead, she takes the data, analyzes it, comes up with a new strategy, and tries again. If we aren’t successful with our goal or habit, we probably just need a new strategy.

3. Use willpower sparingly and to make good habits.

Most people think of willpower as something you use to keep yourself from making bad choices. Instead, as much as possible we want to rely on our habits to make good choices—not willpower. For example, instead of using willpower to keep ourselves from eating Oreos, we make a habit to only buy foods that are on our shopping list. So, we would never have to resist Oreos. They wouldn’t ever be in our cupboards in the first place. We use a small amount of willpower to make good habits-- rather than using a lot of willpower over and over again to avoid temptation.

4. Listen to your body.

Awareness will allow you to change what you eat without forcing yourself. If you notice when you are satisfied, you will stop eating. It does not feel good to overeat—not even one bite. Also, eating healthier foods versus eating sugary foods becomes easier as you notice how your body feels afterwards. This may take practice to get good at, so give yourself a break if you aren’t perfect.

5. Use the number on the scale for evaluation not success.

Research shows that people who weigh themselves more often, lose more weight. However, getting too invested in the number on the scale can be “crazy-making.” It is impossible for weight to go down steadily every day. Instead, look at the trend of the numbers as evidence as to whether the habits or strategies you are using are working. Success is not based on a number, but instead success is defined by the process of working on our habits.

6. Eat smaller portions and enjoy each bite.

Americans have lost sight of what a portion should be. In the 1950’s our dinner plate size was 9” and now it is a staggering 12”. Our norms of what we should eat have gotten bigger, and so have our waistlines. Choosing smaller plates and bowls, allow us to naturally eat less. Also, if we slow down our eating, our stomachs have enough time to communicate to our brains that we are satisfied. There are also theories that we need to notice the smell and taste of our food to feel satisfied. Eating more slowly and mindfully allows us to be satisfied with smaller meals.

7. Develop meal templates.

Research shows that people who eat the same meals over and over lose more weight. Repetition allows your behavior to become a habit with no decisions or willpower required. You don’t have to eat the exact same foods, but having a personalized meal template can help you to lose weight without using willpower.

8. Turn down the reward centers in your brain.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of reward. Dopamine is released in the brain when we eat sugar and other tempting foods. Along with changes in blood sugar levels, the dopamine release causes us to crave these foods even more. We can turn down this system by focusing on eating less processed foods. Michael Pollan identifies processed foods as “Anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce,” “Anything that won’t eventually rot,” or “Anything that your grandmother would not recognize as food.” We want to eat food not “food like substances” to turn off our cravings.

9. Know your radioactive foods.

Everyone has foods that I consider radioactive. These are foods that are so scrumptious to us that we find it very difficult not to overeat—even if we are paying attention to our bodies. These foods need special rules to allow us to remain in control. We need to be honest with ourselves about those foods and come up with strategies for them.

10. Do as much real movement as possible.

You don’t have to go to the gym to be healthy. Scientists have identified areas of the world where people live the longest—called Blue Zones. Blue Zones include places like Okinawa, Japan and Sardinia, Greece. Okinawans or Sardinians aren’t running on the treadmill or doing pilates. They just move a lot throughout their day. Gyms were invented because we have “industrial revolutionized” movement out of our lives. Let’s find ways to put natural movement back into our lives.

11. Sleep and stress need to be managed.

In our age of distraction, we need a plan to get enough sleep. Sleep is not a luxury, but it is part of the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Along with food, water, and oxygen, we will die without it. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep can have disastrous effects on your hormones and weight. Prioritize it and track it. The same goes with stress. Simple techniques like taking deep breaths can move us from fat-storing “ fight-or- flight” mode to fat-burning “rest-and-digest” mode. Chronic, unrelenting stress can wreak havoc on our weight loss efforts, so let’s work on relaxing.

12. it really is about the small things.

Small habits add up over time. This is one comment that I get over and over from my clients. “I wouldn’t have believed how it was the small things that made all the difference.” Switching to water instead of soda, getting 10000 steps a day, sleeping an hour more, eating salad first, using a smaller plate-- these small habits are ones that my clients said over and over again make all the difference in their weight loss. Consistency will trump heroic, short term attempts at weight loss every time.

13. plan ahead.

Life does not always run smoothly (bet you never noticed that!) My most successful clients develop plans for when all goes well, and then they have backup plans for when it doesn’t. By looking a week ahead and anticipating challenges to your normal healthy routines, you can keep making progress towards your goals.

14. control your environment.

As much as we want to think that all of our behavior is guided by our choices, this is very far from the truth. It’s estimated that 45% of our actions are determined by habits. I’m guessing that another 30%- 40% of our actions are determined by cues in our environment. For example, people snack 40% less if their kitchen is clean and uncluttered. People weigh 20 pounds more if they leave cereal boxes on their counter. Getting rid of temptations and cues can make your weight loss and maintenance easier.

15. develop support systems.

One of the most powerful influences on our behavior is that of our peer groups. Including health conscious people in your circle of friends can make all the difference in your long-term weight loss success. All you may need to do is share what your goals are and what you have learned from to make your friends into allies in your weight loss. You may also find it helpful to spend time with someone who has habits that you want to emulate. Be sure to get your husband involved and ask him to join you in this journey.