Habits are an integral part of our lives. Think about all the habits you have, which started in child or early adulthood. While some habits are helpful and beneficial, there are others, for all of us, that need to go. . .
Take parenting for instance. As parents, we change our child(ren)’s habits. Potty training is a great example of this. Since birth, you have allowed your child to poop or pee in his pants. Now, several years into this established routine, you have to retrain his brain to go on a toilet. If you have ever potty-trained a toddler, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you have never potty trained a child, you still know what I am talking about.
At Mind, Body & Soul Fitness, we are working with our weight loss clients, trying to change years of wrong thinking surrounding food. One popular thought is that “Weekends are for Eating.” You would be surprised at how many of our clients see weekends as “mini” holidays or “cheat” days. This is what I want to help you with today: how to reprogram your thought processes so that you will have greater control over your eating. I am happy to be able to share a break-through moment I had with one of my clients. I asked Heather if I could share her story and she kindly agreed.
Heather: “I went to bed super early last night. Yesterday was not one of my better days. I came home from work early and struggled with eating as I’d anticipated I would. It was a snow day with my kids playing outside, then coming in to drink hot chocolate with marshmallows. I was baking cookies and scones to go with it. We are a family that’s always in the kitchen. We feel joy when gathered together and comfort food only makes it that much better. At one point, I left the kitchen to take a shower, so I could take a break and really think about what I was doing. While I didn’t stay on plan (I was picking at the treats), I didn’t totally binge out either. In the past, I would have. I chose to stop eating and move on. I also know I won’t allow one bad day to ruin my progress. I see that this is not about one day, it’s about the journey and reaching my goal destination. In the shower, I kept thinking about how far I’ve come and how I didn’t want to prolong the process. I promised myself I’d stop picking and that instead I would bundle up and shovel some snow!”
Heather: “I have this saying up on my desk at work, it’s one of my favorite quotes and it helps me visualize my weight loss journey. I am also making a paper chain, as per Lesia’s suggestion. This way, I can see my progress. It’s my “retraining-the-brain” chain. I add a link for each pound I lose in white, and then add a link in a different color when I successfully modify my behavior.”
Heather is making very good progress indeed! And in creating the chain, she can see how often she breaks bad food habits. Remember, it is the many small links that make the chain strong.
If you are struggling on the weekends, pick one thing you want to work on to create a new habit. Let’s say your big weekend challenge is “no structure.” Create a small change list. Start with your wake-up time, then choose what time you will have breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. If your big weekend challenge is believing “weekends are for eating big meals” than start with one change: plan out what you will eat and the portion size.
Please know these changes will take time and patience. If your goal is to lose weight and learn to keep it off, there will be several changes needed to get there. It’s a multi-layered approach. Understand that behavior changes need to be a lifetime change. Talk to your food coach if you need more help with this.
Remember, weight loss doesn’t mean you can never have this food or that dish ever again, it means eating all food in moderation. Stabilization goes into more detail about this. But, until then, work on achieving the small links that will absolutely lead to forever success!!