Diets & quick fixes vs behaviors & habits

This is dedicated to all of you that have tried it all but still feel that are struggling, to the chronic dieters that feel like nothing works for them, to those that are starting to understand that quick fixes don’t work but they do not know what else to do because let me tell you, it’s not you and it’s not your fault. We’ve been misled by the media and the gurus that want to profit from our lack of results in the long term so they can keep selling us more quick fixes, diet books, and miracle pills.

There is not one way to do things and not a single way will work for everyone. You’ve probably heard before that diets don’t work, yet everyone keeps doing them and they seem to work for them, at least for a while, and that’s where the problem is, anyone can lose weight if they find a way to reduce caloric intake no matter what they do to achieve that caloric imbalance, consume fewer calories than you burn and voila, results start happening.

Except that those results are usually short-lived. Sometimes because those diets aren’t sustainable and as soon as the previous behaviors are resumed, they stop working and weight is regained, other times because restriction causes neverending binge/restrict cycles, and sometimes, they plain end up spiraling into unhealthy behaviors.

So, what work you say? What seems to work well, is creating habits by changing behaviors that will last a lifetime instead of short-lived quick fixes that don’t solve anything in the long run and more often than not, may end up being counterproductive or unhealthy.

The key is to take one single behavior at a time and work on it to make it into a habit, and only once this habit becomes so ingrained in you that you don’t have to think about doing it anymore, is that you can introduce another behavior to change and form into another habit. This last step is very important because when we try to change many things at once, none will stick, and guess what? It is not your fault, it is part of human behavior.

This is going to be long but worth the read. It is an excerpt from the book “The Power of Less”. Hope it helps

“Give out one clear task, and 85% of clients can stick to it. Add a second task, and adherence drops to less than 35%. Three tasks – pffft. Now you’ve got less than 10% success.” So start with one habit; ideally, a habit that’s small, manageable, and as practical as possible. When in doubt, simply take your one assigned task and reduce the difficulty by half.

This is the main idea:

1-Select one habit…only one habit per month (ideally one habit for two months). You can choose any habit – whatever you think will have the biggest impact on your life.

2-Write down your plan. You will need to specifically state what your goal will be each day, when you’ll do it, what your “trigger” will be, who you will report to…

3-Post your goal publicly. Tell as many people as possible that you are trying to form your new habit. I suggest an online forum, but you could email it to coworkers and family, and friends or otherwise get the word out to a large group.

4-Report on your progress daily. Each day, tell the same group of people whether or not you succeeded at your goal.”

There are only a few rules you need to follow to make this challenge a success:

-Do only one habit at a time. Do not break this rule, because I assure you that if you do multiple habits at once, you will be much less likely to succeed. Trust me – I’ve tried both ways many times, and in my experience, there is 100% failure for forming multiple habits at once, and a 50-80% success if you do just one habit at a time – depending on whether you follow the rest of these rules.

-Choose an easy goal (behavior). Don’t decide to do something really hard, at least for now. Later, when you’re good at habit changes, you can choose something harder. But for now, do something you know you can do every day. In fact, choose something easier than you think you can do every day. If you think you can exercise for 30 minutes a day, choose 10 minutes – making it super easy is one of the surest ways to ensure you’ll succeed.

-Choose something measurable. You should be able to say, definitively, whether you were successful or not today. If you choose to exercise, set a number of minutes or something similar (20 minutes of exercise daily, for example). Whatever your goal, have a measurement.

-Be consistent. You want to do your habit change at the same time every day, if possible. If you’re going to exercise, do it at 7 a.m. (or 6 p.m.) every day, for example. This makes it more likely to become a habit.

-Report daily. You could check in every 2 or 3 days, but you’ll be more likely to succeed if you report daily. This has been proven over and over again.

-Expect setbacks now and then, but just note them and move on. No embarrassment, no failures.”

There are many habits or strategies that you can pick, (portion control, working on the skills needed to eat mindfully until full, adding protein to every meal, adding vegetables to each meal, moving more, walking daily, etc.) but trying them all together is usually overwhelming and why it seems unrealistic, unsustainable and ends up not working.

Just one simple change practiced over the course of a few months makes a lifetime of difference. Then we can reevaluate and see if there is a need/want to add any other habit that can enrich our lives that we may want to work on.

See if this is something that may work for you, otherwise, as I said before, there are many ways or paths that can lead to where we want to go, we just have to find one that we are comfortable with according to our own preferences and lifestyle.

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