by Wayne Salter, Owner of Fit B
Sooo, it’s February already? Boy, I bet you’re making huge advancements on your New Year’s resolutions, right?
Odds are, you’re not. If this year’s resolution was to lose weight, or to reach some other fitness goal, odds are you’ve had a hard time keeping this commitment. You may have already fallen back into old habits, or perhaps never improved upon your habits at all. If there’s been little to no change, I’ll explain some possible reasons why you’re not making progress, and how to get back on track!
We all know what we WANT to do, and we think we know what we SHOULD be doing. So why don’t we do it?
WE DON’T DEFINE A MEANINGFUL “WHY”.
If we want something badly enough, we determine a way to get it. We search for answers, methodically think things through, and make the (usually) uncomfortable changes required to achieve what we desire. But if our “why” is not MEANINGFUL enough, we retreat into old habits when the going gets tough. Perhaps we started out 2019 thinking, “It would be nice to lose about 10 pounds this year”. This doesn’t sound very determined, does it?
But if a doctor told us, “You’ll die in six months if you don’t lose 10 pounds,” that would be a motivating call to action. But it doesn’t have to be that extreme! Think deliberately in order to define and verbalize some really good reasons WHY change is necessary and worthwhile.
WE TAKE ON TOO MUCH, TOO SOON.
This is a common problem with weight loss goals. We shift our priorities suddenly and instill dramatic new habits too quickly and somewhat impulsively. We decide that we’ll exercise six days a week for an hour and eat only salads and drink only water, but we need to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight! As much as we want to see immediate weight loss and fitness results, we have to be practical. We didn’t gain weight overnight, and we won’t lose it overnight. We cannot fast-track any body transformation process. Instead, we need to make a series of smaller changes that are deliberate—ones to which we can realistically stick.
WE CREATE A VACUUM.
We do things for a reason. Even if we’re not being served for the better, we make routine choices from which we perceive some kind of benefit. For example, let’s say we drive-thru for a breakfast biscuit each morning because it’s easy and quick; it occupies our taste buds on the way to work. We know a fast food option may not be the best choice for weight loss, but it’s part of our morning routine and it satiates hunger with little to no effort on our parts. We haven’t defined or committed to a healthier, better alternative, thus creating a vacuum; it is a vicious cycle of perceived reward and later regret.
If we’re trying to STOP a bad habit, we must first identify the ways in which that habit “rewards” us. Stopping that drive-thru habit will happen when we develop ways to meet the same need—satiating hunger—while still receiving the same perceived benefit—convenience. We can REPLACE the drive-thru habit with a healthier action at home by taking just a few minutes to prepare a portable, healthier, and filling option at home to carry with us on our commutes. When we eliminate the need to buy a calorie-filled breakfast after leaving home, we’ve set the tone for staying on track and fulfilled throughout the day.
WE DON’T HAVE A PLAN.
If we started the year with a general “wish” to lose weight, but didn’t identify the literal steps we need to take to do so, then it’s likely our resolutions didn’t survive more than a few days before we threw in the towel.
Similar to the vicious cycles of reward and regret that we perpetuate by creating habitual “vacuums”, we derail our efforts and goals when we don’t preempt temptations. In this case, if we don’t formulate concrete plans at home to keep us from arriving to work hungry, we end up eating all the donuts in the break room!
OUR OLD HABITS ARE TOO EASY.
For example, if we keep our phones accessible at work, we get distracted. If our alarms have a “snooze” function handy, we use it—over and over and over again. And where food choices are concerned, if there’s junk food in the house, we eat it.
One fix for this: CREATE “friction”. Make performing these habits “less easy” to do. If phones are a distraction at work, we can silence our notifications and put devices in drawers. If we’re not getting out of bed on time, we can relocate our clocks to the other side of the room so we have to physically get up to turn off alarms. And when trying to lose weight, if there is junk food in the house, we should hide it in the back of the pantry where it’s not as visible and harder to reach.
OUR NEW HABITS AREN’T EASY ENOUGH.
This is the reverse of #5. When forming new habits, we want to REDUCE “friction”. Put out apples in a dish so a healthy snack is within sight and easy reach. Lay out tomorrow’s workout clothes and shoes if planning on walking the following morning. Pack up healthy snacks before going to bed so grabbing and going to work the next day takes little or no effort.
Ultimately, willpower alone will not carry us very far. We are creatures of habit and enjoy the comforts of food, home and leisure. Making meaningful change is difficult, but worthwhile and rewarding. Remembering these pointers and using these tools and suggestions will help in taking steps towards better, healthier versions of ourselves.
To discuss how we can help YOU reach YOUR fitness and/or weight loss goals, either with our indoor boot camp program or our online coaching plans, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org , or on Facebook.