The Science of Change: Weight (Change) Management Part 2 #MakeAChange
For years, scientists have studied how and why some people change and others don’t, even when both groups say they want to change. They have done this by looking at folks who try to quit drinking, smoking, or using other substances. In other words, they studied people who were making monumental, kick-ass life changes.
Based on this, we have a science to making life changes. Habits are hard to alter, so if you’re going to make an effort, why not use science to make it worthwhile?
I am focusing on weight management, but these ideas apply to any habit changes you make in life.
1. Be super clear about what you want to change — be specific. If you want to cut shit out of your diet, say that. If you want to exercise, say that. If you want to lose weight, clearly state how much. State a very clear goal. Then, set a date far enough in advance that you can be highly prepared.
2. Make a long list of pros and cons to the change you propose. (Yes, there are cons, like the pain of not being able to do anything you want.) If your pros list is longer, you are ready. If your cons list is longer, you may not be so ready. If they are equal, you are conflicted. If you are not clearly ready, learn more about the benefits of change. See if you can tip the balance.
3. Make a comprehensive list of the behaviors that will need to change in order for you to reach your goal. Spend a lot of time here because it will pay off. Imagine that you are being a coach to yourself. Study yourself over the course of a week to identify the specific behaviors that are a problem. Write it all down. BE HONEST! Lying to yourself is a total waste of time. Change is a choice. If you aren’t honest, perhaps you aren’t ready to change. If you attempt change based on bad data, you only defeat yourself. Why bother with that torture?
4. Take the list from #3, and write down every single thing you can think of that will get in your way.
5. Take your list from #4, and write down every single thing you can think of to crush each thing that will get in your way. Make a toolbox. Perhaps one thing that will get in the way of weight loss will be stress (e.g., stress eating). You can try a visualization exercise. If that doesn’t work, you can try journaling. If that doesn’t work, you can call a friend. The more tools you have, the more effective you will be.
6. Make a list of things that will trigger you to go back to your old ways. For example, if you like sugar, a holiday party at work will be a trigger. Make a list of things you can do to bitch kick the trigger, like bringing your own sugar-free dessert to the party. Did you know that many flavors of sugar free pudding made with one cup of sugar free almond milk add up to 130 calories for the entire box? Add 2 tablespoons of whipped cream for 20 extra calories. With a grand total of 150 calories, you could have a shit ton of mousse. While the mousse won’t taste as good as the death by chocolate cake, you have a choice between eating mousse and feeling empowered or eating death by chocolate cake and feeling self-defeated. You decide.
7. Once you have done this, set your plan into action. Go public for accountability.
8. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. It will relieve tension, and you will be amazed at how effective it is at making immediate hungry impulses go away.
9. Journal. Observe yourself over time. You will be amazed at hidden patterns and negative self-talk.
10. Make a list of positive statements you can say to yourself when you are feeling low. In fact, have an app send you a new one each day. Make that your focus when you feel like giving up or to keep yourself energized.
11. Make a list of arguments you can use when you are having doubts or negative self-talk. Keep this with you so you can pull it out during the day.
12. Don’t let your guard down. I wish I could tell you that after 6 months of making a change that you are done. I don’t think we are ever done. As soon as you say you are done, you increase your chances of going back to your old ways. Have a plan to maintain your successes over time. Don’t let all of your hard work go to waste.
These steps work for losing weight, stopping smoking/drinking, setting boundaries, and most changes in life. The problem is that we get so bogged down in the enormity of change that we don’t do anything. I am telling you that it is doable if you break it down, understand it, and have a plan. You can fucking crush it with science! Go kick some ass.