Habits and Weight Loss

Why does it feel so hard to make necessary changes in our lives to meet our goals?  Change is uncomfortable and can feel overwhelming, and sometimes impossible.  No wonder it is so easy for people to start, stop, then start, then stop again when working towards their goals.  We all have habits that have become so perfunctory in our everyday life, that our subconscious mind will fight tooth and nail against all logic and desire to change in order to keep things exactly as they are.  Despite our weight loss and fitness goals and desires, if we don’t devote serious energy into changing the long-standing habits that are responsible for where we are, then we have the potential to “fall of the weight loss wagon” and start moving in the opposite direction of our goals.

Habits defined:

What are habits?  Quite simply, habits are a cycle made up of a cue, a routine, and a reward that our subconscious minds have learned to expect over time.  If “A” happens, then our brain is triggered to perform “B”, and “C” is our oh-so-sweet reward.  The longer our habit loop has been in existence, the deeper the grooves are rooted in our subconscious.  Despite a common misconception, habits can never be deleted from our brains if a cue is presented.  Once the habit is there, the only way to “break” it is to eliminate the cue or change how we respond to the stimulus.  Sounds easy enough, right? Changing a habit is no walk in the park, as I’m sure you have witnessed.  But if you have a goal of becoming a healthier version of yourself, the willingness to change, the willpower to see that change through, and the ability to give yourself grace throughout your imperfect journey, you CAN and WILL make it happen!

Take a moment to jot down some habits that may be hindering your health and fitness progress.  A big one that we hear from our weight loss clients at Vitality, and one that I was impacted by, is drinking empty calorie drinks (specifically wine).  This habit can completely derail your weight loss journey, providing unnecessary calories and slowing or stopping the fat burning process for up to 12 hours at a time. Let’s unpack this habit loop to see how to change the harmful habits and snuff out progress.  

When I plateaued in my weight loss, several months ago, I decided to dig in and find out what habits needed some attention.  I realized that I was consuming a ton of empty calories each night drinking red wine.  I tried to cut back, and it felt so hard!  Once 5pm hit, my three boys were home and circling me in the kitchen while I was trying to prepare dinner…..I can feel my anxiety bursting into my throat just thinking about that time of day in our household!  So, there is my obvious cue.  My response to that cue was to open a bottle of wine, and the reward was that my stress and anxiety would decrease, and I felt relaxed. 

My “wine” habit loop:

Stress and anxiety around 5pmDrink red wineDecrease in stress and anxiety

When I became aware of the cues that were causing me to reach for the wine, and the time of day that it typically occurred, I felt absolutely determined to make a change!  My new routines for this habit loop included making a hot cup of homemade bone broth at 4:30pm to sip slowly during my “witching hour,” starting the dinner-making process by chopping up fresh veggies, such as cucumbers and celery to munch on while I cooked, and pouring some sparkly water in a wine glass with a slice of lime to feel like I was having a relaxing beverage.  The cues stayed the same and remarkably, so did the reward, but the new routines took my weight loss to a whole different level. 

Instead of a nightly cocktail, try one cup of bone broth to stave off cravings.

As I mentioned previously, you cannot “delete” a habit when a cue is presented, but you can certainly remove the cue so that the loop is never initiated.  In my habit loop example above, I found that I was able to remove the cue, preventing the loop from ever starting.  I did this by going out for a walk or jog, reading a devotional by myself in my room, or getting a babysitter so my husband and I were able to leave the home during the times that I would normally be “cued.”  When I changed my normal environment at that specific times of day, the cue was removed as were my routine responses, and new healthier habits were created!  

Through identification of the negative loops in my journey, elimination of the cues whenever possible, and developing several healthy replacement routines, I am being pushed closer to my goals rather than them stalling out or being pushed farther away.   Once I learned how to break the habits down that were no longer serving me into the habit loop, I was able to initiate lasting change.  

A note on alcohol consumption:

Drinking alcohol does not just add empty calories to your daily intake.  Once alcohol is consumed, your body focuses on eliminating the alcohol as it is viewed by the body as a toxin.  The body stops burning fat for up to 12 hours and actually stores the fat and glucose that you have consumed until the alcohol is completely eliminated from your system.  By joining the Vitality Weight Loss family, you are making a huge commitment and investment into becoming the healthiest version of yourself.  Give yourself the best chance for success and refrain from regular consumption of alcoholic beverages.

All of that being said, there are plenty of Vitality approved staple beverages that will help you to be successful and fully reap the benefits of this lifestyle change. 
·      La Croix is refreshing and crisp and has been the perfect evening beverage for out clients in place of their normal glass of wine or beer. You will begin to look forward to a nightly La Croix in your favorite glass or mug. Throw in a slice of lime for a “fancier” feel. 
·      Dr. ZeviaThis is a phenomenal substitute for Dr. Pepper and is what has gotten many of our clients over their soda habits. They have a variety of flavors and are made with Stevia…..zero calories and zero sugar.   *** Some Zevia products may contain caffeine
·      Bone Broth is a nutrient dense, filling, gut healing, comforting, collagen filled, natural anti-aging serum. Make your own, or purchase Kettle and Fire for a delicious, on-the-go option. One cup of bone broth is also an incredible tool to stave off that nagging “snacking” hunger.