In the beginning of the month I talked about focusing on habits instead of weight loss. This is kind of contrary to what we are being bombarded with on the television and internet right now. Everywhere we turn it is about weight loss and the brand new product that can change our lives. Unfortunately, as much as we want to see the numbers go down some magic potion or staring at the scale each week is not going help us lose the weight – I wish it worked like that. The only way to get healthy, lose weight, and keep it off is to change our habits. More than that you need to make those new habits routine – meaning you need to do them naturally without having to think too much about it.
One of my favorite quotes is “motivation is what gets you started habit is what keeps you going”? This quote, in my opinion, sums up the essence of losing weight and keeping it off.
We are all excited and super motivated to start changing our lives – that’s why there is so much insane marketing right now trying to get us to buy everything – but what happens when that motivation dwindles, we get busy, or start burning out? For many of us, we give up and go back to our not so healthy habits and routines. Therefore, the goal is to change our habits and routines. Stress is going to happen, there is no way around it, so if we focus on replacing our bad habits with healthier ones we are more likely to make better choices when faced with weak moments. This is not to say you will never slip up but when habits become routine then they become a part of who you are. Most likely, you will turn to your new habits without even thinking about it.
To give you an example from my own experience, last year I did not lose any weight and actually gained a few pounds. Looking back, while I am not happy about the weight gain I am happy that I did not gain all of it back. I guess you can say I maintained my weight loss. I did this through accountability (this blog) and establishing new healthy habits over the last 2 years that support the lifestyle I want. Again, changing our habits is the only way to get healthy, lose weight, and more importantly sustain that weight loss.
If you are not sure where to start and all the weight loss information is getting overwhelming then I recommend taking a step back and focusing in on these 5 habits. Each ones supports my theme or mantra of “getting back to the basics”. At first you might find yourself saying I don’t like this or it is not working for me. What that really is are your old habits fighting your new ones. Remember it takes about 3 weeks to form a new habit so try to be patient with yourself and the process.
Keep an Online Food Journal
Are you sick of hearing me talk about food journaling yet? I can’t help it! This one habit can make such a HUGE difference in your life. HUGE! In fact, if you do nothing else but start tracking your food I am confident you will start seeing changes. I use the free online food journal My Fitness Pal.
If you are not seeing changes make sure you are tracking correctly. You might need to measure out your foods to make sure to get accurate portions and servings – don’t eyeball it at first! The first few months of my weight loss the only thing I did was track food. This allowed me to learn about the foods I was eating, portion control, and to be accountable and intentional with the food.
Make Your Foods Ahead of Time
Making your food ahead of time helps you eat healthier, reduce your stress, and save money – so why not give it a try? By making your meals ahead of time you control the ingredients in your food and the amount you eat. Also, you are much less likely to go out to eat when you have foods ready. Not only will this save you on calories but you will save more money too. Before Matt and I started making foods ahead of time we were spending close to $400+ a month on takeout. I know it is embarrassing to even write that. But now we save money and eat healthier just by making our meals ahead of time. I guess you can say I got skinny jeans and fat wallet!
Exercising 30 minutes a day
Food is only part of the equation the other one is exercise. Sure you can lose weight by reducing your calories but it is much easier when adding in some exercise. Not to mention it helps you tone, reduce stress, and gives you more energy. If you are a regular reader you already know this habit is one that I fight with all the time. To this day I have not found a way to make exercise a routine that I just do. It is more of a battle that I keep fighting. However, I am not giving up because I know the benefits of adding in this last piece of the puzzle.
Drink more water
Do you know that when you are hungry your body might be telling you that you’re thirsty? Yep, that is what I learned reading clean eating for dummies. Drinking water keeps you hydrated and helps you keep from grabbing snacks and mindless eating. If you drink a lot of soda, juice, or caffeinated beverages try swamping out water for some of them. If you do this you will start to eventually see a real difference in your health.
Wake up early
I threw this one in because it helps me with the rest of my habits. I love waking up early. It lets me have time to myself, get my thoughts together, and make time for other things that I need to get done such as working out, blogging, or some reading. When I give myself extra time in the morning I feel less stressed and more focused. It is hard to start waking up early because let’s face it snuggling in a warm bed is much more appealing. However, in my experience it only takes me about a week or so for my body to adjust to an earlier schedule. Give it a try and see if it works for you.
Remember it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. At first some (or all) of these habits might bring you out of your comfort zone. That is okay and to be expected. Don’t give up. Keep working to fit these habits into your life in a way that works for you and your family. Each of us is different and what works for one may not work for another.
What other basic habits do you suggest focusing on?