Warning — this contains moments of calling yourself out!
How many of you have suffered from the “eat less exercise more” myth for fat loss?
I’m putting up both of my hands for this one! I’ve been caught up in the endless cycle of running this script. The scary thing is I did it for many years, and these are some of the consequences:
• Low on energy
• Always catching colds and flu
• Exhaustion daily
• Moody and angry
• Excessively hungry and always snacking
• My body became softer, instead of firmer
I honestly believe it’s one of those ingrained habits that us females were born with! I’m sure I have heard this one since I started school, and it’s been a massive part of my life growing up, and the first thing I turned to for a weight loss solution.
The only reason I ever stopped using this method was when I had a very in-depth discussion with another trainer. He said it was the one negative characteristic all his female clients had and something that would take many months of convincing to break that pathway towards weight loss. It was a huge inhibitor for better health and the physique they wanted. To be completely genuine here, I sometimes feel this very statement comes up from time to time, despite all the knowledge, research and experimentation over many years. It doesn’t work, but why do we keep going back to this very debilitating strategy.
I believe it’s got a lot to do with Habits.
Habits form unconsciously, and like driving a car, if it’s something we have been doing for many years, it becomes an instant occurrence as soon as we get in the car. We know how to operate the vehicle, we are aware of our destination, then we take the necessary steps to move that car into the direction of our journey. The same goes for fitness and health habits. Once we commit to exercising 3–4 times a week, in the evenings, it becomes a habit. Our bag is ready the day before, our shake is in the bottle, and everything is prepared when we leave.
What happens when you don’t make this habit on a particular day. How does your body feel? How about your mind and energy levels? It’s startling when you look at it this way because it feels like something isn’t right, and that brings a sense of panic within us. Do you resonate with this?
What goes inside everyone’s mind, and therefore is brought out within our bodies, will be different for everyone. So that you know, this is entirely normal and will occur in the beginning. Imagine if you are trying to eliminate a particular food from your diet. The first couple of weeks can be quite hard — especially if you LOVE the food. But when you become accustomed to not having it, the feeling of panic or the craving goes away. See, we get addicted somewhat to those things we keep doing day in day out, and even if it’s not good for us, we keep doing them because it’s on an unconscious level.
Therefore, how do we break this addiction that’s unconscious and deep within our psyche?
Here are the three steps to breaking the habit — warning; they are uncomfortable but necessary!
- Call yourself out!
The first thing you need to do is to be aware that you are doing it. That’s step number one because most of the time, no one want’s to admit to themselves they are eating a doughnut or two every day. It’s like we’re telling on ourselves, and we’ve been naughty! When you tell yourself that this is what you have been doing, it can be confronting. This is step number one. Confront yourself, and be honest about what you’ve been doing.
- Call yourself out, just as you used to tell on your sibling for doing something wrong as a kid. You need to be well aware of what you are doing, as sometimes we will grab a bit of junk-food and not even realise it! Yes, it does happen to people.
2. Why do you keep doing this?
Habits keep us from getting hurt and possibly experiencing something negative. We need to get down deep and ask ourselves, why are we doing this. Are we exercising excessively to stop ourselves from gaining weight? Are we eating a doughnut because we are trying to sabotage our fat loss habits? Are we under-eating because we are afraid of losing our body shape? These are incredibly uncomfortable points, and it’s confrontational, but when we are honest about it to your selves, it’s the very first step to changing it.
3. Decide now that you want to stop it.
Is this something you want to change? If so, why do you want to change it, what is it currently doing to you that’s negative or positive. Write this down on paper and read it over and over. See how it’s been a liability to your weight loss and health goals. This is important
- Write down as many reasons as you can as to why you want to stop this
4. Replace it with something else.
Selecting a new habit for replacing the old one is helping you to fill that void. When we don’t fill that void, it’s a lot easier to fail and go back to the old habit. One option would be to choose another form of exercise, rather than endless cardio. Why not add strength training or a yoga class. Perhaps walk more? Instead of eating a doughnut replace it by calling a friend, drinking a hot tea, or doing a fun activity. Instead of spending hours at the gym exercising, you can limit your time to one hour, and go out with a friend to do a particular mutual activity.
What we need to realise is that a habit is helping us with something that we may be feeling or experiencing. For instance, I used to chew a lot of gum at particular times during work. This was a terrible habit I developed to deal with stress. The feeling would come up and instantly, and I would grab a chewing gum piece to chew the pressure away, or to ease how uncomfortable I felt. This turned into some significant stomach and digestive issues. Eventually, I had to go cold turkey, as it was causing a lot of damage to my stomach. What did I replace it with? I started to drink a whole lot more water and peppermint tea. This helped a lot as peppermint tea naturally eases my stress levels. I also keep peppermint oil close by.
I hope this helps you break some of those inbuilt habits in your life. If we don’t recognise what ‘we’re doing, someone else is sure to. As Les Brown puts it “you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.”
All my love