From time to time I’ll be posting weight loss articles, tips and plans on this blog. This blog is more of a diary for me than anything else, so if you happen upon it and want to share something with me, I’d be happy to hear it! If you want a weight loss buddy, I’d be happy to be there for you!
My first article was one I found in the Parade magazine in Sunday’s paper. I’ve heard some of this info recently at TOPS and it really made me think or rethink weight loss. I hope it gives you something to ponder as well.
You can find the article in it’s entirety at Parade.com.
IT’S A NEW DAY
Make Changes That Last
by Chip and Dan Heath
We all begin the year with the best of intentions. We write a list of worthy resolutions and we follow through on them for a while. But as inevitably as February follows January, most of us end up slipping back into our old habits.
Making changes that last isn’t easy. Yet after analyzing decades of scientific research and case studies, we’ve discovered that there are simple things you can do to snap the cycle of busted resolutions.
4 Ways to Stop Procrastinating
First, you need to know how your mind works. Your brain has two independent systems: the emotional side, the instinctive part that feels pain and pleasure; and the rational side, the analytical part that deliberates and plans. We like to use the analogy of the Elephant (the emotional side) and the Rider (the rational side) from psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be in charge. But because he is small, he’ll lose to the Elephant whenever they conflict. You experience this whenever you act against your better judgment and hit your alarm clock’s snooze button, have one drink too many, or procrastinate.
When your efforts to change fail, it’s because of the emotional Elephant. He likes instant gratification, and most changes require making short-term sacriﬁces for long-term payoffs: say, skipping potato chips today for a better body come summer. But the Elephant isn’t all bad. He has energy and drive, the power to get things done. Those are the opposite of the rational Rider’s weaknesses: overanalyzing and overthinking. For changes to last, they must appeal to both sides of your mind. Here are the basic principles.
You Can Learn to Make Better Decisions
Give yourself crystal-clear directions. Vague resolutions like “Be healthier” or even “Lose weight” are doomed, because there are endless ways to interpret those commands. When your brain is given too many options, it’s easy to feel paralyzed. With too many choices, your emotional Elephant tends to gravitate toward the most familiar path, so you’ll fall back on going to your favorite place for a pepperoni pizza. Instead, you need to create a specific goal that leaves nowhere to hide, like “No wine ever,” “Gym every other day,” or “No more cookies.”
The drawback to these black-and-white objectives is they’re not inspiring. It helps your emotional and rational sides to find what we call a “destination postcard”—a vivid image from the near future to show you what’s possible. If your goal is to work out three days a week, find a picture of yourself from a year or two ago in which you look fantastic, and use it as your screensaver. Or hang up the dress or suit you’d love to wear if it weren’t so tight. Just keep the destination reasonable. You’ll be setting yourself up for frustration if you tape up a photo of an Olympic athlete or display jeans you last wore in college.
3 Tips for Handling Big Changes
Keep yourself motivated. A central challenge of pulling off any switch is getting yourself to start—and keep—moving forward. A destination postcard helps; another trick is to shrink your change. Take housecleaning. We all love a clean home, but most of us dread cleaning. But what do we dread? Tossing a shirt in the hamper? Putting a glass in the dishwasher? Nope. We dread the enormity of the task. Cleaning house means taking on closets, rooms, and toilets, and it all feels like too much. To conquer your resistance, try the “Five-Minute Room Rescue” from home-organizing guru Marla Cilley. Get a timer and set it for five minutes. Pick a room, closet, or drawer, and as the timer ticks, clear a path. When the timer buzzes, stop with a clear conscience. Repeat the next day. You should have no trouble conquering these micro-milestones. As you pass them, you’ll begin to feel less reluctant and more hopeful. And hope is essential for making any change stick.
The same principle applies to tackling change on a larger scale. In one town in Canada, the police wanted to create a safer environment. Faced with such a huge goal, they decided to shrink their change. They started by asking all residents to turn on their exterior lights at night. This act made people immediately feel safer after dark, and it was also a clear sign of hope, which said, Yes, things can be different here.
Make your environment support your change. Many of us are blind to how much our situations actually shape our behavior. In countless ways, our surroundings have been carefully designed to make us act in a particular fashion. Trafﬁc engineers want us to drive in a predictable and safe way, so they paint lane markers and install stoplights and road signs. Banks got tired of us leaving our ATM cards in the machine, so we have to remove them before we can get cash. You can also act as your own engineer and tweak your situation so that the right behaviors are easier to do and the wrong ones are harder.
As writers, our bad habit was letting ourselves get constantly distracted by e-mail. To solve the problem, one of us turned off the volume on his computer so he couldn’t hear the enticing bing of incoming mail. The other bought an old laptop that had no wireless Internet access.
You’re probably full of ideas for changes you’d like to make to yourself, your workplace, and your community. Just remember: Change isn’t an event; it’s a process. Think about a child learning how to walk. There’s no single moment when he learns how to do it. He staggers and struggles until, finally, one day he takes a few steps—and then falls down. But he doesn’t give up. He tries again and again, and before too long, he’s running.
Adapted from “Switch: How to Change When Change Is Hard,” by Chip and Dan Heath. To be published by Broadway Books Feb. 16.