Resolution, Not Conflict

The guide to problem-solving.

Want to Lose Weight? Exercise More?

Establishing new eating and exercise habits takes grit plus savvy.

Would you like to lose some pounds?

Want to lose weight? Exercise more? Live a healthier life style?

Two years ago I published a blogpost called Changing Habits Beats Reliance on Willpower. The article was based on Charlie Duhigg's newly released hard-cover book The Power of Habit. This week Charlie's book is being released in paperback, so I took a fresh look at it.  

Just in time! I lost five pounds over the two weeks of out-of-town vacation from which I'm just returning. How can I be sure to keep them off, and maybe even continue my downward trend? Looks to me like I'll need to consciously change my eating routines at home that put those pounds on if I want to lose more weight now.

Charlie's book reminded me of a strategy that just might work. He's releasing the paperback this month because, like me, there might be many people interested in losing weight and exercising more in the New Year.

The Power of Habit reports on studies that indicate how people can take advantage of the 'Habit Loop': To exercise more, for instance, choose a cue like putting your running shoes next to your bed. And then, give yourself a reward—like a piece of chocolate—when you get home from jogging. That way, the cue and the reward become intertwined. Eventually, when your brain sees the sneakers, it starts craving the chocolate and that makes it easier to hit the pavement. 

 

My challenge is to build a new habit of drinking only water instead of eating when I get the urge to nibble in the evening, especially before bedtime. So here's my Lose More Weight Now plan.   

My Lose Weight Now Plan

First, I'll remove all the food cues from view. I'll put the cereal box that I often leave on the kitchen counter back in the cupboard where it belongs. I'll take the pretty bowl of fruit off the kitchen table and store it instead in the refrigerator. And I'll put my attractive glass containers of various kinds of nuts and raisons on an out-of-sight high shelf. 

Second, I'll put a pitcher of water on the kitchen table to remind myself, if I do get hunger pangs, to drink instead of nibbling. 

Third, I'll remind myself then that hunger means that the pounds are probably peeling off. Love that hunger, lose that weight.

Lastly, when I head up to bed I'll hope to get my reward: a nice low number, maybe even lower than the prior evening, on the scale. The scale numbers have been addictive for me the past several weeks when I was reliably sticking to my eating plan. How gratifying to see those numbers slide even just a tad lower almost every evening! 

Thanks Charlie!

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Susan Heitler, PhD is author of the website that teaches the skills folks need for marriage success: poweroftwomarriage.com.  

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is the author of many books, including From Conflict to Resolution and The Power of Two. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University.

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