Monday, July 2, 2012

Putting It Into Practice

So I found The Power of Habit to be pretty empowering.  Just how empowering, I'm ready to put into practice.   Here's the deal:  I'd like to lose eight pounds, and if I'm successful, then an additional eight pounds, for a total weight loss goal of sixteen pounds.  I know from the last few months that simply wishing the weight away doesn't work.  Unfortunately.  However, I think that this time I have a better understanding of what I need to do to succeed.

If you Google "How to lose weight" and then disregard the top couple of links that have you drinking some crazy concoction that will send you into cardiac arrest three months down the road, then the most common answer you'll come up with is to burn 3500 calories more than you eat per pound you desire to lose.  You can choose some sort of online tracker, if you prefer, and come up with some crazy draconian eating plan that eliminates half of your ordinary diet. You follow it anywhere from 15 minutes to 6 weeks, and then it's back to same old, same old.

Then you beat yourself up for not being able to stick to 1400 calories a day, or no white flour, or two hours of kickboxing everyday, or whatever goofy thing seemed like a cure-all this time around.

But never once in that that outwardly-focused undertaking do you examine just exactly what caused those pounds to accumulate in the first place.

Now, I know in my head that I snack too much and that giving up my exercise routine while trying to sell the Big House didn't do me any favors.  But I haven't done a whole lot to stop myself from snacking too much (except not allowing Pringles into the house anymore), and I have done nothing at all to reinstate the exercise habit that I wasn't too sad to let lapse.  I also haven't done anything to change those habits.

Except now I know how to.

So I'm instituting my first ever series.  The plan is:

  1. Establish which habits are causing my biggest problems
  2. Break those patterns down to determine the habit loop for each one
  3. Create a game plan for addressing those habits
  4. Report back on my results
I'm not predicting how many posts will be involved in the series, because for one thing, I may need to do more than one navel-gazing (observation) day to determine exactly how the cue-routine-reward pattern is functioning in my day.  Therefore my series may not be strictly... well... serial.  But I'll mark them to be easy to find so that anyone who wants to see how I progress will be able to track my implementation of Charles Duhigg's ideas pretty easily.  

Also, since this is not a diet plan, but a habit-breaking plan, anyone who wants to follow along should make sure that the navel at which they are gazing is their own rather than mine, and that if said navel tends to have health issues, they should talk to a medical or nutrition professional about how best to shrink the setting for the navel in question.  


  1. Good luck. One thing that helped me was to put food into serving dishes and then serve myself a small portion and waiting to see if I wanted any more. It broke the habit of always having a full plate and finishing it.

  2. Just read your previous post on habits. Sounds really interesting and I can't wait to find out how you get on. I need tips on habit breaking or good habit forming.

  3. Thanks to both of you! It will be a challenging process but I'm intrigued to see how it plays out. Thanks for your comments!

  4. The habit and trigger and reward. Hmmmh. Sounds like a book Todd would enjoy. Have found different food choices are also an important factor too. But, you probably already know that.......

    1. Different food choices and smaller portion sizes are certainly important, but the thing I've realized from reading the book is that the reasons I make the problematic food choices that I want to change is that those actions are subject to habits that I know intellectually are not working for me, but which need to be addressed on a deeper level because they answer certain cravings. The goal of the series is to identify the places where I fall down and then to analyze what I can do to rewire my brain so that a different routine satisfies the craving triggered by the cue. More on that tomorrow!!