Part 2 - How to Lose Weight Naturally (the method is really the key to all successful goals).

In this post, I am going to focus on just one thing: HABITS. If you think about it, the key to anything you want are the actions you take. So in order to achieve any goal, you have to build new patterns that become part of your normal routine. This is the basis of "The Power of Habit" (Duhigg 2014).  So think about those excuses you tell yourself on why you can't lose weight, workout, change your diet, whatever and apply these principles I'm going to share with you.

There isn't one magic formula to change a habit you are trying to modify. In fact, there are endless ways. But there is one basic foundation.

And here's why.

Just like everyone has different nutritional needs, we all have unique habits. They are  personal to us because we developed them.  Your habit of eating a 3:00 pm doughnut in the office breakroom is different than someone binging on a fifth of vodka at 10:00 pm.  So something that works for one person may not work for another.  The the fix works for all of us. (download your worksheet here)

Here's how.

According to Duhigg, MIT researchers have discovered a sort of neurological loop that is the core of every habit; Cue, Routine, Reward.  We do it without thinking.  Your brain literally is on autopilot. But by figuring out what each part of your loop is, you can change your habits to whatever you want.  Like changing mindless eating to drinking water. Or never finding time to work out to suddenly making it a part of your day.  Duhigg spells it out like this:

how to build habits

Step 1: Identify the routine (you want to change). For example. If you don't get up early to workout because you want to sleep longer your routine may look like this: alarm goes off, you make an excuse and hit snooze then go back to sleep. You need to deconstruct this and find out what's the cue and what's the reward?

Step 2: So let's try to figure out what the reward is and replace it with a new one. Is your reward sleeping in? Staying warm in bed? Not facing a trainer at the gym? Swap it out with a new one. But this is where you need to try out different ones to see what works.  Maybe a new workout clothes? A workout partner waiting at the gym that motivates you? Getting up before anyone else to have the bathroom to yourself? Pick something to reward your behavior besides going back to sleep. You also have to figure out why going back to sleep is your reward. Do you need more sleep? Too cold to get up? Afraid of the dark? Fix those also to help change the reward.


Step 3: Isolate the cue.  Duhigg notes that all habit cues fall into five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people and immediate preceding action. So track three days worth of routines to try and isolate which cue your habit falls into. In this example, it may look like this:

                                                     Monday                           Tuesday                       Saturday

location                                          home/bed                       home/bed                     hotel/bed
time                                                6am                                7am                              9 am
emotional state                               tired                               tired                              tired
other people                                   spouse                             alone                            spouse
immediate preceding action           go back to sleep              go back to sleep           go back to sleep

You can see the emotional state is the same: tired. So you know that if you're too tired, you won't get up and workout.

Step 4: Change the plan. Go to bed earlier to get an awesome night's sleep to fix the cue (tired). Maybe get your workout clothes laid out, pre-make a protein shake and have everything ready to go. The cue for your brain (I'm tired) is now being rewired (I'm rested and ready to go).  But this only works with a plan. Once the alarm goes off, you need to tell yourself to get up and go since being tired isn't the reason anymore. Once you do the routine and get the new reward, it cements this rewiring even more (like maybe having quality time with a friend at the gym, wearing new cute workout clothes or having a kick-ass cup of hot coffee on your way there).

What's your routine?

Pick that one habit you want to change or create. Write down your loop (including your cue, routine and reward) and reverse engineer it with a well thought out plan. Remember the "cue" step so you can isolate what the cue really is for your action and correct it.  You can download your worksheet here and get started now.

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