Breaking Bad Habits For Healthy Living & Positive Weight Loss
We have all seen or experienced the fad diets, ‘miracle’ zero carb foods, fat detoxes and the over subscribed ‘weight loss in 4 weeks’ promos that are plastered all over the popular press from the earth to the moon and back again in big, bold and sparkly colours. As of 2010, buying into the temptation and getting lost in the headlights of the aptly named, perfect body motorcade has created an industry worth over $61 billion in the US alone (US Weight Loss & Diet Control, 2010). Job creation and income generation is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. What I must draw attention to on the other hand is, what is the long term success that this industry provides to us, it’s consumers. How many crash courses end up causing complete and devastating write-off’s to our bank accounts and most importantly, our health?
Chris Powell the trainer of ABC’s hit show Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition conducted an interview with the popular ladies magazine, Women’s Health and explained his concepts on living healthy lifestyles.
“Anyone can withstand a brutal month of excessive exercise and calorie restriction, but that’s just not sustainable.”
What Chris focuses on are realistic ways to fit in fitness on a regular basis, favoring do-anywhere body-weight moves and fast-paced cardio intervals. This kind of simplicity has a powerful side effect: Checking off multiple workouts a week instills confidence and makes exercise part of your lifestyle, which is the secret to lasting weight loss. “After a week of meeting your goals, you’ll feel incredible. After two weeks, you’ll consider yourself unstoppable. By the time you hit six months or a year, there will be nothing you can’t do,” says Powell.
This is great advice for those of us out there accelerating through life on a full tank of motivation on a daily basis but what happens when our motivation level dips? What happens if we never had the motivation to start off this new lifestyle in the first place?
Joanna Buscemi, a psychology researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Memphis, bases her research on a pertinent issue surrounding weight loss motivation, Finding Your ‘Why’ To Get Motivated. When performing interviews with weight-loss research subjects, Buscemi is not only interested in what people want to change, but also in what they don’t want to change.
“If they’re fine with how many vegetables they’re eating, then I’m not going to harp on them about that.”
(I love that point because I believe that too many people fail to remember the value of some of the great assets they have and focus too much on what they feel still needs to be worked on).
Buscemi says, she focuses on things that her subjects want to change and helps them find motivators. And these motivators can stem from any number of influences, not only from the positive things we see.
“People can also be motivated by wanting to avoid pain,” said one research subject. “I quit smoking because I had a beloved aunt who couldn’t quit and died from lung cancer.”
The subject kicked her habit to avoid the pain of cancer and to prolong her life. The motivators you find should be specific to you, she says, and make you want something positive for yourself. Instead of “I don’t want to die,” choose a statement like “If I quit smoking, I’ll have a good, long life.”
Getting what you actually want out of a motivator can be more tricky than it seems and needs to be well thought out. When we’re trying to halt a bad habit, we usually rely heavily on self-regulation: I’ll stop eating cake by turning down cake.
That strategy can work — but usually only for a while.
Self-regulation functions like a muscle, says Marie-Josee Shaar, founder of Smarts and Stamina in Pennsylvania. Eventually, you’ll find the muscle just can’t perform any more self-regulation reps. After turning down cake 40 times, there’s just no strength left to turn down temptation 41.
But here’s the issue: You don’t really want cake. You want specific biochemicals, like the pleasure-making dopamine, the cake tells your body to release, Shaar says. And you can get those chemicals by other means — like pushups.
“If you exercise more, you lower the cortisol levels in your body. Cortisol pushes you toward high-sugar, high-fat foods,” she said. “Instead of succumbing to temptation, try exercise.”
If you’re not in the mood for a sweat session, your other option is something a bit more luxurious: sleep. People who are sleep deprived are usually high on cortisol, Shaar says, and have an imbalance of leptin, a hormone that regulates your hunger. Sleep can solve both of these problems, as well as curing the irritability you’re probably feeling.
Let’s make this the last time we take our cars out and end up in a total fender-bender. The joy, happiness and satisfaction from living your new healthy lifestyle is the soundest and most appreciative investment to yourself, your friends, your family, your children and your loved ones that you could ever make… Spark on :-)