Well, eating the right things when you're used to eating the wrong things is NOT an easy task. For a week I've eaten nothing but fresh fruit and vegetables, and a meal shake or two a day. My weight as of today is 271 and I am very excited that this hard work is already paying off. In fact, the more weight I lose, the easier it gets to resist the bad eating habits that led me down this path.
There are times, however, when it's difficult to remember the benefits when memories of soft buttery noodles or loaded baked potatoes teasingly taunt on my taste buds. What can I do to stay strong in those weak moments? What will help me resist the temptation? And more importantly, how long does it take to break a bad habit? If I see the light at the end of the tunnel it's easier to trudge on, but if it seems never ending... it's definitely more difficult. So I'm on a quest to find out, just when will this get any easier? When will eating correctly be second nature? When will I have dropped my bad eating habits by the wayside and formed new, better, healthier eating habits?
I checked Psychology Today's website and read all about how hard it it to change a bad habit (and he used bad eating and poor exercise as examples)... ugh! NOT HELPING! (Although, it WAS humorous.) So I checked out Ask.com and found answers that ranged from 3 months to a year. I can do 3 months I think... however, I don't think I can keep this up for a year! I checked out Yahoo Answers and found one reply that said it can take one night and that it's just mind over matter (or mind over body)... well... my MIND says I want to lose weight and be healthy, and it REALLY does matter to me, but hot melting mushroom cheeseburgers are pretty powerful to ignore, especially when I'm crunching on raw vege sticks and broccoli that seems to be biting me back with every chew. (Sigh).
I did find a really helpful article on the Wiki How site, "How to Break a Habit". It didn't give a time table (much like Psychology Today's website), but the helpful advice is worth sharing. So, if you have a hard habit to break, feel free to listen to the video and read on. (I did not write the information below, I pasted it as it was too good to only share a few highlights. My notes/personal thoughts follow.)
- Believe in yourself. Telling yourself you can't do something is a bad cognitive habit that needs breaking!
- Take on one habit at a time, two at most. Any more than that, and you'll feel overwhelmed.
- Remember to reward and congratulate yourself when you do well.
- Substance abuse, eating disorders, self-mutilation and other self-destructive patterns aren't habits - they're addictions and illnesses. Seek professional help to combat them.
- Consult a mental health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist or a counselor) if you find that you can't control the habit yourself.
Sources and Citations
So, according to that ...
Step #1: Admit that you have a problem. I have done this. It asks, "Why is this habit bad?" Well, a poor diet and lack of exercise are bad because it's unhealthy. It will cost more in medical bills, shorten my life, and make the time I am alive painful and miserable. It will also negatively affect the people around me, the ones I love the most in this world. What's holding me back from getting rid of these bad habits? Well, money mostly.
It's EXPENSIVE to eat healthy. I've countered that with mystery shopping (especially grocery stores, when I can find them). I shop at Aldi instead of Meijer or Jewel or even Walmart. It's much cheaper. Also, my wonderful loving husband has also created a pantry in the basement so I don't see any food I shouldn't be eating such as noodles, rice, crackers, prepared dinners, snacks, desserts, and so forth. So looking at all that bad food (especially when hungry) was holding me back.
Another thing was having to look at it or smell it while cooking it. My husband and son have been troopers in this area by making the dinners for the last week. It's still hard to smell it from the other room (even a hot dog smelled delicious, and I don't even like hot dogs!), but it's better than standing right on top of it.
The last thing holding me back was... well, I LIKE the soft hot feel of all those starches and sometimes it's all I can think of while I'm crunching on the cold hard crunchy vegetables. So, I'll have to try and forcefully focus on why my habits are bad and what the benefits are. As the Little Engine That Could said, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."
Step #2: Change your environment. A key phrase for me when I read that article was, "Subtle changes to the environment make a habit less rote and force the mind to reassess what's happening." Well, moving the pantry downstairs has helped change the layout of the kitchen. That's taken a LOT of temptation out of the way. Out of sight, out of mind.
On National "Clean Our Your Refrigerator" Day I cleaned it and reorganized it. The fresh fruit and vegetables are front and center, the cheese and meat and yogurt are all in the back and are not easily accessible. I have even started cutting up the produce the moment I bring it home from the store so things like celery sticks are easy to grab when I get hungry or want a snack. I'm not sure if this has helped, but we'll see.
I have also not been eating in the dining room. I've been eating in the living room where I only have my fresh and healthy food in front of me. And there are no seconds, unlike when you eat at the table and the rest of the food in the pans or serving dishes is still sitting there begging to be eaten. When my healthy food is gone, it's gone. No more. I'm done! This has helped a lot too. By the time I make it out to the kitchen to put the rest of any food away, what I've eaten has already settled and I'm no longer hungry. Of course, my amazing husband has been doing most of the cooking and putting away of food and I haven't had to do much of this. Thank you sweetie!!!
Step #3: Create barriers to the habit. Well, I guess this was accomplished with the pantry downstairs, as well as placing the healthy food in the front of the fridge. I can't afford a "Diet Cheating" jar (like a "swear jar") so maybe some other penalty can be imposed... like additional minutes of exercise? Perhaps I can look up how many minutes of exercise will burn the calories of the food I am contemplating cheating with. Perhaps just making me look up the calories will be enough to deter me from eating it in the first place. LOL. I'm also sharing this blog with my Facebook friends, many of whom are very health conscious and support my healthy decisions every stop of the way. If you can think of anything else, let me know. I'm open to suggestions! And if you see me about to cheat, smack some sense into me! I'll know you love me. :-)
Step #4: Find a placeholder. To fill the void of eating/snacking all the time I've begun exercising. That's a nice placeholder! I'm also drinking a lot more water, and I've added a little bit of protein powder to my meal shake. This makes me feel so full and has made this much easier. In place of the soft yummy foods I'm missing right now, my amazing husband went out and bought some avocados for a salad and then the whole family ate salad for dinner. How nice and thoughtful was that!? It was the best meal I've had all week. This week I'll be cooking one of my vegetables at dinner so I'll be able to sink my teeth into hot soft things like steamed broccoli or cauliflower or carrots, and yes, they will seem very soft after eating them raw all last week. LOL.
Step #5: Be patient. The advice is to set realistic goals, but I don't know what is realistic and what isn't. It also says I can start out with a 30 day goal and if I'm not there, take another 30 days, and so on until I've reached my goal. As long as I'm making progress, I'll get there eventually. Okay, so I was 286 pounds and I want to be at 180 pounds. My goal is to lose 116 pounds. I've heard somewhere that 2 pounds a week is about right if I don't want to gain it all back right away.
So, 2 pounds a week, 8-10 pounds a month... that's almost a year! Yikes!!! On a positive note, if I keep my goals low like that... when I exceed them there will be cause for celebration (a happy dance, not chocolate... lol). And as my Martin has pointed out, since I've already lost 15 pounds, I'm about 10% of the way there and it's only been a week. Not bad, not bad. I realize much of that was probably water weight and that the rest of the weight won't come off as quickly, but it's enough to give me inspiration for now.
Take on one habit at a time, two at most. Any more than that, and you'll feel overwhelmed. - Hmmm... So, "Bad Eating Habits" and "Lack of Sufficient Exercise" are the two I am working on at the moment. My "Pack Rat" tendencies and occasional "Loose Budget" controls are also on the table, but one or two bad habits at a time, right? (Shrug)
Remember to reward and congratulate yourself when you do well. So, if I used to reward myself with chocolate (Godiva's Double Chocolate Raspberry Truffles, to be exact), what do I do now? Well, remind myself of the weight loss success at each step (every pound I lose may sound very small and insignificant by itself, but it's a whole brick of butter!), remind myself of the health benefits, and remind myself of my family and loved ones that I need to stay around and stay healthy for.
Autumn Overton, Gary Feutz, Haley Overton
Elizabeth and Mark Smith
Betty and Shirley Overton and myself
Brenda, Bill, and Bryce Ball
Eugene and Shirley Overton
Mike, Crystal, Will, Dave, Janice Schulte, Drew and Kelsey Brogdon, Giovanni Dumford, Gary Feutz, me and Cathy Haglund
Kathy Chepon, Gary Feutz, and Shirley Overton
Betty Overton, me, Shirley Ketcher, DJ and Jayden Feutz
Lou and Linda Rosa
Ray and LeAnna Lozano
DJ and Jayden Feutz, me, Gary Feutz
Gary Feutz and Nathan Burton
Jimmy Jett, Nathan Overton, Jayden Feutz, Caity Jett, and Ian Overton
Autumn, Haley, Zach, and Hughey Overton
Gary Feutz, Elise Phelps, and myself
Gary Feutz, Anita Pinkston
David, Janice, Will Schulte
Me, BJ and Sean Niktabe
DJ Feutz, Bahama Island Artist, Tory, Mary, Elijah, and Martin Sowder
Gary Feutz, Tory Sowder, Lou Rosa, Martin and Mary Sowder, Valinda Stokes, Elijah Sowder, and Autumn King
Me and my Precious Martin!
Gary and Will Schulte
And after all this, I wonder, what are my chances for success at this whole "Healthy Lifestyle" thing? How do I improve my chances? I'll discuss that next time! Eight Things Remarkably Successful People Do