Simple Steps to Quitting Bad Habits for Weight Loss Success

Choose To Unlearn Bad Habits to Lose Weight for the Long Term

The funny thing about people is that we often equate the person with what the person does. If a person steals from time to time, we call that person a thief. If a person tells a fib from time to time, we call that person a liar. If the person cheats on her husband wants, we call her a slut or a whore. What’s wrong with this picture? The problem is, just because you hammer a few nails in your line doesn’t make you a carpenter. Just because you wrote a contract at least once in your life doesn’t make you a lawyer. In other words, human beings are more precious and more valuable than the stuff that they do. Unfortunately, the human mind works in terms of stigma. We tend to put people into neat little boxes that are unfair and really quite damaging to them. But, we don’t care unless it happens to us. This is especially true when it comes to habits.

The reality is that you are not a fat person because there’s something wrong with you; you just have the wrong habits. You are not an unhealthy person because there’s something morally-flawed. That’s because you’re morally flawed, you just happen to choose the wrong habits. See how these all work out? It’s all about choice and sadly, when we choose to stigmatize and hardwire people to certain behavioral patterns, we basically take away choice. Being fat, evil, sexually-promiscuous becomes their destiny. You see how unfair this is? It’s definitely unfair when it’s applied to you than to other people. If you can do yourself, you can start changing your lifestyle by uncuppling what you do from who you are. You are not a fat person, a drug addict, or a nicotine addict. You are who you are. You have your own value. You are worth loving for who you are. You have your own intrinsic value. This is the key to breaking bad behaviors and to learning positive new habits.

The Big Divide between Understanding What You Need To Do & Doing It

Another key hurdle for dealing with negative eating and lifestyle habits that prevents or makes weight loss nearly impossible is that the divide between a physical, emotional and intellectual reality. It’s easy to understand why we need to do something and to intellectually get what we should be doing. However, it’s very hard to translate that into actual action. Why? There are a lot of things getting in the way. It’s one thing for people to understand that intellectual concepts of something, but there are cultural, emotional, and mental issues that get in the way. Habits are hard to break because they have emotional components.

You can intellectually understand and appreciate the importance of eating less calories everyday and moving around more. But unless it becomes more emotionally real to you, chances are, you probably are not going to lift a finger to lose weight; that’s just the bottom line. You are hardly alone in this; this is how the human mind works. There seems to be a big wall between intellectual and emotional realization, and physical action. Your job, if you want to live a healthier lifestyle is to break down these walls. The good news is that it’s easier than you think.

You Need To Unlearn Bad Behaviors

This is an easy realization. When you show a smoker a cigarette pack that shows a lung half-eaten by cancer or a person who has a heart with cancer growing all over it, it’s easy for that person to get shocked and to start thinking about stopping smoking. You might think that, “Well, this is a great victory!” Not quite. You hit the person on an intellectual basis. However, to drive that point home, you need to show an emotional component.

You need to show that person a picture of his/her child growing up without a father/mother. You have to show the amount of tears being shed because that person died an untimely death. Do you see where this is all leading? It’s all about the emotional trigger. Unfortunately, understanding that we need to hit the gym more or eat less; these are all intellectual-leveled realizations. Anybody can get this; this doesn’t take much effort.

When you are trying to break your bad eating and lifestyle habits, you have to understand how this intellectual realization works and resolve to get passed. In other words, don’t think you’re making progress just because you intellectually realized that you need to lose weight. As I mentioned earlier, anybody can do this.

Get Physically Motivated To Unlearn Bad Habits Through Visualization

As I mentioned earlier, it’s actually easier than you think because of one concept called “visualization.” Whether you realize it or not, the truth about the human mind is that we are very visual creatures. A picture/image comes to our minds and we develop an emotional response. Some people are auditory, so they hear certain things and there’s an emotional cascade. Others are more tactile; they touch something and there’s an emotional response. Regardless of how your specific person process works out, there is always an emotional response. Understand this, so you can see the power of visualization. Visualization is extremely powerful corporate training and motivation. Corporations use visualization strategies to train their employees. Make no mistake about it; visualization works.

When it comes to weight loss, a visualization is actually pretty straightforward. Focus on what you lose: health threats, low self-esteem, and emotional pain. Then, focus on what you can gain. Imagine the emotions flowing through you. The key with visualization is: the more you practice it, the more powerful it gets, because you’re basically rewiring how your brain response to certain of visual or external stimuli. The more you do this, the more in control of the linkage between the external signal and the emotional response. Remember, your brain is the most powerful machine and organism in the world. You’re going to tap its power.

Be Clear As To Why You Need To Adopt New Habits

One of the main reasons why people are unable to break a habit is because they’re unclear as to why they need to stop smoking or jumping into bed with strangers, or whatever addiction it is. If you’re trying to break a habit, you have to be clear as to why you need to adopt and have it. Make it emotional and urgent. In other words, hit the heart level instead of just keeping it at the intellectual level. As mentioned above, anybody can have an intellectual realization. That’s easy. What’s hard making it real through the right emotional responses. It’s only real when it becomes emotional.

Tie The Learning And Unlearning Process To Emotional Triggers

I cannot emphasize this enough. When you are trying to learn new habits, tie it to positive emotions. When you’re trying to unlearn unhealthy habits, tie it to negative emotions. For example, when you give in to the temptation of eating more ice cream than you should be eating, give yourself permission to feel like shit and to feel embarrassed to yourself. Feel ashamed. Let it rip. Feel the burn and sting. Similarly, when you hit the gym and you put in a few hours working out, give yourself permission to feel great; to feel like you’re on top of the world. The key to establishing positive new habits is that is takes time. It doesn’t immediately take crew, you have to stick to it. But, the more you persist, the higher your likelihood of success.

Keep A Journal

Finally, you should be as aware of this process as possible. While the best way to do this is to keep a journal. You don’t have to write; you can dictate your personal journal. Regardless of what you do, you have to focus on the different elements of your old and new habits. Understand the progress that you are making. Understand the efforts that you are taking. Write as much about the emotions you’re feeling as you wait. Take pictures. Pictures, of course, are worth a thousand words. When you see pictures of yourself losing weight, you become more encouraged. You pay more attention to the positive emotional feedback that you are giving yourself. The great thing about keeping a journal is that it is a conscious act. The more conscious you are regarding your efforts of breaking your bad weight loss habits, the higher the likelihood that you will succeed in your efforts.

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  1. This is a very inspiring write-up. I am sharing this to a friend of mine who pressures herself unnecessary and feels the stigma associated with obesity or plus size women. I think she’s beautiful but she has this bad habit of comparing herself to others. I just wish that reading your article will change the way she sees her self, especially when surrounded with other people.

  2. Something that has helped me when stopping old habits is starting new ones. Not taking the old ones away, but adding in new ones each week to the point where the old ones just fade away. For some, this approach may be easier. I have trouble changing anything when I have to force myself or be forced.

  3. I like this idea. Adding in positive experiences to the point that they replace the negative. The time you use on the positive chips away at the time spent on the negative. Until eventually the negative just fades out.

  4. When one is fat, it’s kind of difficult to lose weight. It’s very hard and tiring to move, making one think of exercise as torture tool than a helpful tool. The first step mentioned in the article “choose to unlearn bad habits” is to me truly the winner to keeping some weight off. It is when one decides to do something that one is able to make changes in their lives. So when one chooses to unlearn bad habits, such as eating unhealthily, then I believe the person is on the way to success of losing the weight. When one chooses to do something, one readily does it.

  5. Like your other article says, it’s best to redirect that bad habit and replace that bad habit with something good, something positive. It’s always all easier said than done but you have to tell yourself that you can do it and try as hard as you can. Highlight in your mind what’s negative for you and go after what’s positive for you. Once you’ve captured the right emotions for the right purposes, you’ll be better off.

  6. Right on. If you want to lose weight or get fit, you have to stay consistent. This is done through continually sticking to a diet and workout.

  7. I recently used a combo approach of smaller steps and visualization to help me break a habit. I really wanted to replace the dessert I ate each evening and with a piece of fruit instead. The first step I took was to get a really nice bowl and set it on kitchen counter and then I purchased at least two different kinds of fruits I really like during the weekly shopping trip. I filled the bowl so it was easy to see and access and then set a goal to replace dessert twice that first week with fruit. I made a little reminder sign of my goal and put it next to the bowl. It really did work! Each week, I added another day to my goal. The combination of breaking down into smaller steps combined with the visual aid of the bowl and the goal sign was very powerful in persuading me to change my behavior.

  8. I definitely agree with the visualization method, and using it with statistics really helped. Every time I am under my calorie goal, I look at myself in the mirror, and I definitely feel better. I’m a little hungry, but it’s honestly worth it. We are habitual creatures, and these tips will definitely help break bad habits. Thanks!

  9. One way to think positively about changing bad habits is to reward yourself every time you choose not to do that habit. For example, for every day you don’t do that habit, you get a point. And once you reach ten points, you get to buy something or do something you have been wanting to. The key is to be hard on yourself though. Don’t get that reward until you have actually earned it.

  10. Behavior modification is key to long term successful weight loss. Without working on the reasons why we overeat, it is all too easy to slip back into our old habits and undo our good work.

  11. Discipline is the key! You just have to remind yourself “is this good for me?”. That’s what I try to do myself, really helps. Also the tips you mentioned have helped a few of my friends before, but it usually depends on the person. Small rewards for let’s say not drinking coke all week can help too.

  12. I like your point about associating the habits you want with positive feelings and vice versa. This is a very powerful way of actually teaching your brain not to enjoy the things that might seem nice but are actually hurting you. It’s an application of the age-old concept of classical conditioning, and over time it really will make you lean towards the healthy habits that you want to define you, rather than wallowing in the unhealthy ones that feel like a trap.

  13. I feel like a number of these tips are getting at the same basic point: mindfulness! We spend so much of our lives ignoring our bodies and its signals (hunger, thirst, stress, fatigue) that it seems impossible to change course and become your body’s ally for weight loss and health. Visualization, the journal, identifying habits and goals – all these are ways to connect back with your body’s needs in a real, visceral way.

    I find that if I carefully listen to what my body wants in terms of food, drink, and physical activity (rather than just going along with habit or the crowd) I end up making healthier choices. I drink water instead of soda or beer, I eat less meat and more vegetables, and I get up and move even when I’m feeling lazy. Tapping into this internal motivation is much more useful and natural than trying to force yourself to do something you don’t want!

    Great post, thanks for the reminder!

  14. I think one of the hardest things to do is unbreak bad behaviors that we have been doing for years. It really is easy to understand intellectually, but that emotional part is hard because it varies so much person to person. For example, I have no children so that particular approach won’t work. But what about my wife. Now, that really strikes a chord. I hope this helps others break the emotional barrier. Thanks a bunch.

  15. I cannot recommend keeping a journal enough! It’s one of the best ways to keep yourself accountable, especially if you’re going through a big change in habit and don’t have a physical person able to help you by doing it too.
    This was a great post, and makes it very clear that sometimes it’s the simplest things that will aide the biggest changes, thankyou!

  16. I like the idea of a picture journal. It’s a good idea to have that visual representation. Take each picture in the same pants and hold them out to show the difference. We’ve all seen those pictures. I also think that looking back at where you started would be an encouragement. Just remember that it takes time! Don’t get discouraged and quit, just keep plugging away. You’ll get there!