The Most Natural Way to Lose Weight: Tapping the Psychological Secret of Rituals

Make no mistake about it, trying to break a habit is quite a tall order. Not everyone can do it. If habits are so easily broken, then most people will not smoke. If habits are easily dealt with, then most people will not cheat on their wives, watch pornography, steel, lie and do all sorts of anti-social behavior. But we live in the world we live in because habits really are very hard to break.

The good news is that as difficult as habits may seem, they are not impossible. There are a lot you can do to counteract them and adopt healthier habits. This is crucial if you are trying to lose weight. Weight lose is never easy. In fact, sustainable weight lose involves a lot of changes. We’re not just talking about changes in the physical level, we’re also talking about changes in the mental, emotional and spiritual level. To be honest, if you want to live a healthier lifestyle, if you want to lose that weight, and you want to keep it off, you have to get ready. You have to be prepared to go all the way. One key set of tools that you can use to achieve a healthier lifestyle is the psychological secret of rituals. Everybody has a ritual. Everybody does certain things a certain way. Everybody has their own distinctive style. There is a way to use certain rituals to help you lose weight.

As you probably already know, losing weight is fairly straight forward. You must eat less calories and burn more calories. You can actually do either of these things. Preferably, you should do both. But regardless, you should do at least one of them and produce a net negative calorie intake. When you achieve net negative calorie intake, your body will try to compensate for the lost calories by burning your stored calories. In other words, it would start burning fat. This is the state you’d like to get in. Unfortunately, your habits get in the way. A certain emotional trigger happens, or you perceive something and then you read certain emotions into it, and all of a sudden you find yourself chewing down on some greasy burgers or stuffing your face with some calorie dense chocolate cake. The good news is that rituals can help you offset this. Keep reading below to figure out how.

Rituals Are Never Emotionally Neutral

As mentioned above, rituals really boil down to how people do certain things and their timing every single day. Well, when you do your rituals like sitting down to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, brushing your teeth, picking your clothes, they’re never emotionally neutral. There is some sort of emotional payoff. Of course, that emotional payoff set a much more subdued level than habits. But make no mistake about it, there are emotional signals being sent and being received.

We Have an Unlimited Capacity to Read Emotions into Things

The psychological secret of turning rituals into your secret weapon against your bad habits is to read the right emotions into them. You can choose to feel good after you engage in a certain ritual. If you keep that in up, then the associate becomes automatic. In fact, the more you do this, the higher the likelihood that you will successfully reprogram yourself into looking at a certain ritual a certain way.

We Are Always Judging

Our body is really just a data collection device. We see, we smell, we taste, we touch, we hear, but at the bottom of it all, these are just data points, in other words, they are neither good nor bad. They are just data. They are just information. When these facts reach our brain, on the other hand, that’s when things get real. Why? We judge this data. We incorporate it into our internal narrative or internal story, and we make sense of them by plugging them into this central narrative we already have. This central narrative, this mental picture is not emotionally neutral. We are always judging the data point as to whether they fit or they don’t. This is important to keep in mind because if you are going to try to transform your rituals into habits that would help you lose weight, you need to be aware of this process. If you want to use your rituals to offset your negative habits, you have to be aware of this judging process.

Be Aware Of How Rituals Are Based On Judgment

Since rituals are not emotionally neutral and emotions are a form of judgment, then it logically follows that rituals are based on judgment. This is not a bad thing. Just like with anything else in life, you can judge the wrong way, or you can judge the right way. It really all boils down to you. What is wrong or right? Well, one thing is certain. What is right benefits you. So in the case of weight lose, how you judge a certain ritual, and how you perceive a certain ritual, emotionally speaking, must benefit you or else, you need to tweak that ritual so it can lead to the right set of physical benefits.

Pick the Right Rituals That Lead To a Healthier Lifestyle

The great thing about rituals is that they’re not as automatic or as emotionally programmed as habits. As a result, we have a lot more power in picking and choosing them. It’s very important then to pick the right rituals that lead to a healthier lifestyle. Look at your set of rituals, which ones burn more calories? Which one allow you to resist eating too much? Which ones allow you to lose weight and keep it off? This should be your selection criteria for your rituals. While we may not be able to choose our habits once they have taken life of their own, we do have a lot more power over rituals that we engage in every single day. The key to successfully pulling this off is to pick the kind of rituals that have the emotional payoffs that you need to help you get the kind of weight lose results that you are looking for.

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26 Replies to “The Most Natural Way to Lose Weight: Tapping the Psychological Secret of Rituals”

  1. I agree that habits are really hard to break. I’ve tried and failed at dieting more times than I’d like to admit and thanks to your article, I’m ready to try again. I never thought about my daily rituals and the emotions tied to them. I plan to change my habits to have a more positive outcome.

  2. Its definitely hard to break a habit! What I usually do is I take away little by little junk food I can think of or I try finding a healthier alternative. It is true that it takes 21 days for you to get used to something because I did it and trust me you wont crave all the junk anymore

  3. In order to break a habit you must replace the habit with a better one. This also means changing what you are doing when you do this habit that triggers your wanting to do it. Like smoking in the morning with a cup of coffee. Changing the morning routine so that when you want to have a cigarette not drinking a cup of coffee with it. But Instead go for a walk and have a coffee with your walk. Instead of watching t.v. and eating in the living room only eat at the kitchen table. After every meal brush your teeth so that you will have a nice clean feeling and you will not want to spoil it with food. Changing what you do that triggers the habit so that it will not trigger that habit anymore but something you find more appealing to you.

    1. That’s a really great idea, replacing a habit with a better one! Definitely an interesting concept, I could see myself putting it to use. I like the idea of brushing your teeth after every meal, it could help with dieting so much. Thanks for the cool tips!

  4. Habits have worked in the positive and the negative for me. Whenever I am trying to incorporate a new habit, I have to engage in a lot of focused effort until the new habit becomes automatic. I usually set alarms and timers to remind me to engage in a new habit like, for example, drinking more water. If I wanted to increase my water intake, I’d set an alarm every hour to remind me to do this.

  5. Calorie restriction is always though and it is a constant struggle. And you won’t have to succeed each and every time/day. You just need to make sure that over a certain period of time (week/month) you’re in a caloric deficit. Therefor it doesn’t mean that if one day I eat more it’s all lost. It is actually good for you, your body and your weight loss progress to have a “cheat day” once or twice a week.

  6. Another great article that makes me reflect on my own life. For the past month I’ve been trying to introduce a ritual of going for a walk every morning at around 9-10:00 a.m. I’ve been mostly successful, except for a few mornings where I couldn’t resist being lazy or just wasn’t feeling good.

    It’s definitely not easy to introduce new rituals, but like you said, I have to try and judge it the right way. I must remember that walking everyday allows me to be physically active, and if I keep at it, my body will benefit.

    Hopefully, my ritual of walking will replace my usual habit of being lazy. We’ll see, I guess.

  7. What a fabulous article. You are so right, rituals are very important especially when you want to lose weight. I found that once you establish a ritual and it becomes habit, the rest is all downhill.

    1. One ritual I adopted that seems to help with my weight loss is making sure I eat breakfast every day when I get to work, the actual ritual part starts before I even leave the house. I measure and pack the majority of the calories I will eat for the day. Then I eat when I first start work, a bowl of cereal usually and some fruit, then again at lunch, a snack midday usually my 1/2 cup of nuts, and before I leave the protein shake before workout. As long as I eat right for dinner it gets very easy to control caloric intake on workdays. That’s a big chunk of the battle. Weekends I need to really focus on some sort of ritual.

  8. This rings true for me. Once exercise becomes routine, it does get easier. Fat doesn’t magically disappear on its own. You need discipline to really sweat it out each day. As time goes by, you get used to it, and the results begin to show.

  9. Breaking my mid-afternoon snacking habit was extremely difficult. I started by replacing my snacks with healthy snacks which was o.k. for awhile, but not very satisfying. Then one day while eating my carrot in misery I looked over at the dog just lying on the couch and said “you want to go for a walk?” She went nuts since we never take afternoon walks after work. Now, even if I wanted to snack, I don’t have time for it, she whines if we take a day off.

  10. I think it is so important to pick rituals that lead to a healthier lifestyle! This could even mean picking an exercise routine that you love versus one that you hate. I personally hate running and can never keep up a running ritual for more than a couple of weeks. However, I really enjoy attending different classes such as cycling or yoga and it is easy for me to keep up my routine week after week.

    1. As I’ve gotten older, I have come to think that sometimes it’s just easier to lay new pipes than try to fix or unplug the old ones. And habits are also like that. I’ve found it easier to think not so much of ‘breaking’ an old habit but rather try focusing on ‘building’ a new habit. So rather than breaking the habit of meeting up after work for happy hour, I’ve focused on how much fun I have at yoga class. So far this approach seems to be working and I don’t miss my old ‘habits’.

  11. THIS IS SO TRUE. I have so many terrible habits, and they do have an emotional payoff. I’m stressed? I binge eat. There’s no food? I buy a pack of cloves. Writer’s block, or band practice got cancelled? I go to sleep for like, thirteen hours. None of these things are healthy!

    What I *should* be doing is, instead of oversleeping, exercising, and instead of smoking (like the dummy I am), I should walk up to the grocery store and buy an apple. Perhaps that’ll be what I do for my New Year: replace my bad habits with less terrible ones!

  12. You’re absolutely right when you say it’s all about habits and rituals. I was once very overweight, and managed to lose a lot simply from changing the way I ate and thought about the food that I was eating.

    I found that I was eating a lot in the evening when I was bored, so one of the things that I had to do was to find other things to do. I will now do things like read a book, or do some puzzles if I don’t have anything to do with my friends, and as a result it means that I no longer think as much about what I’m eating, and when I’m doing it.

    Breaking your habits can make a huge difference, and it is certainly something that you should try doing.

  13. I’ve heard it takes 20 days of doing a thing for it to become habit. To get rid of a bad habit you have to replace it with a good one. 20 days may not seem like a lot of time but when you’re working on “change” 20 days can seem/feel like a lifetime.

    We have to start somewhere if we want to reach a healthier way of life.

  14. Bad habits are indeed hard to break. Self control is essential but some things are just so tempting specially when they taste good. I remember years ago I was so fond of eating sweets, noodles and junk foods.. yes all unhealthy diet so when I realize I have to give it up to live a healthier lifestyle.. I struggled. What I did was I stopped buying junk foods though I still do once in a while but not like before.

  15. This is the truth with everything, for me at least. It’s been like 2 months since school started and I’ve JUST NOW adjusted my sleep schedule.

    If I can do something every day for 2 weeks it’ll stick, but if I get lazy I get laaaaazzzzzyyyyy.

  16. I like eating healthy food. My downfall is I love eating too much of it. Working at a job where I sit down all day isn’t good for burning off calories. I exercise more during the non winter months. Time to get back to good habits now that the weather is nicer again to burn off the 10 lbs I put on. 🙂

  17. Yep, bad habits are a pain to break, but I’ve done it before. I like how you use the analogy of ‘rituals’ for habits, because it’s something you do daily and without much thought. When it comes to changing habits, you first need to realize that there IS one before taking the first steps to changing it. That’s the first place to start.

  18. I have created rituals for myself in the past but I have never realized the importance of infusing positive emotions into the rituals that I was trying to create to make it stick until I have read this post.

  19. I like that this basically tells you to change your mind and you can change your ways. Breaking a habit is never easy, but instead of always looking at food as a comfort or a workout as a chore, change the way you look at them and they become healthy satisfaction. I used to hate having to walk my dog, even though he loves to get a walk and I love seeing him happy, and started thinking about how peaceful it is in the morning, and how great it makes me feel for the rest of the day. Now my body looks for that walk in the morning, and it pumps up my metabolism! And my dog really appreciates it!

  20. I think that rituals are an interesting way of losing weight; I also believe that the best thing for you body is to go to the gym. Rituals, I would say, definitely improves your self-esteem, and it may even effect the way that you perceive yourself. If one is doing rituals and starts to accept who they are more, rather than noticing that something needs to be done in order to see change, then that person will not see any physical improvement. I think that weight loss can be both psychological, as well and physical.

  21. Reading this made me feel guilty that I’ve been in bed the whole morning when I should’ve been working out. I agree that habits are hard to break and rituals are even harder to stick to. I guess it really all boils down to throwing away your excuses and just getting yourself to do it. Little by little is a good way to start – instead of plunging headfirst into a whole routine, try adding one small ritual first, and once you’ve gotten the hang of it, add another one. It’s better to slowly ease yourself into it than to bombard yourself with confusion. BRB gonna go and ease myself into doing posture exercises in the morning.

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