Let’s face it, Americans are getting heavier and heavier. The obesity rate for adults in the US is 42.4% of the population. The diet industry is estimated to be a $72 Billion and rising market.
If you have ever tried to lose weight without dieting, you know just how difficult it is to accomplish. The body literally works against your efforts, trying to keep your weight “stable”. If you are cutting calories to lose weight, the body, including fat itself, talks to the brain through hormone signaling, saying “you need to eat THAT” (perhaps thinking of cupcakes or wings), when eating that is supporting the exact opposite result losing weight.
Additionally, when most people are trying to drop pounds without dieting, it can be easy to try to “start” too many things all at once. Adding a new exercise routine, AND trying to also eat more fruits and veggies, AND taking new supplements, AND going to bed sooner, AND cutting back alcohol quickly turns to overwhelm. This typically results in “failure” to follow through with the new plan. When the human brain is overwhelmed, it defaults to the answer of “NO”.
The trick with not being overwhelmed is to start with something ridiculously easy. It is picking a new behavior that might seem so silly, it feels inconsequential. If your goal is to run a 5k and you haven’t run in 10 years, maybe the first behavior modification is to put on your running shoes and exercise clothes every morning for a week. Then the next new behavior would be to go outside for a 5-minute walk. Most people try to jump into a 30-minute run when they are starting from zero. Typically, this causes too much pain and the current routine of NOT running 30 minutes daily quickly causes the person to give it up. The brain reasons: too sore, too hard, too early. Starting with putting on running shoes and exercise clothes likely feel ridiculously easy. And that is the key. Make it so easy that it feels silly.
In changing a habit or routine, many experts say to ADD things into your routine before you start subtracting. For instance, if your goal is to break a soda habit, it might be best to start with drinking more WATER before cutting back on the soda itself. If you are trying to eat healthier foods, it is easier to add those healthy foods to meals with food you are in the habit of eating. Take pizza as an example. Cut up the pizza and throw it on a salad. Adding salad or extra veggies to increase the health factor of your meal BEFORE you stop eating pizza regularly helps to begin a shift in the taste buds changing, as well as providing much-needed nutrition from veggies. The brain often focuses on what it is told it “can’t” have. Instead, an increase of micronutrients starts to change the palate, fill up the digestive tract, and bring subtle changes to the body. If you start to sleep better, you wake up more energized. If your body is able to get more fiber from the food you have added to your meals, you might be able to poop better and start to feel a little less bloated. These small changes add up and over time become a big habit that may have failed if attempted to be the starting gate.