Are your daily habits helping you to achieve your weight loss goals? Your daily habits have been found to be a key ingredient in predicting success at weight loss and improved health. In this post I’m going to share with you 10 simple daily habits to lose weight. People who have lost weight and kept it off over many years utilize these habits. These habits are the same whether you are looking to lose weight, improve insulin sensitivity or just enhance your overall health. Habits are what we do repeatedly and what we do repeatedly becomes who we are.
It’s worth examining your habits to see if they are sabotaging your desire to improve your health. You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym every day or invest in an expensive Vitamix blender to make kale smoothies (unless you want to!). It’s often the simplest daily habits that can add up to big changes in your lifestyle.
10 Simple Daily Habits To Lose Weight
Habit #1 Tune In To Your Body
Those who are successful at implementing a new dietary lifestyle are able to tune in to their body and what it is telling them. When I started eating a ketogenic diet, it took me a while to realize that I was often eating out of habit. My daily habit was continual eating and snacking. I felt that I needed to eat frequently to keep my energy levels up (granola bars in your handbag, anyone?). As my body gradually switched over to have the ability to burn fat for fuel and go into nutritional ketosis, I stopped snacking. This is when I discovered that I wasn’t hungry at all but just following my usual habit of snacking.
It was at this moment that power of eating low-carb really hit me. It frees you from continual hunger and allows you to go many more hours without eating than you could eating a normal high-carb diet. To learn more about going for long periods without needing to eat see our post on Intermittent Fasting.
So listen to your body. When do you eat out of habit? Is it while you are preparing dinner (like me) or perhaps you like to eat the kids leftovers? Do you get the 3pm munchies at work? Notice your own eating habits and which of them are habits that you can change. Let me know in the comments below.
Habit #2 Create A Habit of Positive Conditioning
The right mental habits can play a huge part in weight loss (as with everything in life). It is not just about what you are eating. Successful dieters associate positive feelings with eating healthy foods. They don’t think “Oh no, not this boring burger with no bun again!”, they think “I’m so happy that I’m eating healthy food, losing weight and have so much energy!”. If you make a habit of this type of thinking at every meal, you feel in control and this inspires you to continue to eat well. It is a way of conditioning your body to associate positive feelings with healthy eating. Another way to condition yourself is to share with others every time you eat well. This could be texting a photo of your healthy meal to a friend or posting on social media and receiving positive feedback.
Habit #3 Limit Sugar
Of the 10 simple daily habits to lose weight, the most important habit is not eating lots of sugar. Sugar is like an addiction. I’m sure you’ve heard people who say that once they cut back on sugar, they find many sweet foods too sickly-sweet to enjoy. Once you start to cut back on sugar you will be astonished at how your taste buds change. You no longer enjoy foods like candy and cola as much as you did in the past. You then eat them less and eventually not at all. It doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t want to enjoy a piece of cake – you might find that you enjoy the first few bites but then feel that you’ve had enough. In the past you would have happily had a piece and gone back for seconds.
Cutting back on sugar is a game changer in creating a healthier, slimmer body. Make it a daily habit to limit sugar in your diet. Another way to think about this habit is: successful dieters do not eat cakes, candy, cookies, ice-cream or drink soda, fruit juice or coffee and tea with sugar added!
Habit #4 Reward Yourself Or Punish Yourself
This is the old carrot and stick approach and you want to be using one or both of these habits.
Reward: Give yourself a small piece of dark chocolate (85% cocoa) after every healthy meal.
Yes, it tastes terrible when you first try it but keep persisting and see Habit #3 above about re-training your taste-buds.
Punishment: Some people respond better to consequences than reward. Set up a bet with a friend or family member that will cost you $ if you fail to lose the weight you agree to.
The website www.stickk.com/ is an awesome tool for providing an incentive to stick with your goals. It uses the psychological power of loss aversion and accountability to drive behavior change. Sign up, set up stakes and then decide if you want to include family and friends in your goal. They can cheer you on and keep updated with your progress (or lack thereof!). Your money can be sent to a friend, charity, or even an “anti-charity” – an organization you DETEST, if you fail to achieve your goal! Based on Stickk’s goal completion percentages, the success rate with stakes (giving money to a friend or anti-charity) is an amazing 72.8% (compared to 33.5% without stakes).
Habit #5 Imagine Yourself As You Want to Be
Successful dieters have a picture of themselves in their mind where they are glowing with health. They imagine exactly how they are going to feel in their new body. In their mind they will see what they will be wearing and what they will be doing. They feel as though they have already succeeded and they are just waiting for their body to catch up. If you have a strong emotional driver for why you want to change, then you probably already have a picture of your new self firmly in your mind.
This is typically what happens when someone sees an unflattering photo of themselves overweight. Suddenly they feel an overwhelming desire to do something about it. The intense emotion can become associated with their desire to change and a new healthier version of themselves. The likelihood of success is much lower, if you don’t have a strong emotion attached to your image of your new self.
To develop a strong emotional connection to your goal, set aside 5-10 minutes each day (ideally morning) to do a visualization. Sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed and do the following:
Form a picture in your mind of how you will look, what you would be wearing, what kind of things you will do when you reach your goal weight or health outcomes. Even imagine yourself eating healthy, whole food and doing activities that you plan on doing. Imagine all the benefits that you will gain from your success. Now start to feel a strong sense of happiness and gratitude towards your new self and life. Spend 5 minutes imagining your new self and allow the images and feelings to form a blueprint in your mind.
Habit #6 Share Your Story
To successfully change, you need to be supported by family, friends or your community. Having someone to cheer for your successes and pick you up when you are struggling is critical to making it work. It could be your partner, your friend, Instagram or a Facebook group like Low Carb and Losing it Original Group. Make it a habit to share your experience with others. While you don’t want to be someone who talks non-stop about the latest diet they are on….do share your great results or even difficulties with someone close or a social media group which can work equally well.
Habit #7 Eat Real Food
People who are slim and healthy do not make a habit of eating junk-food or processed food. It’s fine to eat the occasional treat, but the bulk of your daily diet should be quality meat or protein, vegetables and healthy fats. I recommend a Low-Carb or Ketogenic Diet because these diets have been shown in studies to be a superior method of weight loss. These studies have shown that subjects lose up to 2 times more weight than those on a low-calorie diet. In addition to helping many people achieve weight loss success, there are a multitude of other health benefits to enjoy such as dramatically improved mental performance and improved cardiovascular health.
Habit #8 Track Your Progress And Food Intake
An important habit to achieve success in many fields is to track your progress. I am assuming you have a goal that you are working toward – weight loss in pounds or kilos, body fat% or certain blood sugar levels etc. An important habit to develop is that of tracking your progress. This could mean weighing yourself weekly and taking time to review your progress against your goal. Having your goal and progress written down on chart that you can stick up on the fridge or in a handy app like MyFitnessPal is ideal. Measure your progress weekly at a minimum.
Your motivation to continue will be higher when you feel that you are making progress, .
The second habit that many successful dieters swear by is tracking their daily food intake. This can be a large undertaking, however, the good news is that apps like MyFitnessPal now make it really easy. You can add your regular meals with one swipe and can upload recipes and easily search for foods. It can be worth doing this for the first 4 weeks while you are establishing new eating habits.
Habit #9 Plan Your Meals
Here’s a familiar scenario. You arrive home from work or the gym and find yourself reaching for a bagel because you are too tired or hungry to prepare something healthy. I’ve been caught by this many times. So plan ahead and have all the ingredients at home. One of the top daily habits of those who stick to their new diet plan is meal planing. Meal planning can be done a week at a time or 3-4 days out. It’s harder to do it day by day as you will find that you don’t have all the ingredients that you need on hand.
Doing some food preparation in advance can be a lifesaver too. Prepare some vegetables by cutting them and storing in zip lock bags, Tupperware or Pyrex (my favorite) in the fridge ready to use. Blitz some cauliflower in your food processor and have a stash of it ready in the fridge to make cauliflower rice.
Meat can also be cut in advance to the size you will be using. Store them in containers in the fridge or even frozen (as long as it hasn’t been frozen before). Meal preparation can be quick and easy when you have ingredients prepared in advance. Some simple preparation will make a huge difference to your ability to make any new diet work. This is especially important when you are getting started.
Either during the day or at the end of the day mark off the daily habits that you have completed. I use a great free app called Habit List. The app allows you to set daily habits (or less frequent habits) and keeps track of your progress. It can send you reminders and only shows you what you need to accomplish that day. There are some handy charts too that provide motivation especially when you are on a streak and have been nailing your daily habits.
If you love checking things off your list like me, you will love this app.
Which of these habits do you do each day?