Although I’ve never read the entire book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I did pick it up at our library and skim through it one afternoon. The book made me think about how modeling our behavior on proven, successful models helps us in a lot of areas.
For example, rather than reinvent the wheel every time I need to teach one of my children a new math concept, I use tried and true methods that have worked for thousands of kids before.
When it comes to weight loss, there are tried and true habits that can work no matter what your dieting philosophy is, no matter your gender, no matter how much weight you need to lose, and no matter your age. Of course you need to find your own eating plan that works for you and the exercise regimen that fits in with your lifestyle, but there are certain habits that successful losers tend to have in common that you can learn from and apply to your own life.
I came up with a list of seven because I have seven kids and I like that number. 🙂 I also based the list on what the National Weight Control Registry found helped successful losers not only lose weight but also maintain their weight loss for years. I am a member of that registry and I can tell you that their research tracks very closely with what worked, and continues to work, for me.
- Do some form of exercise most days of the week.
A highly successful loser does not just focus on food, but also incorporates some form of deliberate exercise most days of the week. Personally, I exercised seven days a week while I was losing and still exercise most days of the week 20+ years later. It doesn’t have to be a killer workout every single day, but it should be challenging. Remember that fitness builds upon itself so if you are just starting out, do not expect to be able to do as much as someone who is more accustomed to working out.
2. Eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast is an important habit of highly successful losers. The vast majority of people who lost weight and have kept it off eat breakfast. I admit to not being a breakfast lover, but I do eat something healthy by 10:00 in the morning. That’s after my coffee of course.
3. Portion control reigns supreme.
Calories may be king, but portions are co-king or an equally ruling queen. Control your portions to lose weight more easily. If you combine portion control with either calorie counting or calorie awareness, you will be surprised how fast you get accustomed to recognizing what a healthy portion of your favorite foods actually looks like. I am still very aware of portions and occasionally measure foods to make sure I haven’t developed a “super-sized” eye for foods such as pasta, rice, or nuts.
4. Stick with basic, whole foods.
You may know people who have lost weight using prepackaged diet meals, but I wonder how many of those people you know were able to maintain their weight loss. When you stick with basic, whole foods, you make it easy to avoid manipulated foods that are full of unhealthy ingredients while at the same time teaching yourself how to make and enjoy real food that you can rely on for life.
5. Have a method to keep track of calories/nutrients.
I watched fat percentage, other people count calories, count macros, and still others count points. Whatever works for you – have a way to regularly monitor your intake to ensure you are eating enough calories and getting the proper nutrients. I used a simple paper journal when I wrote down my food intake but now there are really great apps such as My Fitness Pal or others that take the hard work out of monitoring what you eat.
6. Deal with emotional eating issues.
This is huge and something that must be addressed for success. Now, granted, the person who gained 10 pounds in college may not have a lot of emotional issues surrounding food, but if you have a substantial amount of weight to lose or have been overweight for a long time, there very well may be emotional issues that you need to deal with. Ask yourself what emotions drive you to eat and then develop strategies to cope with the emotions without relying on food. (Easier said than done – I understand.)
7. Have a support system in place.
A support system can be one person or it can be a whole bunch of people. It all depends on what works for you. My main support was my husband John and that worked for me. I’ve had people in my weight loss class who became each other’s support system and it was a joy to watch. Going it alone is often difficult and may make the whole process more difficult.
I know this has been a long post but there were seven habits I wanted to cover. I’d love it if you would add your own important habits to this list for my benefit and the benefit of other readers.
In your opinion or experience, what habits are most important when losing and maintaining weight? Diane