When I started my profession, a young woman hired me to help her lose weight.  It was around Easter time and she said that she loved cookies (who doesn’t? I love cookies, too), and she ate a lot of them.  So, she decided she would give up cookies for Lent to lose weight. After Lent however, she confirmed that she would continue to eat them.

I thought about her plan, and it honestly did not make sense to me. Yes she’d lose a couple of pounds when she stopped eating cookies but she would simply regain the weight as soon as she fell back into old habits.

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“What a waste of time…” I said to myself, but then I realised; I had also given up a bad habit a couple of months ago for only 3 months and was back to doing it again. How was my behaviour any different to my client’s?

It is funny how the mind works; Here I was trying to help her lose weight, when actually it was her that taught me a lesson. In trying to improve her bad habits, she got me thinking about my own.

I had read lots of information about habits before, but how they really worked didn’t occur to me until that day with my client. The reality is that many people are stuck in unhealthy lifestyles because they don’t have the burning desire to change their behaviour permanently. They think that changing their habits momentarily will somehow help them to achieve their long-term goals. Even though I was in a better situation where I was ready to change, I was slipping back into my old habits until that day when I decided enough was enough. 

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I explained to my client that to stop eating cookies completely would only make her crave them even more once Lent was over. For her to be successful at her weight loss, the best thing to do would be to figure out why she was eating so many in the first place (aside from the simple enjoyment of it). 

I told her that my bad habit was to surf the web and waste my time watching videos when I was bored. Wanting to change my ways, I learned what triggered my brain to start surfing online, changed my thinking pattern and replaced my bad behavior with something more productive and indeed a much more constructive use of my time such as doing research, reading and writing or even meditating. All things that I could use to help both myself and others. 

Now, even I will admit that it isn’t easy – replacing bad habits is a process that takes time. The first thing that you need to do is recognise when a behaviour is a bad. Then you need to come up with solutions; identify the change you want to make then put it into practice. Be persistent and decisive. Changing your bad habits for life will help you achieve your goals, whether it’s weight loss, being healthier or anything else; you can do it. 

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