Do you know how many “weight-loss habits” there are? When you ask Google (you know, THE authority on ANY topic) you will find 34 million or so articles to tell you what to do, what not to do, common advice that is bad, etc. Ask 100 people what the one habit is that makes someone successful at long term, sustained weight loss, and you will get nearly 100 answers. So how can you really know what you NEED to do to lose weight?
To be fair, a habit is sort of nebulously defined. I think we can all agree that a habit is anything you do regularly, but according to the definition used in psychology, a habit also needs to be done automatically — as in, without really thinking about it. Which is why identifying habits by yourself is so hard. How can you think about the stuff that you don’t have to think about?
You see, all habits need a trigger — a little reminder that says, “Hey, you should do this action now.” They also need a reward — a little reminder that what you just did was a good thing. But these are really hard to identify by yourself because they happen below our level of consciousness. It’s really hard to remember new triggers, and it’s hard to remember to reward yourself. Habits are hard. Isn’t crazy that bad habits seem to sneak up on you, while the healthy habits are so hard to keep? This one habit makes all the other healthy habits easy. So without further ado, The Number 1 Habit You Need to Lose Weight is:
FINDING PEOPLE TO SHARE YOUR JOURNEY
Permanent lifestyle changes happen in relationships. Whether they take place with peers, a coach, family, friends, coworkers, the other anonymous people at the meetings, or the participants in one of my healthy living challenges, new habits happen when people get together and help each other out.
Finding your own triggers is hard. Seeing other people’s is easy. Remembering to tell yourself, “Great job!” is hard. Remembering to tell other people is easy. Figuring out how to work new foods, new activities, and new steps into your own life is hard. Watching and learning from a whole bunch of other people like you who are trying to get to the same place you are is just so much easier!
This all-important, Number 1 habit can also be called, “Creating a community of consistency.” And it can be as big a commitment as hiring a coach, or as simple as telling a friend what you’re doing to lose weight or inviting them to join you in a Team Quadzilla Healthy Living Challenge. Whatever you can do to share the load of learning, planning, remembering and rewarding will be one less thing you have to worry about.
Life is meant to be lived in community with others. In today’s virtual world people can easily connect with one another even though there are many miles between them. People are looking for others with the same struggles so they can relate, find encouragement and help, and to be a help to others. That’s a key reason why I started Team Quadzilla. We are all on a journey to do what is right and to be our best. If you are struggling to make progress in your journey, whether physically, mentally/ emotionally, or spiritually let this be your encouragement to find a community to plug into.
Special thanks to Coach Stevo for doing the heavy lifting on this article. Coach Stevo is the nutrition and behavior change consultant at San Francisco CrossFit. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago and an MA in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. He teaches habit-based coaching to wellness professionals all over the world and he contributed to Intervention by Dan John in 2012.