7 Thoughts on Changing Habits to Lose Weight

As part of the study for the book, my wife and I trying to change our habit of working out during the week. To do this we decided to get up early and walk 1.5 miles every day. While the title mentions weight loss, these steps could be applied to any habit that you want to change.  I would love to have your feedback, thoughts and suggestions on how you improve your habits. If you are interested in following the conversation, sign up for my separate newsletter on character and habits.

Thoughts on Changing Habits

You have a habit is, shall we say, less than desirable. Perhaps it is eating too much, or just eating the wrong things. Maybe you do not get enough exercise. Or could it be that just watch way too much television. Whatever it is, here are some thoughts to help you.

1. First and foremost, you must be willing to make the change.

Give yourself permission to try and to fail, but not stop trying. Few people have the willpower to just stop cold-turkey. This must not be a simple, “I think I want to lose weight.”  Don’t even look at the weight aspect of it. Look at the habits that contribute to your weight.

2. Pick one habit to change.

Do not try to stop watching TV, exercise more often, eating healthy, eating less, drinking more water, taking supplements, trying different diets, all at the same time. You will fail. Like my grandma said, “Don’t try to boil the ocean boy.”  Choose one thing to work on and do it for 30 days. After that, consider adding a 2nd change, then 30 days after a third change.  All of the changes well-defined and easily measured.

3. Get an accountability partner.

You might be tempted to skip this step. Do NOT omit this! The first day, you will likely be enthusiastic. The second not so much and by the third, you may have already quit. Having an accountability partner that you know and trust will help you push through the “OMG what am I trying to do.” phase of the habit change. They will help push through the challenging parts and celebrate the successes.

4. With your partner, set a reasonable goal that can be tracked.

Not, I’m going to lose a bunch of weight. Your goal has to be specific and easily measurable. Like we are going to get up and walk 1 mile every day before work. Take the changes in small, easily managed steps. Keep it simple so that you can show yourself and your partner some early success.

5. Celebrate your successes and understand your failures.

Do not dwell, belabor, or fret over failures. Everyone has them. It all depends on how you react to them that matters. Thomas Edison has a great quote when responded to the question, “Mr. Edison, how does it feel to have failed 10,000 times when inventing the light bulb?” His response? “I did not fail, I successfully found 10,000 ways that did not work.” Learn from your failures and celebrate your success. since losing weight is the topic here, celebration is not cake and ice cream. Make it something appropriate. Maybe just one scoop of ice cream 🙂

6. Measure your progress against the goal you set.

Daily or weekly, whatever works for you. I track mine daily and it’s easier since my accountability partner, my lovely wife, is also participating in the experiment. We talk about how we are doing on our walk. Day 4 we were both really hoping for rain, but it was just overcast so we walked. Did you make your goal? Great! If not, take a really hard look at why you did something other than move toward your goal. Try to understand your action or lack of action, then say to each other, I will do better.

7. Repeat.

As I was told in the Navy, repetition is the key to learning, repetition is the key to learning, repetition is the key to learning, etc. Seriously though, either repeat the same habit change for 30 days, or add another small change goal if you and your accountability partner think you’re up for it. Keep doing both.  Maybe knock off that afternoon latte and change it to green tea?

Happy changing. What do you do to change your habits?

14 thoughts on “7 Thoughts on Changing Habits to Lose Weight

  1. zacharykmiller

    Great steps here! I think if people follow this, they will be able to make the change.. one thing I might add from past experience is that not only do you have to be “willing” to change, you have to absolutely “want it.” If you are not convinced the change needs to happen, you will find every excuse under the sun to make sure it doesn’t happen!

    Reply
    1. shawn

      Thanks Zachary. That’s true about the willing part, it does need more emphasis. And so very true about us finding ways to rationalize (or rational lies as I like to say) our way out of anything.

      Reply
  2. D.B. Moone

    Shawn,

    First and foremost, thank you for your service. I am also former U.S. Navy (27.8 years), but after retirement and lifestyle change, let’s just say I wouldn’t meet navy standards today. That said, my housemate and I started a life change a week ago, and I have to say that we got off to a great start, without considering all the day to day requisites of life.

    Yesterday afternoon, we were sitting in our library (it had rained all day and kept us from our planned physical activity, which I was secretly thankful for), and we began talking about finding the time to fit the must and should into our days. I write and my housemate is a designer, songtress and photographer. And we both love to sit in the library and read. So, now we throw in the long bicycle rides, walking bridges, etc., not to mention changing our diets – not drastically, but it’s a change nonetheless.

    I suggested that we create a weekly calendar, and start ‘one day at a time’ scheduling everything that must be done, e.g., I read for two hours in the library, and she read one hour and play her piano and sing for one hour; we add two hours (either morning, or later afternoon, contingent on weather) for our physical activity (one hour is transportation to and fro, and the second hour is for the physical portion). Of course, we must also schedule the time in the day for house and yard upkeep, writing and designing (the two most critical things that define us). It’s not easy to do, and there are days that we will have to move our plans around in order to accomplish everything. But the bottom line is that, as you tell us, it’s all about change and repetition. Good luck to you and your wife! Thank you for a great blog post, at the perfect time. 🙂

    Reply
    1. shawn

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your service. Good luck with your change. It is most definitely a challenge to work in changes to our habits if we do not make them a priority.

      Reply
  3. Alexandria

    I can relate to this on so many levels! I am dealing with the struggle of losing weight at the moment. I’ve found that the best way for me to achieve my goals is to tell my husband that he has to fend for himself, quit asking me if I’m hungry, or if I want to go get a beer. It’s not at all helpful, because I began to realize that most of the time I was eating just because he was hungry (he is ALWAYS hungry) and it was something for us to do together. I am slowly making progress and getting back the body I had before he stuffed me full of food and beer, haha. I have to hold myself accountable for letting it happen but I also need him to be an independent person at times.

    Reply
    1. shawn

      Yes it’s not easy to change our habits. It is very easy to slide back into old habits. They are like a comfortable pair of shoes. Let me know if any of the thoughts above help you. One thing you might try is getting an accountability partner other than your hubby. A good friend or coworker that you trust. Just my $0.02

      Reply
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