Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Power of Habit for Weight Loss (Part 2 of the on-going saga)

In my last post I shared with you the on-going diet saga of my life. Since my last post, I am down another six pounds as well as down several inches in my waist. My body fat percentage is down, too. :) Remember, I have gone over a year without seeing much progress in the weight loss department, so I am celebrating!

After attempting every diet on planet earth, I am sharing the things that are truly working for me at this juncture of my life. I would like to point out, that one size does NOT fit all! What is working for me, may not work for you. (This aligns with my deep beliefs in the Ayurvedic approach to holistic health...more on that another time.) I have become my own science experiment by journaling and examining my own data, which, in turn, has helped me change my mindset and create new, powerful habits. Let me explain more.

I am going to begin with how important habits are in our life. Habits are hard to break. Period. Bad habits and good habits. They are much more powerful than any willpower we think we can muster. This is why, for example, I can endure an extreme eating plan for 2 weeks, 21 and even 28 days. But after that time frame has passed, I find myself going right back into my previous ways of eating. This is because I am relying on willpower. It is exhausting, and not terribly delightful. But a good habit...that is not exhausting at all! For example, when I get up in the morning and brush my teeth, I don't even think about it. I am on auto-pilot. Brushing my teeth is a great habit and contributes to my overall health, and it feels easy! I needed to find a way to approach good health, nutrition and fitness in the same way as I approach brushing my teeth.

During this journey, I have changed a habit that I did not think was possible. And I mean that with all of my heart. For 43-ish years, there was no way on God's green earth that I was going to wake up early to work out. I am a night owl. I love sleeping in. I only get up early for work because I have to. But over a year ago, something happened that changed that. I found an exercise that I loved. And I mean I really love it! It had Amy Casey written all over it. Pound ~ the rock-out, work-out!

I had been working out with my trainer Denise Sarver (who is incredible, by the way!) for at least six years when this huge change happened. I always felt she was the reason I didn't just completely balloon up over the years, but I could just never seem to reach my goals. I was always maintaining or hanging on by a thread. Then last summer, she offered an introductory Pound class on a Saturday morning (reasonable morning know, 10 am). Then she tricked me! She only offered the full classes at 6 am during the week! Well I had never had so much fun working out in my life! I loved the music, I loved banging on things, I loved the rhythm. It was summer after all, so my schedule was a little more manageable. So I dragged my butt out of bed twice a week at 5:30 am to make this silly class. It was AWFUL. I had an argument with myself EVERY morning when it was time to go to Pound. But I PAID for the classes, so I had to go. I am not going to lie. A couple of mornings, I just couldn't do it. I lost my money. However, I felt so good when I went, and had such a good time that it eventually became easier. (Side note - Denise told me, "You are really good at this, you should go get certified!" And I did just that! Also another story for another blog post).

Fast forward to today. Getting up for that class made it easier for me to get up in the morning, in general. It became a HABIT. I now get up twice a week to work out with Denise for weight training. (Along with several other workouts during the week at more reasonable times. :) The weight training, which is extremely important for a 45 year old woman for several reasons, is just alright to me. It is not Pound. Are you following me? I created a new habit. I get up at 5:30 in the freaking morning, for something that is not necessarily my favorite, people! That is just slightly short of a miracle!

The thing about changing our habits is that it is hard to change more than one or two habits at a time. So if you try to change everything, all at once, in the name of "Lifestyle Change," you are bound to fail. For more on this topic and the science behind it, I highly recommend the book, "Foodist" by Darya Rose, and the book "Switch, How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath.

In order to change our habits, our mindset is especially important! In my next blog, I will share with you about Mindset and the other habits I have created slowly over the past year that are finally paying off!