Practice Is The Key To Losing Weight
To get good at anything, you must practice, practice, practice. It’s true in football, it’s true in piano and it’s also true in weight loss. With repeated practice, healthy behaviors become habits that lead to weight loss and overall fitness.
Forming New Habits
It takes time and practice to develop a new habit. How much time does it take for a new behavior to become automatic? It depends on the person and the situation, but researchers from University College London found that, for the participants in their study group, it took an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become habitual.
This is contrary to the common belief that it takes only 21 days to form a new habit. Although new habits do sometimes form that quickly, it usually takes longer, maybe much longer. Unfortunately, if you have the 21-day number stuck in your head, and that mark comes and goes without the new behavior having become automatic, you are likely to feel discouraged and defeated.
But don’t give up! The University College London study makes it clear that most habits take more than three weeks to solidify. The key is practice and perseverance. Stick with the new behavior, day in and day out, and it will eventually become a habit.
Sticking with Your Habits
It’s a lot harder to keep up with your new practices if you don’t design them to fit your personality and lifestyle. For long-term success, pursue habits that make sense for your life.
Not a morning person? Don’t set your alarm for a 5 a.m. workout. Schedule trips to the gym for after work, instead. Can’t cook? Don’t base your new eating plan around made-from-scratch gourmet meals. Pick up a book of simple healthy recipes, and plan to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which can be eaten with little to no prep work.
If you set goals that are unrealistic for your interests, schedule and abilities, you are simply setting yourself up for failure. Help yourself achieve success by focusing on practices that work for you, so you will feel confident and encouraged to keep up with them day in and day out.
Tackling Both Diet and Exercise
For the best success in transitioning to a healthy lifestyle, change both your eating habits and your physical activity habits at the same time. A study out of the Stanford University School of Medicine found that it’s best to work on developing better food and exercise habits at the same time, rather than adjusting one, then the other. Conventional weight loss wisdom often touts the benefits of healthy eating now, exercise later, but the Stanford study showed that this approach may actually hinder, not help, the overall process of forming healthy habits.
So every day, practice your new well-balanced eating behaviors. And every day, practice your new physical fitness behaviors. It will take time, but eventually these behaviors will become automatic habits, with a new, healthy you as the reward.