It is a common theme, where you will start off a diet in a strong place ready to reach your weight loss goals.
However, within a week or two you will find yourself slipping back into your old habits. Why is that?
Well, simply put, your brain has been hard-wired in a 3-step process of Trigger – Action – Reward, which can be difficult to get out of.
The following mind tricks though may be able to help you stick to your diet.
#1: Find your triggers
All of your habits, whether good or bad start off with a trigger, which is an action that occurs almost subconsciously. For example, grabbing a bag of crisps when you turn on the TV.
Simply removing some of these triggers could help remove the subsequent habit, but it may not be as easy as that.
#2: Use ‘If-Then Planning’
If you cannot remove the trigger then the next mind trick is to try and change the action that occurs when you encounter this trigger.
One method you can use is ‘If-Then Planning’ or ‘Implementation Intentions’, which uses your already existing triggers but tries to get you to change the action.
An example of how ‘If-Then Planning’ works is as follows:
- In the past when you felt tired at work (trigger) you would visit the break room to grab a biscuit (action). This would then allow you to socialise with your co-workers (reward).
Instead try the following:
- When visiting the break room, try to drink tea or something healthier instead. The trigger and reward will be the same, but the action has changed.
#3: Add to existing habits
Creating new habits can take some time, so it is sometimes easier to add healthy options to existing habits.
For instance, instead of deciding to go for a walk every night, try adding this to an existing habit. Perhaps walk to the shops or to your friends, instead of driving.
#4: Set small targets
When trying to lose weight it can be easy to get carried away by your end goal, and while you should have an end goal you should try to set yourself mini targets as well.
These small targets or goals should be easily achievable, so that doing so will encourage you to push for the next goal.
If the goal is too hard then you will likely become disheartened and in all likelihood end up quitting your efforts.
#5: Use abstract thinking
This final tip is not to focus too much on the details, for example the icing on a donut, but rather to think of them as just another breakfast food.
Doing so will make it easier to swap this unhealthy food for a healthier alternative.