To achieve something we desire just needs us to make a change, but why so often can this feel like an impossible task?
By 2013, in the UK, 67% of men and 57% of women were either overweight or obese with figures increasing annually, these numbers are similar throughout the world with not one country showing any reduction in the last 30 years. Lance Medical Journal.
So why is it so hard to loose weight and further more to maintain weight loss?…… Habits.
On average 40% of the actions we perform each day are not due to conscious decision making, but instead are habits controlled by our subconscious.
Scientific research has shown that any habit consists of a cue, a routine and a reward.
- The cue is a prompt that tells the brain when and which habit to use.
- Then there is the routine – the habit itself – which can be either physical, mental or emotional.
- Finally, there is a reward, this is the end result which derives from the habit. This end result influences the subconscious mind to determine if the habit will be used again in the future.
It is believed that over time, this loop — cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward — becomes more automatic as the cue and reward become neurologically intertwined.
This entire process is extremely powerful and occurs entirely within our subconscious mind resulting in a majority of habits occurring and reoccurring without us even realising it.
It is important to understand that habits are not easily eliminated but with patience can be changed. To do so it is first necessary to understand the cues and rewards that drives a particular behaviour.
In general habits are consistent and therefore with practice and understanding the cue and reward for them can be determined.
It is recommended that you should only attempt to change one part of the loop at a time and by identifying either the cue (what triggers the behaviour) or the reward (what craving it satisfies), you will be able to decide the action needed to change to unwanted habit.
Making a change isn’t as easy as flicking a switch. To change a lifelong habit overnight is very unlikely and you are probably destined to failure before you even begin. Research has shown that an average time to break a daily habit is around sixty days, so it is vital that before you begin you appreciate any change takes both time and dedication.
Take the example of reducing the sugar you take in a cup of tea;
On average one teaspoon of sugar weighs 4 grams and contains approximately 20,000 granules!
If you currently take 1tsp of sugar per cup of tea and plan to reduce this to zero over a 60 day period would mean reducing the amount of sugar you add to each cup by approximately 0.07g per day or 333 granules!
Although 333 granules seems like quite a lot of sugar, it is unlikely you would be able to distinguish between two separate cups with this difference in sugar added.
Of course, in reality, it would be both difficult and unpractical to weigh each spoonful to accurately reduce the sugar content each day but it is clear that a very small reduction over time would be unnoticeable and your body would soon become used to a less sweeter and more healthier beverage!
If you are one of the many people who believe that they could never give up that 1 tsp of sugar in their tea, just speak to someone that has and they will tell you how much they enjoy their ‘cuppa’ now and how they could never go back to a sweeter tasting cup!
So remember, small steps, dedication and time are vital to achieve any change.
Be realistic in your goals, don’t expect change overnight and you are more likely to ‘make that change’.
What are you going to change?
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life….. Tip toe if you must, but take the step”