You worked hard, lost the extra weight, and you never felt better. So why did you go back to snacking on brownies and packing the flab back on?
I read an interesting book recently that gave a possible answer — and a solution. It’s called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Random House, 2012). He uses laboratory experiments and examples of people outside the laboratory to show that habit, not conscious decisions, drives most of our choices.
And habits aren’t necessarily bad. Duhigg points out that we would be overwhelmed without them. Habits are the brain’s way of streamlining our lives. Think about it. What do you do when you get up? Do you think, what shall I do first, get coffee or walk to the computer? Chances are you get up and start moving without thinking about it. You have a morning routine and you do it on cruise control while your brain is waking up and moving on to the day’s schedule that is NOT part of the habit loop.
I didn’t believe this at first, but made note of what I did each morning. It’s true. I
- Visit the bathroom.
- Weigh myself.
- Check to see how many people read my blog yesterday.
- See who is on Facebook.
- Make coffee.
- Have devotions
And I could go on for quite a while about what I do in the same order every single day without ever thinking about it.
It is the same with our eating patterns. We have certain things we like to eat in a particular place at a particular time. We may stop doing unhealthy things for a while, but if we aren’t aware of the triggers and don’t make a conscious effort to stop the cycle, we will continue to fall back into those familiar patterns.
We will be looking at what Duhigg and others say about habits in the next few blogs. Your challenge for today, though, is to start paying attention to your routine. Grab a pencil and notebook and start writing down what you do routinely– or at least what you are eating and where. What happened before you ate that doughnut? What time was it when you drank that sugary drink? Start noticing your habits and the situations that surround them.
When you can spot your habits and recognize the cues that set them off, you are on your way to overcoming them.
More on habits — and on using them to lead you to success — tomorrow!
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown