Weight Loss Tip Booklet - 151 Simple Ideas

Most of life is done by rote.

For most of us, alarm clocks buzz the same time every morning. The average grocery store stocks over 38,000 items; yet the standard shopper goes to the same store every week, usually on the same day, and chooses from the same few dozen items every outing. We become brand loyal, eating our meals at approximately the same period every day, leave for work at a uniform time, drive a standard route, and return home at a consistent hour every night. Evenings consist of consuming one of a few “favorite” dinners. Entertainment consists of books or magazines from a few select genres and a stable of favorite authors; or maybe a regular line-up of TV shows, which we watch while sitting in “our usual place,” and snacking — or not — on the same foods we had yesterday at the same time. At day’s end, we retire at the same time, even sleeping with the same person (hopefully), only to repeat these patterns come dawn.

This is not to suggest we are unimaginative, bland, nor boring; rather to illustrate that we are creatures of habit; no if’s, and’s, or butt’s about it.

Reality is these habits make life easier. Picture the above scenario where every single day consisted of an entirely new routine. Exciting? Sure — for a little while. After that, just plain exhausting.

The downside of a life assembled on a foundation of habits are the “side effects;” those unexpected results of our patterns. Make no mistake however; they are every bit as much a part of the habit as are the results we seek.  For example, if I’m bored, I eat. If I’m angry, I eat. If I’m sad, I eat. It’s a common routine. It allows me to feel better fast. After all, chips or ice cream not only alleviate boredom, but also go a long way toward holding negative feelings at bay — for the short term. The side effect is a weight gain. I get to feel good quickly, for the simple price of obesity long term.

Conversely, some people read a book when bored; when sad, call a friend; and when angry, take a brisk walk. (There is a clinical term for such folks: “Skinny.”) Whereby their habits also provide comfort, the side effects are healthier. Should I long for such results, I must also develop similar habits.

The thing is that it’s extremely difficult to “drop” habits. Since their sole purpose is to fill voids, simply abolishing them make those holes more painful. This in turn, triggers the very behavior we were trying to banish — which puts our actions at odds with our feelings. In a case like that, emotions almost always win out and the habit — and its side effects — strengthens.

To break this cycle, one must replace the offending behavior with a counterproductive one. So, rather than saying, “I won’t eat when stressed,” develop a plan, such as, “I’ll take a walk when stressed.”  Providing you don’t also grab a candy bar on the way out the door, the anxiety is still diminished — without the pesky side effect. Yes, feels awkward at first (because it’s not yet a habit), but given a few repetitions, it eventually forms a new, healthier, habit.

We never really get rid of habits. We put them in cold storage; we can thaw them out whenever we choose. Unfortunately we do that more times than we consciously choose, which is yet one more habit we can change.

About the author:

Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.

If deprivation was a successful weight loss strategy, obesity would be obliterated.

At first blush, sacrificing one’s favorites appears like it would blast away those extra pounds, and it does — but only temporarily. Long-term, it’s unnatural and ineffective.

Oh, sure, we can sacrifice our pet foods for brief periods. However, let’s face it, as the joke goes, seven days of bland makes one weak. Without variety, we get bored. Take away our special beloved “fun foods” and we give up, sometimes in horrifying ways.

As example, I decide to implement a new “healthy me lifestyle change,” a complete makeover of my insalubrious habits. My wife, ever the obliging supportive spouse; agrees to assist, so we commence a routine evening stroll. The weather is agreeable, walking burns calories, and the time allows us to re-connect after hectic workdays.

Along the route lies a small pizzeria. I am wise in the ways of weight loss and I know from unfortunate past experience, that the blend of salt, several varieties of cheese, as well as toasted doughy goodness, makes it problematic for me to lose weight. Therefore, I have sworn an oath of “pizza abstinence” until the scale reflects 15 fewer pounds. I am proud to announce that so far, all is going well. I’ve been “pizza-free” for well over three hours.

Fate however can be a cruel mistress and the gentle breeze this evening brings upon it a warm cheesy waft of mozzarella and garlic. As Ulysses being lured by the Sirens, my wife grabs tighter my hand, the rope attempting to bind me to the mast. Unhappily, she is not composed of wood and twine and I tear loose, hotfooting frenziedly into the eatery, no longer able to manage my impulse.

That’s when things got fuzzy.

Although I do not recall the incident after that moment, I am informed by my lawyer that the SWAT team pulled me from atop the front, shaking a terrified 19-year-old clerk by the lapels, flop-sweat streaming from my brow, spaghetti sauce dripping from my lips, while shrieking “Extra cheese, more pepperoni, and three pounds of garlic sticks — and no one gets hurt!”

Okay, I exaggerated (my demand was only two pounds of garlic sticks) but many a well-intentioned dieter has been kicked to the curb by an unexpected overwhelming urge for verboten foodstuffs.

The reality is that over-eating is an addiction; it might be  “small-A addiction,” but in many cases, it can be as debilitating as drugs or alcohol (and the societal cost is far greater). The difference is that with other addictions, one can go cold turkey. It might not be easy and one might need the support of others. Yet, a line in the sand can be drawn and never again crossed.

Food is obviously different. We need to learn to control our intake and to get away from the black/white, good/bad, on/off diet mentality. Thin people eat pizza. They eat chocolate too. Pay attention and you’ll even observe folks with a healthy waistline engaging in a bag of tortilla chips or a large scoop of ice cream. The reason they’re thin — and some of us are not — is that they don’t freak out about what they eat. Should they overindulge, they adjust by eating less or exercising more. For them, it’s habit. For the rest of us, it takes some thought, but anything of value usually does.
Pointing fingers at others

Cigarette smokers have long been relegated to the underclass of the social order. They are ostracized, even banished, from "polite society." This was hammed home to me recently while landing at Salt Lake City airport. Upon taxing to the terminal, the attendant takes to the microphone to make her customary proclamations: "Thank you for flying with us; we realize you have a choice of airlines. (I do?) Please don't remove your seat belt until the captain has pulled into the gate and, if you smoke, please do not do so until you arrive in the designated area inside the terminal."

Sure enough, literally smack-dab in the center of the terminal is an enclosed, glass-walled chamber where smokers light up and puff away to their heart's content. (That's probably a bad choice of expressions in light of the activity we're discussing.) What struck me was that through the grey misted air, they appeared as caged zoo animals, pacing in their restricted area, engaging in behaviors not accepted by the reminder of the population, while kept at a safe distance from those they could harm upon accidental release.

I found the whole thing to be incredibly sad.

Let me head off the armies of hacking militant, wheezing smokers who, even before they have finished reading this piece, are racing to computers to fire off angry missives about how I am insulting them. My comments are not as much levied at those who have chosen to engage in this habit as much as at the society that determines what is appropriate and what is not. Mores change and smoking, once considered "the cat's meow," is now considered gauche, existing in a strange societal limbo - scorned yet legal.

I am allergic to tobacco smoke. Moreover, having previously lived with a smoker, the stench that permeated and saturated everything from clothing to carpeting invoked regularly my gag reflex. So, I'm A-OK with the act being isolated. Yet, what is not tolerable to me is that it appears that we - the "Proper Members of Society" - are forever judging others in a misguided effort to feel better about ourselves, while ignoring our own annoying foibles.

Civility's spotlight, although not shifting from the nicotine user, has lately expanded to include the overweight. As with users of cigarettes, behind their backs, we shake our heads and whisper to our "normal" friends, "It's a shame that they don't take care of themselves. I'd never let myself look like that." We wag our fingers and click our tongues, satisfied that we are "better than that."

It's probably human nature to try and elevate oneself by putting down others. I know in my lesser moments that I am not immune. However, it seems that each and everyone of us has habits of which we would not want exposed to bright sunlight. Creating new sub-classes determined by what one eats or smokes is divisive, and we've got plenty of that going around.

I've got bad habits. You do too. It's not a reflection of self-worth; it is a method by which each of us is trying to make it through the day without collapsing under the weight of its stress. I'm not advocating abandoning personal responsibility and "let it all hang out;" quite the contrary. The process of growth is the cycle of "identify, adjust, and modify." It seems if each of us spent a tad more energy striving to be an example instead of a judge, it could alter the atmosphere just enough that we wouldn't need a cigarette - or bag of chips - quite as often.

About the author: Scott "Q" Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds over 15 years ago, he works with overloaded people and organizations who are looking to improve communication, change bad habits, and reduce stress. He can be reached for consulting, workshops, or presentations at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com. He will sometimes work in exchange for chocolate.