Your habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day. Who you are, therefore, is a result of your habits.
As habit expert James Clear puts it:
“What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray”
If you want to lose weight, you will need to change your habits.
Below is a simple, science-backed, 5-step system for doing so.
Step 1: Make a list of things that will help you achieve your goal
You probably already have quite a good idea of what you need to do to lose weight. You might include things like:
Step 2: Make it easy
Turn the items from your list into actions that are so easy you can do them without motivation. For example:
- Eat more veg –> Include a source of veg with dinner
- Exercise more –> Do 10 mins of exercise every day
- Eat more protein –> Include a source of protein with breakfast
- Get more sleep –> Go to bed 30 mins earlier than normal
- Drink more water –> Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up
- Meal prep –> Cook extra so you have leftovers for the next day
Don’t just copy the examples above – do what makes sense for you.
For example, if you normally drink 3 glasses of wine a day, aim to drink only 2. If you don’t eat any fruit, aim to eat just 1 piece a day. Again, the aim is to make it so easy you can’t fail.
Start small and gradually improve.
Step 3: Pick six to work on for 21 days
Credit for this part of the technique goes to Dr. Andrew Huberman.
From your list of easy, actionable, weight loss habits, choose six to work on for the next 21 days.
There are two important things to keep in mind:
- If you miss a day, there’s no punishment or trying to catch up. Just keep going with the next day.
- Know ahead of time that you’re almost certainly not going to do all 6 every day, and be at peace with it. Some things may not even make sense to do every day, such as heavy resistance training. That’s OK.
Step 4: Assess
After 21 days, stop deliberately working on the 6 habits.
For the next 21 days, go about your life as normal and see which of the habits ‘stuck’.
Step 5: Repeat
After 21 days, when you are sure your new habits have stuck, you can repeat the system for a new set of habits including any that didn’t stick from the original set.
As Dr. Huberman explains, the purpose of this system is to get in the habit of creating habits. To keep making incremental improvements in your life.
With that in mind, your new set of habits might be small increases on previous habits. For example:
- Include a source of veg with dinner –> Include a source of veg with lunch and dinner
- Do 10 mins of exercise every day –> Do 20 mins of exercise every day
- Include a source of protein with breakfast –> Include a source of protein with breakfast and lunch
- Go to bed 30 mins earlier than normal –> Go to bed 1hr earlier than normal
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up –> Drink a full flask of water every day
- Cook extra so you have leftovers for the next day –> Cook double so you have leftovers for the next 2 days
You are your habits
When most people think about losing weight they say things like:
“I want to lose 30lbs”
“I want to lose 30lbs by March 1st”
While it is useful to have something concrete to aim for, goals like these don’t answer the crucial question:
What steps will you take to lose the weight? And, most importantly, how can you make sure it is something you will stick with long-term?
The answer to both of those questions lies with your habits.
- Photo by Philip Ackermann from Pexels