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The topic in WeightWatchers meetings this week was all about habits. In one of my groups a member raised her hand and asked “Doesn’t it seem like with weight loss that all habits are bad!?”
That brought out a chorus of opposition, of course. But I think what she was hitting on was the fact that so often “bad” habits that cause us to overeat are so automatic, whereas being a healthy eater feels like it takes constant exertion and vigilance.
If a habit, by its nature, is an easy no-brainer, then tracking food, eating more vegetables and measuring portions don’t seem to fit the bill.
The behavioralists say it works like this: trigger >> action >> reward. Something gets us started, then we take the action, and finally we experience the benefit.
For me (and I think this might be true for you too!), food is the ultimate reward because it’s easy to get, it’s fast, and it’s pleasurable. Reaching for that bag of chips, or grabbing “just one more” cookie out of the box is all about that sensation of pleasure (presumably a shot of dopamine in our brains).
What’s surprised me, however, is that some good habits actually *are* pleasurable to me. Not just running (which also makes the brain chemistry happy), but also eating well and making good decisions. Sticking bravos on my tracker, believe it or not, got me back to tracking accurately for the first time in almost a year. Weighing and measuring my food has actually given me a jolt of satisfaction –presumably because it feels good to do the right thing.
At the moment my weight journey seems to have taken a turn for the better. I’m betting on the idea that if I just keep reinforcing the good stuff, those good habits will keep helping me out.