At one point or another, everyone has given themselves the mental, pre-diet pep talk.
"This is it, I'm going to make weight loss a habit. I'm really going to stick with it this time."
And what happens? Four days later you're laying on the couch watching reruns of Entourage with the notorious 3000 calorie pasta bread bowl. Making weight loss a habit is not easy, and is not something that happens right away. But if you are determined to truly make dieting and exercise a part of your daily routine, there are some strategies you can employ.
21 Day Rule
Many studies about human behavior credit the "21 day rule", which states that it takes approximately three weeks of doing something everyday for it to become ingrained in your brain as part of your everyday schedule. The 21 day rule applies to a lot of hobbies and skills, and weight loss is no exception. If you want losing weight to become a habit, then the most important point to keep in mind is to just grit your teeth and stick with it. Don't give in to the $.99 large fry at Burger King on Day 15, regardless of how many coupons they send in the mail.
Why do people take photographs, play video games, paint, or do other hobbies on a regular basis? Their brains have classified these activities as fun or relaxing. If you can make your brain see weight loss as fun, than it too can become a habit. This means, no matter how difficult it may be, start looking forward to that morning jog or afternoon weightlifting session. Eat that grilled chicken salad with a big smile on your face. Get your brain to start releasing those endorphins whether it wants to or not. A simple change in attitude can give you an entirely different, and far more positive outlook on the things you do every day, in addition to your academic or professional life. Stop thinking of those 20 minutes with the punching bag as wasting time in the evening, and instead see it as a necessary way of you unwinding after a long day. Even if it's been an exhausting eight-hour struggle, do it anyway and make yourself feel better.
Keep a Track
Another tip that most professionals will agree on is that if you want to make weight loss a habit, give yourself ways of tracking your progress. The most obvious way of doing this is by simply investing in a scale and stepping on it daily. However, many experts have debated as to whether or not this is the best way to measure your success. For instance, most people will lose a large amount of water weight in their first week, and then slow down afterwards. If you will find it discouraging to lose five pounds during your first five days, yet only half a pound after your first 10 days, then you may want to avoid a scale. Instead, make a habit of measuring what you can do, and weight loss will come naturally. If you are running, then try out something like the Nike+ mobile application to track your speed and distance. If you are lifting weights, then print up an Excel spreadsheet and fill in the number of reps you can do.
By taking the initiative early on like this, you are sending a message to the rest of your body that eating healthy and exercising is something you do regularly, just like brushing your teeth and combing your hair. If you can trick your brain into believing that weight loss is a habit, then it will become one entirely on its own. And once you start to see success in bettering your physical health, you will start to see you routine change in other ways too. Making weight loss a habit is just the stepping stone into making self improvement and the constant act of bettering oneself a never-ending ritual.