Patterns, habits, and routines, no matter how we label them, your brain loves them. These repeated actions save your brain effort, so it is constantly looking to form them. In fact, the more actions that you can turn into subconscious habits, the less energy you must put toward thinking through basic behaviors.
We want certain actions to be habitual. It would be awful if we had to relearn how to brush our teeth every morning or had to consciously walk through each step just to tie our shoes.
The problem is that this habit-forming part of your brain doesn’t judge your actions as good or bad. If you do an action over and over again, your brain says, “Hey, let’s turn that into a habit.”
If you have bad habits when it comes to food, you find yourself staring into an open refrigerator with no recollection of how you got there, or your best intentions of not eating after dinner remain strong all day – until after dinner. You have some established patterns that make weight control difficult.
There is a way to step out of these habitual behaviors, and it is surprisingly simple. In this blog post, I share how putting 5% more effort into your awareness can get you 50% better control over your weight.
Better Weight Control – At-A-Glance
- Habits make us more efficient because it saves the brain from expending energy to perform mundane tasks.
- When any action (beneficial or harmful) is regularly repeated, it can become a habit.
- Paying 5% more attention to portion sizes (i.e., coffee cream, salad dressing, nuts, seeds) can help you find areas where you consume unneeded calories.
- Paying 5% more awareness of food choices and preferences can lead to more diet enjoyment.
- Paying 5% more awareness to self-talk and how things in your environment (i.e., external cues) affect your desire to eat can prevent you from overeating.
Put 5% More Effort Here & Get 50% More Weight Control [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Why spending the day on autopilot can do more harm than good.
- How the smallest diet and lifestyle changes add up quickly
- Four things to be 5% more aware of on a daily basis.
As I mentioned in the introduction, we spend much of our day on autopilot. This makes us more efficient because we don’t have to devote brain energy to mundane things. That ensures that we regularly take beneficial actions. Habitually brushing your teeth gives you healthy teeth. But it also keeps us doing things that are not beneficial, taking us down a path that leads to unwanted results.
In this post, I’m not going to tell you to change anything. I’m only going to ask that you become 5% more aware of your habitual actions. Chances are that you’ll look at some of them and think, “Why do I do that?” That realization alone can save you from consuming unneeded calories and falling victim to external cues that push you toward emotional eating or make you want to eat when your body doesn’t need food.
Portion Size Awareness
Automatic thoughts kick in for us first thing in the morning. As soon as your feet hit the floor, you are following a routine that, for most of us, ends up in the kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee. Do you add cream?
If so, does your pour look like a trickle or a waterfall? With each tablespoon of heavy cream adding 50 calories to your day, it is easy to imagine that the difference between a heavy pour and a light pour could be 150 calories. And because you do this action daily, the amount you add is likely pretty consistent. That means that over the course of a month, a person with a heavy pour is taking in 4,500 calories more than a person with a light pour.
It’s eye-opening when you shine a light on these seemingly trivial things, yet simply shining that light is often enough to make an easy change. This is where the notion of 5% more effort comes into play. The beauty of 5% is that it is non-threatening. You don’t have to make some major change; you just need to shine a light on your actions. That takes the pressure off and ironically makes it easier to change.
Step one: zone into your habitual pour and observe how much cream is going into your coffee.
Step two: ask yourself if a little less would still be satisfying.
You might even want to ask yourself if you need cream at all. For some of you, the answer will be YES. For others, you’ll realize that you’ve never even tried black coffee. Who knows, maybe it’s okay. That’s how I drink it, and to be honest, I don’t really like cream in my coffee.
This portion-size awareness is great to notice with any meal or snack. If you have a salad for lunch, put 5% more awareness into noticing how much salad dressing you add or how many nuts, seeds, or cheese crumbles you add.
When it comes to preparing dinner, put 5% more awareness on how much taste testing you are doing. Is it a finger dip just to make sure the seasoning is right or is the size of your taste test more like a pre-meal?
Again, it is just an observation to notice areas where you may subconsciously increase your calorie or carb intake.
If your actions are enjoyable and allow you to get the health and weight results you want, there’s no need to change. If not, then you just discovered something that was not on your radar that can pay off big with little effort.
Food Choice Awareness
You can use this 5% more awareness rule to broaden your food choices.
One of the best side effects of a low-carb diet is that your brain and tastebuds are no longer dulled by the intensity of sugar and refined carbs. That opens you up to a whole new world of flavors. Now, all you have to do is become aware of your past aversions and give them a second try.
An avocado is a good place to start for some of you. Do you really hate them? Maybe you do. That’s fine. But when was the last time you tried one? While you’re at it, try some roasted Brussels sprouts, sauerkraut, or plain full-fat yogurt with fresh fruit. Become open to retrying foods, and you will open up so much more enjoyment of your diet.
Maybe you’d benefit by putting 5% more awareness into your self-talk. Are you in the habit of justifying extra treats? Do you find yourself saying things like, “I had a small dinner, so a small dessert will be okay.” or “I’m going to have dessert tonight and get up a half hour earlier tomorrow to work out.”
External Cue Awareness
Or maybe you want to put 5% more effort into noticing how external cues affect your desire to eat. Are you ready to eat lunch, or is the clock on the wall – an external cue – telling you it’s time to eat?
External cues can be quite subtle. You might want to sharpen your awareness of how the sight, smell, or thoughts of certain foods affect your desire to eat or how the number on the bathroom scale makes you feel. That reading is an external cue that can be motivating or demotivating. Notice what it does to you and consider if it is worthwhile to weigh yourself daily or if it would be better to weigh in less often.
This act of becoming more aware is not meant to be a punishment or a way to put demands on yourself to change. Simply noticing destructive habits makes it harder to repeat them.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!