Change can be hard. But change can be good. Whenever we want to modify an action that isn’t working for us, many times it involves changing our behavior. If losing weight or maintaining weight loss has been unsuccessful, do you know why? Did you simply try losing weight by following an unsustainable dietand then when you lost some weight or it became too difficult to follow, the weight came right back on? Perhaps the one thing missing was changing your behavior.
Behavior modification is a key component of successful weight loss and maintenance. Without it, falling back into old habits is inevitable. All it takes are some tried and true behavior modifications that have stood the test of time for many who have achieved their weight loss goals.
The following behavior actions can be used during both weight loss and maintenance phases of weight management. If you use each of them, good for you. But at the very least try out one or two a week until they become a regular pattern you just do automatically.
1. Eliminate inappropriate eating cues
· Avoid buying foods you know you can’t resist eating – why tempt fate?
· Eat only in one room of your house at designated times.
· Buy groceries when you are not hungry.
· Use dinner plates that are no larger than 9-10 inches in diameter. This helps with portion control.
· Avoid vending machines, fast-food restaurants, and convenience stores.
· Practice mindful eating. Turn off the TV, computer, iPads, etc. to fully concentrate on what you are eating.
2. Suppress cues you cannot eliminate
· Eat at least every 4-5 hours throughout the day. Avoid long stretches without eating.
· Create obstacles to consuming problem food – keep them hidden (out of sight, out of mind) or in inconvenient places to get to.
· Avoid sampling food while cooking – every bite can add up calories quickly.
3. Practice cues leading to appropriate eating and exercise
· Keep healthier foods such as fruits and veggies in convenient spots of the kitchen and refrigerator.
· Make it a habit to look at least one Nutrition Facts Label everyday on a food item you haven’t before. Pay attention to the serving size and amount of calories per serving.
4. Practice good eating and exercise behaviors
· Slow down when eating – chew each bite thoroughly before taking another to extend out eating.
· It’s okay to leave some food on your plate.
· Learn to listen to your body. Recognize when you feel full – that is when you should stop eating.
· Get up and move every hour when awake. Avoid long periods of not moving during the day.
· Have a goal to exercise at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous activity.
5. Treat yourself when you have accomplished weight loss or maintenance goals – but not with food
· Buy tickets to a sporting event, movies, concerts, or other nonfood activity.
· Indulge in a small purchase.
· Get a massage, buy some flowers.
· Read a good book.
· Treat yourself to a new lesson in a new active pursuit such as horseback riding, tennis lessons, dancing.
· Take a long nap or relax.