Today I’m going to talk about another common mistake that prevents people from achieving their weight loss goals. I’m doing a whole series this month on common weight loss mistakes, and we’ve discussed the first two already. The first mistake is not having a strong enough “why” to create sustainable motivation. The second mistake is not having a structured plan to help you get to where you want to be. The third one, which we’re discussing today, is a lack of routine.
Why Do Routines Matter?
This one probably sounds the most boring, because it sounds kind of tedious having habits and routines and plans. But ultimately, when you create routines, it serves two purposes.
Prevent Decision Fatigue
Firstly, when you create routines, you get into a rhythm; you know what to expect and it actually requires less decision-making. It’s actually more liberating, as opposed to not doing any planning, prepping, and thinking ahead of time. When you establish routines, you know you have what you need in the house for food, when you need it, so that when it comes to meal time, you don’t have to consistently make decisions since you have it planned and prepared already. There is something called decision fatigue, where you simply get tired of making decisions especially at the end of the work day when you are tired, hungry and dealing with other distractions in the home, and this can often cause people to fall off track. So, when you create routines, it is one less decision that you need to make and you are setting yourself up for success.
Hardwire your brain for new habits
Secondly, when initially establishing a new routine, you are using the prefrontal cortex part of the brain which does take more energy but eventually, as routines are repeated they become hardwired habits. These habits get stored in a different part of the brain which requires less thinking and less energy, it’s as though you’re on autopilot. It’s like learning how to drive. Initially when learning to drive, it takes a lot more attention, everything step is a new decision and you have to think about everything you do, but as you drive more and more, you become so used to the process that you no longer need to think about it carefully in order to be successful. You are on autopilot and it is easy. Likewise in weight loss, you create these routines that develop into habits, and it’s less tiring because they become second nature. This is especially important if you’re looking at a plan that might be several months long, you need to stick with that plan consistently, so routines and habits are very helpful. Just as importantly, this will help you keep the weight off because as your routines develop into habits it will be much easier for you to maintain your weight after losing it because they have become part of your lifestyle.
When you’re losing weight, you want to make sure there are elements in your plan that will allow you to transition from the losing phase of weight loss to the maintenance phase. It’s important that you are working on your routines, and building flexibility into the routines, so that you don’t have to change your plan when you enter the maintenance phase. This happens very often when people achieve their goal weight; putting weight back on often starts because someone has stopped doing the routines that were anchoring them. Not planning meals, not doing regular grocery shopping, not preparing ahead of time, stop drinking their water, these are all important routines that people stop adhering to.
The other part of routine is tracking: tracking food, tracking weight, tracking body measurements. You don’t necessarily have to do that forever, but it’s helpful to do this throughout the losing phase and carry it into the early stages of maintenance, so that you can keep track of how you’re doing. You want to maintain habits in that earlier maintenance phase until they are truly part of your day to day living, then you can have more flexibility.
So that’s the power of routines and habits. I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but in this journey, a lot of the magic is in those details. If you reflect on any major goals that you’ve achieved in life, there have probably been a lot of routines and habits that you followed, whether you realized it or not, in order to achieve those goals – weight loss is no different. Following routines and creating habits will support you in your weight loss, ultimately making the journey become a lifestyle so you can maintain your weight with ease.
If you would like to learn more:
1. You can book a complimentary call, and discuss your challenges, and obstacles, and together we can determine if my program is right for you.
2. You can also go to my Facebook page, @DrSherBovay, where you can find and join my Private Facebook group, The FastLane Mind Body Reset Mastery Group. Here, I host Facebook lives and frequent posts where you can engage and learn more.