If there’s a will, habits find the way

One of the most common pitfalls with dieting is what psychologists call the “What the hell effect.” Anyone who has diligently abstained from chocolate cookies for weeks, only to break down and eat the whole box after having a single one knows what this means. The relentless practice of good behaviour can certainly consume a tremendous amount of energy, but once something becomes a habit, willpower can take a rest.

A positive attitude

The preoccupation with what we are missing as opposed to what we may find will send any committed undertaking, including weight loss, toppling to the ground. Our attitude is our driving force. If we think of an activity as enjoyable, it will smoothly slip into a habit. If we think of it as a task and associate it with pain, boredom, or deprivation, we will only drag our sorry selves to the plate for so long. Eventually the excitement over the accomplishment of a goal will be outweighed by all the fun we think we’re missing out on.

Familiar or fun?

We often crave the familiarity of a habit as much as – more than – the bliss that habit provides. Habits make life predictable – eliminating the need to make choices all day long. It makes sense that when we embark on a new eating regimen, some of the frustration we feel comes from having to make decisions about everything we will and won’t eat. Unlike our old unconscious routine, new habits initially demand extra effort, organization, and planning.

It takes time and a steady stream of patience, but eventually, these new habits will become simple, second-nature, and shockingly, satisfying. When you feel that urge to eat the entire box of cookies, remind yourself that it’s just the brain having a little fit. It’s not a fan of change at first, even when change is for the better. It will come around.

So what do you think?