Weight loss tends to be built on the formula of exercise and diet – but there’s another vitally important component needed for success.
A new study from Australia’s Bond University published in the Journal of Obesity has revealed that above all else, building healthy daily habits into a lifestyle not only helped shed unwanted kilos but also helped keep the weight off.
‘I think the really cool thing about habit change isparen that it fits in with everybody, there is no specific meal plan or exercise regimen,’ study author, Dr Gina Cleo, revealed to Woman’s Health.
Diet and exercise are generally considered the only ways to lose weight, but there’s a third factor that can help with success (stock image)
Dr Cleo’s team looked at how methods for altering behaviour affected a sample group of 75 overweight or obese people.
The group was split in three, one that followed a program that promoted breaking old habits, one promoted new habits and one group was a waitlist control.
The group which focused on breaking habits were sent a text message each day with a task designed to interrupt usual routines. These included things like ‘drive a different way to work’ or ‘help a local charity’.
The habit-forming group were encouraged to incorporate ten healthy lifestyle changes into their daily routine. Planning and self-monitoring were among the changes.
The research found, above all else, building healthy daily habits into a lifestyle not only helped shed unwanted kilos but also helped keep the weight off (stock image)
At the end of the 12-week trial, both groups reported losing an average of 3.1kg and after 12 months had lost another 2.1kg each.
How do we form habits?
The 21-day rule doesn’t necessarily apply across the board when it comes to forming new habits
On average it takes 66 days to change a habit but this can vary between 18 and 254 days depending on the behaviour you are trying to change
According to Australian psychologist Dr Amanther Imber a new habit can be formed by using the word ‘don’t’
Dr Imber says research has shown people who say ‘I don’t’ rather than ‘I can’t they are 50 per cent more likely to stick to a behavioural change
The group also reported eating more fruit and vegetables, exercising more frequently, and greater feelings of wellbeing.
‘Habits don’t require our self-control and that’s my favourite part about this whole research, is that you can be eating healthy and doing exercise without the need for self-control because you’re not even thinking about it because it’s just something that you do,’ Dr Cleo said.
While introducing new habits was fundamental to making sustainable change, the key to successfully implementing change was to take a slow but consistent approach.
According to Dr Cleo, those focusing on weight loss could start with implementing smaller changes such as consistent meal times or making a commitment to walk 10,000 daily.
‘If we can work at small little habits that are healthier for somebody’s lifestyle then over time they can do those without thinking about it and gradually lose weight.’
Dr Gina Cleo’s 10 habits for weightloss:
Incorporating small habits on a daily basis can result in lasting change (stock image)
1. Keep to a meal routine
2. Go for healthy fats
3. Walk off the weight
4. Pack healthy snacks when you go out
5. Always look at the labels
6. Caution with your portions
7. Break up sitting time
8. Think about your drinks
9. Focus on your food
10. Always aim for five serves of vegetables a day