One of the most common New Year resolutions is slimming and the desire to live healthier. But how do you keep up this resolution despite a stressful working day? We provide tips and approaches on how to pursue your weight loss goals in the long term and start the next bikini season without any problems.
Advent time, Christmas and New Year mean apart from contemplative hours, beautiful moments with friends and family above all delicious meal. Christmas cookies, mulled wine, fondue chinoise, Bûche de Noël and roasted goose often leave their mark on the scales. Soon the New Year’s resolution to lose weight is ready: In the New Year, people want to do more sports, eat healthier food and let their kilos tumble. After the first two enthusiastic weeks, however, one is all too quickly caught up in the evil daily grind. No time for a visit to the gym, because of the many meetings, it’s too cold outside for jogging, once you skip Pilates for a birthday party isn’t so bad, once a visit to McDonalds doesn’t hurt…
The excuses are manifold and very individual. Unfortunately, it’s usually not the omission of a training session or a snack in between, but the omissions are lined up one after the other until you’re back where you started: sad on the scales. The more often you miss a workout, the less motivation you feel to start over. It is not easy to find extra time for training and a healthy diet in stressful everyday life. So if you want to lose weight healthily at the beginning of the year, the “21-day rule” is a good way to break this vicious circle.
What is the day principle?
First of all it has to be taken away from the front that it is never easy to change existing habits. Especially not those that we have memorized over the years and that we almost unconsciously practice every day, such as snacking sweets or relaxing on the sofa with a ready-to-serve pizza after work. In this sense, there is no simple magic formula with which you can implement all your good intentions without difficulty. We want to change something, but this is so difficult precisely because there is also something reassuring about the stuck behavior. One lives with the thought that so far it has somehow worked. And because it is so comfortable and cozy, we invent excuses and quickly fall back into old patterns or never quite get out.
Various studies have shown that a person needs about 21-30 days to internalize a new action – in our case these would be the necessary steps to lose weight – so that it becomes a habit. This means that if you manage to keep up this initial hard period, the good, new habits will become an automatism from which you won’t fall out. In this way you can not only lose the desired weight, but also stay on your desired weight in the long run as soon as you get used to a new diet. This perseverance principle can be applied by the way universally also to all other New Year resolutions.
When losing weight with the 21-day rule, it is therefore a matter of showing stamina in the first three-week phase and gradually replacing the former bad habits with new ones until the inner pig is defeated.
Of course the duration of this overcoming phase depends strongly on the respective person. While some people may be satisfied with the three weeks, others need a little more time to break out of the old rut. However, the basics of this principle apply to every individual period.
What is my goal?
With the 21-day principle, the focus is always on a final goal. Especially because the way there is often full of stumbling blocks and seems hard, it is all the more important to have an enticing goal in mind that you can use to orient yourself even in difficult moments.
The first step must therefore be to define a final goal. Here the “why” is in the foreground: Why do I want to internalize a new habit?
It is best to write this down and place the note in a place where you pass it every day (e.g. the fridge, bedroom mirror, etc.). So you never lose sight of your goal and get a motivation boost each time you read through it again.
Questions for orientation can be:
- What do I want to achieve?
- What bothers me about my current situation?
- Why is a change important for me?
- How much energy do I want to put into my goal?
For example, if you want to lose a few kilos, one of the objectives could be as follows:
“I want to lose 5 kilograms because I don’t feel comfortable in my body at the moment. I want to get fitter again so that I don’t have a racing heart after climbing stairs. I want to fit back into my old trouser size, because the trousers are still all beautiful and I don’t want to spend money on new ones.”
Breaking the Power of Habit
In the next phase you have to deal with your own habits to understand why it is so difficult to discard them.
According to New York Times journalist and book author Charles Duhigg (“The Power of Habit”), it is possible to break out of the vicious circle by exploring the three basic characteristics that all bad habits share:
- a triggering stimulus
- a reward
- the resulting routine
So there is some incentive for practicing every habit. For example, you come home from stressful work, are very hungry and want to eat on the table as soon as possible. So it has to be quick and easy. (1) That’s why you choose a frozen pizza. During the meal, the feeling of reward comes into play: the pizza is delicious, it goes fast and you are finally full. (2) The subsequent feeling of the reward during and after the habit leads to the perpetual repetition of this habit, since our brain stores this feeling of well-being in connection with the habit. (3) This habit is repeated until it becomes routine and you don’t even think about it when you reach into the freezer.
Analyze the trigger of the habit:
- At what time do I follow the habit?
- Where do I follow the habit? What does my environment look like? Am I at home, outside, inside, in the office…?
- Who is in my environment? Does the habit go along with me?
- What do I hope to get out of the habit?
- What conditions are necessary for the triggering stimulus?
- What emotions do I feel before, during and after the habit?
- What is the reward I receive?
For the ready pizza and losing weight this means, for example:
When: come home in the evening
- emotions before habit: I am stressed, have no nerves, hungry, tired
- Circumstances: it has to go fast, wants to get full, no big cooking, after which the kitchen has to be cleaned up again.
- Emotions during habit: happy, satisfied, hunger soothed
- Reward / emotions according to habit: tasty food, goes fast, no dirt
This repetition routine can be interrupted by replacing old habits with alternatives. This gradually creates a new, positive routine, which is firmly established in the mind after about 21 days. For this, however, one must know and understand the triggering stimulus and the expected reward. It is important to recognize the dangers that can lead you into temptation. Only by breaking through this routine can the actual final goal be achieved.