Are you rolling your eyes yet? Weight loss? Fun?! If you are like lots of people, you may think that losing weight is anything but. Surprise, suffering is not required!
Most people look at weight loss as a punishment for their “crimes” or a necessary penance to endure. It’s this mindset that creates diet mentality – short-term thinking that creates short-term results.
While this frame of mind might seem minor, it’s likely the biggest thing standing in your way. When we are trying to change behaviors, we need to find some way to enjoy the process, or we have a difficult time maintaining the habit.
Yesterday, my friend asked me what my next blog was going to be about. I spouted off this idea about making weight loss fun, and he looked at me like I was crazy.
He challenged me with, “What about hunger pains? How do I make those fun?” I paused, and countered, “What if you congratulated your body and appreciated it for using fat that you had stored for its fuel? That is a party in your brain, that’s fun!”
He continued to look at me like I was insane, much like the look I’m sure you’re giving this page right now. Stay with me here.
What Science Says
In his book, Tiny Habits, B.J. Fogg explains how he found in his research that positive experiences reinforce habits. He says that “pleasure can reinforce a behavior and make it more likely to happen in the future.”
He says there is a neuro-chemical reason for it:
“Good feelings spur the production of a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger in the brain) called dopamine that controls the brain’s ‘reward system’ and helps us remember what behavior led to feeling good so we will do it again.”
Fogg believes that the theory of repetition creating habits is an old myth. “Emotions create habits. Not repetition. Not frequency. Not fairy dust. Emotions.”
We have probably been using this science all of our lives, without even realizing it!
I think we intuitively know and use this theory. Think of how we try to get babies to eat something new. We pretend like the food on the spoon is a “choo-choo train” to make it fun. How about the very popular “Silent Game” that we, as parents, use to make being quiet some kind of sport.
Putting Fun into Weight Loss
So, where do we start? Below are a few ideas to help inspire you to think of your own personal ways to make weight loss fun.
Ensure the Change You Are Trying to Make Is the Perfect Intensity
Not too hard, not too easy. If it’s too easy, such as only having 5 doughnuts a week as opposed to your current 6, it may be too easy. And is that really fun?
It is definitely not fun if it is too hard. If it feels stressful or impossible, it is likely too hard. Ask yourself how you could make the change easy and doable, so that it becomes a fun challenge.
Don’t Take the Process Too Seriously
Keep your sense of humor about the whole thing. Our thoughts around food can actually be amusing, if you pay attention.
Our brains trick us into thinking things like: “Food makes everything fun,” “She will be offended if I don’t eat it,” or “Just this one won’t matter.” Try to catch your brain offering these illogical excuses and laugh at yourself. These thought processes are normal, and most people have them.
Make It a Game or Competition
Try challenging yourself to create a string of successes, much like the Silent Game! For example, see how many days you can go without eating chips, then keep a chart or put stars on your calendar. Or, for you competitive folks that love to win, start a step counter competition with your friend to inspire you.
Schedule an Off-Plan “Joy Eat,” and Really Enjoy It Fully
You can’t start eating healthy and well with a snap of your fingers. It will take time. But while you wait, you can schedule an off-plan event. Look forward to it, then eat every single bite with joy.
Add Music to Anything You Are Doing That May Not Seem Fun
Play your favorite playlist while preparing your healthy food or exercising. Also, dance badly if necessary!
Bring the Fun
Don’t expect someone else, an event, or food to be fun. You be the fun when you need it.
The Real Trick!
People who know me, know that sooner or later I’m going to say that we’re really just making it all up, because I think when it comes down to it, we mostly are. We talk ourselves into things all the time with clever stories about how fun they will be, or how it will be beneficial to us.
If you do this consistently, you really do start to believe it, and then you can make this skill really work for you. The real trick is to make the choice to decide that your weight loss journey is fun. The science shows that this kind of attitude will help you create new habits.
If you are thinking about telling me that weight loss is just not fun and that I am a crazy person, just remember that you are making up this story. Weight loss can be enjoyable, you just have to decide that it is. Simple as that.
Have you created a habit by talking yourself into it? What habit was that? Do you see yourself doing the same when it comes to weight loss? What are some of your ideas to make healthy eating fun? Please share them below. I bet you can come up with more than your friends!