Updated: May 11
Are you having a hard time sticking with a health habit? You are not alone. Habit-forming can be hard. Want to make it easy? Learn to dance the E-Mambo!
The more you E-Mambo, the more likely a health habit will stick! Let's look at each one more closely.
Exercise is considered a keystone habit. A keystone habit plays a significant role in supporting other habits. According to Duhigg in the Power of Habit, exercise has a direct impact on other habits. 'When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly... It’s not completely clear why…Exercise spills over... There’s something about it that makes other good habits easier.’
Exercise is essential for long-term weight loss.The best predictor of successful long-term weight loss is to develop and sustain an exercise program,' (Jakicic et al., 1995, 1999; Klem et al., 1997; McGuire et al., 1998, 1999; Schoeller et al., 1997).
Self-monitoring allows you keep tabs on your progress and adjust your habits accordingly. Research shows that, self-monitoring of food intake is often associated with a relatively immediate reduction in food intake and consequent weight loss' (Blundell, 2000; Goris et al., 2000).
I'm not a fan of monitoring food or calories, but I want to lose a few more pounds. So instead, I am weighing myself every Friday and logging my weight on iPhone's Notes App. Every time I log in my weight, I get a sense of how close I am to the goal and celebrate or tweak my habits for the next week.
Try self-monitoring the first two months of starting a new habit and during periods of anticipated setbacks (i.e., holidays, work project, special event).
Accountability is being answerable to someone else regarding the habits you are developing. Other than exercise, accountability might be the most important factor in sticking to your health habits. People who combine a weight management program with accountability are more likely to be successful (Heshka et al., 2000).
Accountability can come from a professional coach, nutritionist, or trainer, or a social media or affinity group, or in the age-old buddy system. Be accountability to others. We are better together!
Stress and weight gain go hand in hand. Researchers have linked weight gain to stress. One-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale (Harvard Health Publishing). Finding techniques to reduce stress can be critical for some individuals who overeat in response to stress. Reduce stress by exercising, relaxation techniques, and through social support.
Relapse is expected. Relapse, temporary loss of control, and return to old behaviors is common. The key to relapse prevention is learning to anticipate high-risk situations and to devise plans to reduce the damages. Patients need to learn to forgive themselves for a lapse and view it as a “learning experience.” Reestablishing control is crucial (Brownell and Kramer, 1994).
When you relapse, be kind to yourself. Forgive, learn from it, and get back to your habit. Don't allow one meal pull you over the edge. Bounce back at the next meal or the next day.
Along with bouncing back is the idea of anticipating and preparing for your external and internal saboteurs. The external saboteurs are the people, distractions, and/or limitations that can potentially hinder progress. Identifying who and what they are and how to overcome them will set you ahead of the curb.
The internal saboteur, also known as the inner critic can be the most damaging form of sabotage. The inner critic is the negative self-talk that stunts habit progress. It's that critical nagging voice in our heads. Knowing it's voice, when it shows up most often, and finding ways to shush it, will help with habit follow-through.
Each of these factors plays a significant role in sticking to your health habits. Adopt the E-Mambo for a successful habit forming process!