In this podcast episode, I discuss the book Mini Habits for Weight Loss by Stephen Guise and his strategies for avoiding bad habits and staying focused on healthy habits, specifically in the context of weight loss. He suggests eight strategies for getting away from bad habits, such as direct resistance, negative reinforcement, and substitution. He emphasizes the importance of making small, consistent changes and being mindful of our choices. He also encourages listeners to focus on adding healthy habits rather than just subtracting unhealthy ones and to avoid making moral judgments about our behavior. Ultimately, he argues that lifestyle and weight are closely linked and that gradual changes can lead to lasting results.
[Music] Have you ever wondered what kinds of skills can you use to help you avoid bad habits, so you stay focused on the habits you want to have.
That’s what we’ll talk about today.
[Music] “99% of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
” George Washington Carver Today we’re going to continue our conversation, “Mini Habits for Weight Loss” by Steven Geiss.
So up to this point we talked about why mini habits work, how we can make mini habits work for us, and now we’re going to have some helpful hints about how to keep habits, make habits stronger, and make the things that go against our habit go away.
He gives eight strategies to help us get away from anything.
So you could just stop doing it, which he calls direct resistance.
We’re not going to do it anymore.
We can limit it.
That’s weaning off, he says.
We can stop buying it.
So if we’re having trouble with ice cream, we stop eating ice cream because we never buy ice cream.
That’s my strategy.
I’ll tell you right there.
I talk about it in other podcasts where I won’t buy snacks at the grocery store.
to have them but I have to go out and get them so I’m pitting my laziness up against my desire to have ice cream.
He says that we can 4) do negative reinforcement so that there’s a consequence.
You have to put a dollar in a jar every time you have ice cream.
You have to give your friend a dollar every time you eat ice cream.
Some sort of a negative thing.
You can try to substitute it.
This is another strategy I make use of instead of eating ice cream and and substitute a bad thing for something that’s still sweet, but is a little bit better for me.
I got away from eating snack foods by getting those Klaassen pickles.
If you ever had that brand, they’re crispy, they’re crunchy.
When you bite into them, they kind of make that snappy noise.
So it feels like a snack and it’s salty and it has a lot less calories.
So I replaced snack foods with pickles.
It works a little bit and it works some of the time, Not all the time for sure.
The sixth strategy, he says, is to try to delay it.
Say, okay, I get you on ice cream, but let’s try to wait an hour and just see if we can get away from that initial craving, that initial momentum that’s going against us.
And that actually works pretty well.
I found it a particularly great strategy for budgeting.
Oh, I want this thing.
And you have it in your shopping cart and you think, oh, I’m gonna buy this awesome thing.
if you wait a couple of days you look at your shopping cart and you go, “How was I gonna buy that.
” The urge is gone.
That overwhelming desire for it goes away.
He says number seven, you could create an alternate way or pair it with a different reward so that we actually have a positive reinforcement.
So if I don’t eat ice cream I can go ahead and play video game for an hour.
So you’re pairing it with something else to try to get you away from doing it.
Or number Number eight, you actually make yourself do something first before you do the thing you want.
His example is if you want soda, which is unhealthy for you, then you can instead say, “Well, I have to drink a full glass of water before every time I drink a soda.
” And that way, you might be too full after you drink the full glass of water.
Maybe it satisfied your thirst, and so now you don’t feel like the soda anymore.
So this is another way, a healthy obstacle he calls it.
a little bit like that diet I read in the Teen Magazine where it had you eat like 60 different kinds of vegetables before you got to the chocolate.
He says it’s important that we try to do addition over subtraction and that means that if we constantly cut things out of our lives we’re gonna start feeling deprived of things or that we’re not living happy life or full life or we’re not all that excited about something.
It makes things feel less.
So if you decided you were going to play less video games because it causes you to exercise less, now you feel deprived and now you don’t feel like you want to do this plan anymore at all.
So instead if you’re actually doing less things it can be really difficult.
But instead what if we actually replaced it with something.
Instead of maybe playing video games you find an activity you really like to do then it will help you to that.
I have one of the Oculus Quest 2s and instead of sometimes sitting there and playing video games where I’m sitting down I’ll say why don’t you go upstairs and play with your Oculus for a while.
I have this amazing Star Wars game that I just am thrilled with and I can be standing there and actually moving a little bit for almost an hour or two instead of sitting on the couch for an hour or two.
So I’m adding something into my life instead of removing something to my life.
And he says that the more times we can avoid the things that will break us down, cause us to leave our system, have us go backwards on our behavior plans.
And if we can actually add to our life instead of avoiding things, we’ll suddenly find ourselves back on path because we’re not punishing ourselves by not playing video games or not watching TV or not eating that awesome thing.
We want to eat.
If you’re just constantly breaking yourselves down and making sacrifices and not getting to the thing that you want to do, you’ll start feeling sad about things.
You’ll start feeling like your willpower is waning.
And so instead he says we should think about this as if we’re training.
You know, when we try to do a new habit or a new skill, or he even mentions athletics, you know, imagine if you were going to take up archery and the first couple of times you shot an arrow out of a bow, you were terrible at it.
He says, okay, this is a new habit I’m just trying, I’m learning, I’m training, you would give yourself some grace about it.
But when it comes to things like weight loss or it comes to things like making new behaviors, we tend to be too harsh on ourselves.
Why can’t we say I’m training, I am training to eat better.
Alright so yesterday I didn’t do such a good job.
You know what I’m learning, I’m in training, I’m gonna learn to do better.
Make it a positive aspect instead of being a constant drag on it.
And he says in the end that lifestyle and weight are white on rice and cold on ice, meaning they’re bonded together, that we’re not going to lose weight and we’re not going to change our weight until we change our behavior, our lifestyle, and we become that kind of person who can lose weight.
He says that when we say the word can’t, we’re almost like a child saying, I can’t do this and I can’t do that.
And my parents say I can’t come over.
And the thing he calls the can’t strategy is not what an adult does.
There is no can’t.
Of course you can.
And of course you would.
The difference is, is that you are going to be the kind of person who does.
And you are going to be the kind of person who is in control of their lives.
And if you say can’t, you’re almost making it like you’re not an adult anymore.
That there’s some awful person out there who’s deciding you’re not allowed.
always remember that in the end you are control, which is why he says in the end, this is not a book telling you what you must do.
This is a book that is going to help you come up with habits and behaviors that will lead you to the thing you need to do.
So he gave a study where people were told to say, I don’t eat X and other people who are told I can’t eat X.
And then they tested to see which person followed through later with a healthier food choice.
And the person who says I don’t saw a 64% of the time that they actually followed the healthy choice but with the people who said I can’t only did so 39% of the time.
And he says that the reason that don’t works is because it’s something based on us.
Again I identify as someone who can lose weight.
I identify as someone who lives a healthy lifestyle.
The choice is yours.
When you say don’t, it’s because it means you picked it.
When you say I can’t, that means there’s some big bad person in your life controlling you and instead you are always in control.
You are the one who’s going to determine things that you do and the things that you don’t do.
And he says that in sometimes can’t might lead to a rebellion.
Oh I can’t eat desserts.
And then one day you you just bust out of it.
Who says I can’t eat desserts.
Look at me eating this whole gallon of ice cream.
I showed you can’t, you know, so it can cause even rebellion.
If we say the word can’t instead of saying don’t I don’t eat those kinds of foods because they don’t lead to a healthy lifestyle.
He says it’s important that we don’t make more morality choices based on this.
You’re not a bad person.
If you break your lifestyle choices, you’re not a good person.
If you keep your lifestyle choices.
These are all things that we just do.
These are activities that are going to lead us to a healthier lifestyle or will eventually lead us to a less healthier lifestyle, depending on what we pick.
But in the end, it’s not a moral thing.
It’s not a judgment and we’re not bad people.
The worst thing about it is, is if you’re trying to lose weight and you say, “Oh, I can’t lose weight.
I never give up dessert when I’m supposed to, and I never exercise.
” Now you’re depressed about it and you feel unmotivated for any of it.
And if you do that you’re gonna get farther and farther away from your goal.
I think that’s what happened to me when I got injured.
Well now I can’t exercise because I’ve injured.
Here I did all this great work, I lost 75 pounds and now I’m injured you know and I just got into that pity motion with the whole thing.
You can’t go there and you can’t make moral judgments on it.
What you do is you do the best you can at every choice.
And again, because we’re doing the mini choices, then we’re not going to fail because these are so small, we can’t fail.
He says, we’re not dogs.
Don’t treat yourself like a dog where we’re just hoping for the biscuit.
We’re hoping for the pat on the head, being told that we’re a good dog or a bad dog.
And again, our goal is not to lose weight.
Our goal is maybe to maintain the weight we have, or maybe our goal is not to gain weight, but again, we’re trying to change into a healthy lifestyle.
The weight is the thing that we’re gonna sort of look out the side of our eye and see if we’ve done better.
But he says to watch out for some of the exceptions, the places where we lose consistency.
Some of the times we’re with friends, we’re like, “Oh, well, I’m just with my friends.
“We’re gonna just have a good time tonight “and I’m gonna go back to it.
” When we make too many exceptions, then we’re gonna break out of that behavior change, that habit change, and then we’re going to eventually break out of our healthy lifestyle.
He says the other thing to do when you’re thinking about living a healthier lifestyle is to make moving more a bigger part of your life.
If you like to dance, I used to work with someone who loved to dance.
She’d just put the music on and she would dance.
Even if you’re doing an unregulated activity, it’s better than sitting in the chair.
And if you could just even dance a little bit, maybe do a pushup or two while you’re waiting for your dinner to finish, those small moments are gonna help you.
And again, keeping that low bar, one pushup.
10 seconds of stretching, 10 seconds of moving, walking for one minute.
But when you always have the option to do more, sometimes you might do more, but that’s not the goal.
The goal is the tiny habit.
So the goal, he says, in the end is to be steady, which is important than doing something big.
Make sure that you eat enough and that you don’t trigger that scarcity mode.
You know, if you feel like you’re depriving yourself, you’ll just get into a bad place.
And he says, always remember you’re in control.
He says, quote, “When you’re in charge “and when your strategy is flexible enough “to adapt to your life and the subconscious desires, The gradual changes you make can last a lifetime.
See how important that is.
We’re changing for a lifetime.
And the side effect of all this is that we’re going to live a healthier life, be more mindful of our food and be more healthy.
He says that there’s no limits in his choices, that he’s allowed to go out and eat unhealthy foods if he decides he’s going to.
But he makes sure that it’s a very rare occurrence And it only happens from time to time.
And that you don’t want to get into this pit of choosing between the stupid salad I have to eat, and I always like calling my salad stupid, or the amazing forbidden food that you’re just craving to do.
If you’re going to change for a lifestyle, every once in a while, you’re going to have the French fries.
Just not going to do it that often.
You’re going to make it a special thing instead of a daily thing.
But in the end, brute force won’t make us happy.
It won’t make us have progress.
It’s going to be that slow, consistent lifestyle change.
And in the end, make it easy.
We’re going to put our clothes out.
We’re going to make our goals as simple as possible to get.
And we’re going to mindfully eat.
We’re going to pay attention to the things we’re doing because paying attention is the kind of thing a person who lives a healthy life, a person who can lose weight does, if you’re always just sort of buzzing through and not paying attention to what you eat, not paying attention to how you’re losing your time, not paying attention to how many days you’ve gone by without exercising or doing something healthy, that’s where it gets lost.
So us being mindful, us being in control, is going to help us every time.
And if you’re interested in learning more about tiny habits just in general, the very first podcast I did September 14th, 2020 talked about BJ Fogg and tiny habits and how you can break it up.
But it’s a fantastic book too if you care to read about it.
So I think this book is great.
It talks really about this fantastic strategy of getting in the right frame of mind to live a healthier lifestyle, to lose weight, to get your goals.
Again, he’s not going to tell you what to do.
I think that you probably know what it is you need to do.
There’s a movie called LA Story where one of the characters says she looks in the mirror and then she sees whatever is the first thing that’s most obvious to her and then she takes it off because it means it’s grabbing too much attention.
I think that’s the way it is with this small habits bit too.
You know what the one thing you could do that would make the biggest change in your weight loss or healthy living style, you know what it is.
For me it would just be measuring everything I eat and sticking to those measurements.
I I know what I need to do.
So now how can you build a tiny habit around that.
Maybe I just measure the amounts of fats I eat, knowing that if I have a little bit more of this or a little bit more of that, reducing the amount of butter or the amount of oil I eat would make the biggest change.
So making that small habit, again, so easy you can’t do, and picking it from your own life, you’re in control because you know what it is you need to change the most.
Alright, so my challenge to you is pick one thing that would make the biggest impact on your life.
Whether it’s losing weight, whether it’s saving money, and build one tiny habit, one mini habit around it.
Can you just measure the amount of food you eat for dinner.
That’s the biggest meal.
And if you just measure those things, you’ll have a much better go at it.
but come up with something that’s so small, takes under a minute and is impossible to fail.
Again, that one pushup.
And see if you can just build on one tiny habit, one mini habit, just this week.
All right, everyone, thanks so much.
I appreciate you listening to the podcast.
Please remember that I’m on Twitter and I’m trying to tweet new things out, give good ideas for you to have practical changes in your life.
And you can find my Twitter account, my email and all sorts of different ways you can contact me by going to my website, smallstepspod.
And remember that you can change your life, your lifestyle, by taking small steps.