The New Year brings a fresh start and a renewed sense of hope to become the best version of yourself. Resolutions range from getting a promotion to spending more time with your family to the most popular: losing weight. Like clockwork, the number of new gym memberships skyrockets the first two weeks in January with people determined to shed those extra holiday pounds. While the right intention may be there, many people have a difficult time following through with their weight-loss goals.
There’s no denying that habits are hard to break, especially eating habits. But what if there is a way you don’t have to break any? Rather, you only have to add one new habit into your life each week.
In David Zulberg’s new book, The 5 Skinny Habits: How Ancient Wisdom Can Help You Lose Weight and Change Your Life FOREVER, he offers a unique approach to weight loss—based on the latest information on nutrition and wellness combined with the wisdom from Maimonides, a medieval Jewish expert in philosophy—to provide a comprehensive guide to a healthy body and mind.
So what makes Zulberg’s approach different?
- No food groups are left out.
- It teaches you how to form a habit.
- It enables you to transform your life at the right pace to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it.
We’re all creatures of habit, which can make it difficult to create lasting change. This excerpt on the power of habit and the food connection particularly stood out to me:
“Positive behavior characteristics are not acquired by doing great (positive) acts but rather through the repetition of many positive acts.”
It is not uncommon to hear people say, “I just can’t control myself” or “I don’t have enough willpower.” The truth is that this defense has validity. The reality is that willpower alone is weaker than a craving or a bad-eating habit! Current research substantiates that self-control is very limited. Let me explain why. The following example illustrates the interaction between subconscious habit formation, willpower, cravings, and our eating habits.
Imagine a thick piece of delicious chocolate cake with creamy icing melting over its edges, or think about the prospect of taking a second helping after finishing a satisfying meal. What is going on inside your head?
You hear one voice that says, “Mmm, I really want to eat this! I love chocolate cake, and this looks irresistibly yummy!” Or: “It’s my favorite food. I really want another helping. No one is looking.”
Then, suddenly, just before you reach out to take a second helping, a small voice interjects, “But you know you really shouldn’t. You’ll feel guilty later on. You’ll be sorry!”
We can all relate to this very common experience. Let’s take a few moments to carefully analyze the above inner debate—you will notice something fascinating. The voice that tempts you to eat the cake or take another helping is in the first person: I want to eat it; I love this food. In contrast, the “responsible” voice is in the second person: You know that you will regret this; you know you shouldn’t.
The voice that speaks to us in the first person is our first “instinctive” natural response: “I want that cake.” In contrast, the “logical voice” speaks to us in the second person: “You shouldn’t do it,” which makes it further removed. It’s almost as if another person is talking to us! If there is a clash between the “I” and the “You” responses, the “You” understandably stands very little chance. It is in a weaker position.
In Accounting of the Soul, Levin puts it this way: The sheer strength of “willpower” is inconsequential when compared to “desire.” If a sudden confrontation occurs between these two forces, willpower will be overwhelmed by desire.
In other words, faced with a delicious, creamy piece of cake or eating more after you are satisfied, your “willpower” to resist is actually much weaker than the “desire” to eat. Think of it in this oversimplified way:
Desire to eat the cake or overeat = 9 points
Willpower to abstain = 1 point
You may be able to overcome desire once or twice, but if you rely simply on willpower, you will ultimately “give in” to the craving and gobble down the piece of cake or stuff yourself even after you are satisfied. Your 1 or 2 points of “willpower” are simply less than the 9 points of “desire.”
If you’re persistent, habit causes the subconscious impressions to add up and accumulate. Let’s assume you resist the desire to eat the cake or overeat 10 times; you will have 10 points of willpower, which is greater than the 9 points of desire compelling you to eat the cake or overeat. Eventually the motivation and willpower to resist unhealthy behaviors overpowers the desire to indulge.
The 5-week buildup on our program will guide you step-by-step to achieve new, positive habits in line with your much-longed-for resolutions. Soon you will start to experience a real inner change! It’s even possible to reach a level where almost no inner conflict is experienced so that you won’t even feel like eating the cake or overeating at all.
From The 5 Skinny Habits: How Ancient Wisdom Can Help You Lose Weight and Change Your Life FOREVER. Copyright © 2014 David Zulberg. Published by Rodale Books. Reprinted by permission of the author.