Lose Your Mindless Habits to Lose Weight

When it comes to achieving health and fitness goals, most people will tell you that willpower is heavily involved. While that may be true to an extent, Scottsdale Golf Fitness Trainers say there's a flip side to the weight-loss coin. Recent research suggests that in many cases, willpower isn't what's necessary to stick to your body transformation goals. Instead, it's the disruption of "mindless" habits.

Have you ever snacked in front of the television while watching your favorite show? If so, then it's likely there have been times when you ate an entire bag of chips or popcorn without even realizing you were doing it. Scottsdale Golf Fitness Trainers suggest it's these little habits that operate out of your conscious awareness that could be jeopardizing your ability to stick with the goals you've set. Scottsdale Golf Fitness Trainers wanted to find out what disrupts "mindless" habits, and what keeps them going. Researchers at the University of Southern California invited participants to watch 15 minutes of movie previews in a movie theater. Each participant was given a bag of popcorn to eat. What the participants didn't know is that the researchers randomly gave them one of two different possible bags of popcorn: either a bag of fresh popcorn or a bag of stale popcorn.

After the previews, researchers measured the amount of popcorn eaten. Those with a weak popcorn-eating habit (i.e. they don't normally eat popcorn while at the movies) ate significantly more fresh popcorn than stale. Those with a strong popcorn-eating habit (i.e. they usually eat popcorn while at the movies) ate the same amount, regardless of whether they received a fresh or stale bag. Those with the "mindless" popcorn-eating habit didn't even notice the popcorn was stale because the behavior is automatic and mostly unconscious. The researchers then invited the participants to watch movie previews in a conference room. Again, each participant randomly received either a fresh or stale bag of popcorn. The group who had eaten the majority of the stale popcorn in the movie theater (because of their strong popcorn-eating habit) stopped eating the popcorn in the context of a conference room. Just changing your environment or the context of where your automatic habit is triggered, is enough to disrupt it.

In yet another study, these same researchers conducted the same movie theater experiment. This time, they asked the participants to eat the popcorn with their non-dominant hand. Again, those who had strong popcorn-eating habits didn't eat the stale popcorn. Changing how you do something is enough to disrupt an automatic habit or behavior. How can you use this in your quest to transform your health and physique? According to Scottsdale Golf Fitness Trainers, 90% of getting in shape lies in your nutrition. If you have any bad habits involving snacking or "mindless" eating, you now have two tools you can use to change them. If you like to relax on the couch every night after work and snack while watching television, now you can change one of two things. Instead of eating unhealthy snacks, snack on veggies like carrot sticks, broccoli florets or snap peas. And instead of relaxing on the couch, try lying in bed and reading a book, or go for a leisurely walk, or call up an old friend. Focus on changing the context and how you normally do the "mindless" activity. Scottsdale Golf Fitness Trainers challenge you to break one unhealthy habit a month. By the end of the year, you'll be a whole new you! Read more health and fitness articles by Scottsdale Golf Fitness Trainers here.

1. David T. Neal et al. "The Pull of the Past: When Do Habits Persist Despite Conflict With Motives?" Pers Soc Psychol Bull November 2011 vol. 37 no. 11 1428-1437

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