Habits and Chains

Starting weight: 262.5
Current weight: 258.7
Pounds lost: 3.8
Next weight goal: 255.0

Starting BMI: 45.1
Current BMI: 44.5
Starting BMI designation: Morbidly obese
Current BMI designation: Morbidly obese
Next BMI goal: 43.8

Water intake goal: 10+ cups (80+ oz) – achieved!
Step goal: 2,300 – achieved!

Today’s post is on what Noom calls the “Behavior Chain.” Your behavior chain is your subconscious thought process behind your habits. My Noom assignment from, well, way too long ago, is to help myself map out the behavior chains behind my bad habits and replace them with new behavior chains.

For example, all behavior starts with a trigger. Your friend offers you hors d’oeuvres. You smell popcorn. All your friends are laughing while eating brownies. You’re tired and don’t want to cook.

After your trigger, you generally don’t immediately jump into action. You have to think first. You don’t immediately grab the hors d’oeuvres; first you think, “Mmmm, I want some.” You don’t just smell the popcorn and walk towards it; first you think, “You’re at a movie, of course you need popcorn!” You see your friends having a good time with the brownies and think, “If I don’t also eat the brownies, I won’t fit in!” Triggers lead to thoughts.

Next is your action. You take the hors d’oeuvre. You buy the popcorn. You pick up the brownie. Thoughts lead to actions.

But after the actions, oy vey. Your tastebuds are happy, but boy does your stomach feel awful after all that gooey butter. You may self-loathe for eating the brownie you didn’t really want. Actions lead to consequences.

Why is it important to know this process? So when you see those triggers, you can control your thoughts, which in turn control your actions, which in turn determine your consequences.

So let’s break down some of mine, shall we?

Like everyone on the planet, I have a lot of bad habits. I know I do. If they weren’t bad habits, I wouldn’t be here today writing on this blog about weight loss and behavior chains. For the purposes of today’s lesson, however, I’ll be talking about eating out.

I eat out 5 or more times per week. It’s awful. I just can’t seem to help myself when it comes to delicious restaurant food. Or frankly, even not-so-delicious restaurant food. Even when I pack my lunch, I think, “I’d rather go out.” It circles back around to the “Walks and Talks” post two posts ago about how I feel this compulsive need to leave my office for the lunch break.

My trigger is clearly, “it’s lunch time,” followed closely by, “I’m too tired to assemble this salad.” My trigger leads to thoughts.
“I just don’t want to sit by myself in the Commons.”
“I didn’t have time last night to pre-bake my sweet potato.”
“I ate well for breakfast so as long as I stick to the low-cal menu, it’ll be fine if I go out and save these leftovers for tomorrow.”

Thoughts lead to actions. I put my leftovers back in the fridge. I leave the building. I get in my car. I drive to the restaurant. I eat out too much. I don’t stick to the low-cal menu. I gorge. I storm eat. (More on that last one later.)

And actions lead to consequences. I feel sick. I feel self-loathsome. I blew my calorie budget by lunch.

So what’s a gal to do??

The fact is… I got nothing.

I mean, there’s sheer willpower, right? I see the trigger, I change my thoughts, which change my actions, which determine my consequences. Except, it’s not that simple; that’s why they’re called “habits.”

I’d like to say that I’ve figured this one out, but really, Noom hasn’t told me yet how to break the behavior chain, just how to identify it. (Breaking it must be tomorrow’s lesson.)

So, I’ll just end abruptly with my mantra for 2019: My yesterday is not my today and my today is not my tomorrow.

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