Weight Loss Success: Make New Habits or Break the Old?

Which works better for weight loss: creating new healthy habits or getting rid of bad ones?

A small but clinically significant study was recently published in the International Journal of Obesity that addressed this question. The good news is that BOTH interventions produced sustained weight loss at one year, with the 21 adults who created new habits having a 6.2% weight loss (roughly 12.5 lbs) and the 22 adults who worked on breaking unhealthy habits having a 4.8% (10.1 lbs) weight loss.

The intervention group that tried new habits followed the researcher’s “Top Ten Tips” which included fairly predictable weight loss strategies such as walking 10,000 steps/day; reading labels, watching portion size and reducing fat content; packing snacks and sticking to a meal routine; choose water over other drinks; slow down and be mindful while eating; and of course, my standard preach of at LEAST 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day.

Interestingly, the bad habit breaking group was called “Do Something Different” (DSD). The concept was to “increase behavioral flexibility” by being assigned a different task to perform each day during the 9 week initial intervention. Tasks could include choosing a different route to work or wearing a new outfit, or even writing a short story.

I love the focus on all-around behavioral flexibility that includes new healthy habits. Consider challenging yourself (or better yet, share a challenge with a friend or family member to increase your accountability) to “Do Something Different” each day on your path to a healthier you. My challenge today? Substitute water for my recently “snuck back in” habit of having a soda with my lunch.

BOTTOM LINE: Try to “Do Something Different”- even one small change each day towards a healthier you.

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