You’ve spent days, weeks, and months trying to transform your eating habits. You’ve tried meal prepping and various popular diets, each one of them emphasizing eating certain food groups and foregoing others. You’ve followed all the rules, lost a bit of weight, and started to feel fresher, healthier, more energetic. Then, something happens. Maybe you get a cold or have to spend all week working late, prepping for a big presentation. And the first thing to go is that complicated diet that never really fit into your life, anyway. You slip back into unhealthy eating habits. Sure, you could stick to a diet when everything else was going right, but those perfect moments are rare and don’t last. And once they pass, that energetic feeling passes with them, and your weight yo-yo’s back up.
This scenario is so common that the details of it are bland, even boring. The thing people usually don’t talk about, though, is why this happens. It’s because despite taking on a big new pattern with these diets, you didn’t fundamentally change the shape of your life in a lasting way. Real lifestyle changes, especially big ones, need to happen incrementally and then be sustained over time.
The creators of the health/lifestyle app Noom have found that there are a myriad of healthy habit shifts that go into making the changes that will improve health in a significant, lasting way:
Good Science Can Help
Small incremental changes are easier to make than big one-time changes, but sustaining anything over time is always going to be harder than deciding not to eat bread for one month.
The creators of Noom have found that the best way to sustain change is through cognitive behavior therapy. CBT is a goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that addresses patterns of thinking and behavior, identifying behavior chains (trigger, thought, action, consequence) and helping people understand how to break their unhealthy chains and form new positive ones. Psychological researchers focused on CBT have found that we most often flourish when we’re repeatedly shown where our thinking leads us astray, and then are offered better alternatives. Basically, in order to reshape our eating habits, we don’t just have to change what we eat, we have to change how we think about eating.
Goal Setting That Actually Works
Every diet, health system, and weight loss app encourages goal setting, but they generally focus on one large goal that might take months or even years to achieve. Also, their goals are basically one-size-fits-all: lose weight.
Psychologically speaking, dividing a huge goal into smaller, more achievable steps is the most reliable way to make real change in your life. You might always have that ultimate big goal in the back of your mind, but the only way to actually reach it is to work through smaller goals on the way to the larger one. For example, if you eat carb-heavy meals like rice bowls or pasta every night, it isn’t realistic to go from zero to salad five days per week. Instead, you could include a side salad with all your dinners–and eat it before your main.
Why is it hard to make a small first step like adding a side salad to every meal? That answer is actually different for almost everyone. Noom’s network of specialists will dive deep with you to figure out what personal barriers you have that are keeping you from permanently shifting your eating habits towards healthiness. Then, it will help you set your personalized small goal, using CBT techniques and weekly one-on-one check-ins to make sure you follow through, and give you props when you do. Then they will help you set a new goal, such as making a veggie swap (hello zoodles!) every weekday for a full month. Once you’ve made healthier eating an ingrained part of your lifestyle, eating healthy dinners five days a week won’t seem like a huge leap but the next in a series of steps.
Finding Your “Why”
Achieving your goals works better when you examine what you actually want, and articulate it. The problem is, we all have a hard time understanding the core of our needs and desires. Sometimes it can help to talk through your goals with an impartial third party.
In the first week of the Noom program, a Goal Specialist will help you identify your “ultimate why”–your deep-down reason for wanting to change your life. Weight loss is probably a part of it, but usually there’s a deeper personal motivation as well, like being healthy for your kids or being able to do outdoor activities with friends.
Before you even start your personalized Noom program, you and your specialist will together craft a message based on this “why,” and if for any reason you start to fall off the program or lose touch with your coach, they will send this message to you.
Being in the middle of a diet or lifestyle change is uncomfortable and it’s natural to want to stop pushing yourself. But when someone you already have connected with reaches out with a message you crafted yourself, it resonates more deeply than anything generic ever could.
Easy Access, Just For You
Noom’s easy-to-use app will always be right at your fingertips, and its personal food and exercise systems will adapt to the changes in your life. You can move in with a boyfriend, have another child, or get a promotion at work, and Noom will shift with you. This also means you don’t have to wait until you have an easy month or an empty week to get started. No matter what you have going on, you can start your journey today.
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