The answer may surprise you. First, it’s not setting a realistic goal. In fact, it’s not setting a goal of any kind although that can be helpful. Second, it’s not in how you do things although that too is helpful. No, the most powerful way to change a habit is to change our identity around the habit.
This idea comes from James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and I love it. If I continue to think of myself as an overeater or someone who can’t stay away from sugar or someone who struggles with food choices, then it will be much harder for me to change my behavior in the long run. Oh, I’ll still be able to diet and lose weight. But my chances of gaining it back, of going back to the old behaviors that put some or most of that weight on me are high.
Three years ago, I gave up sugar and I changed my identity around that. I don’t eat sugar. I tell anyone who asks. But I didn’t change my identity around being an overeater. So even though I haven’t eaten any sugar in years and I have kept off 50 pounds of weight loss, I’ve put 25 back on through overeating. It’s time for me now to change that part of my identity as well.
What food-related identity could you change?