The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Dieters

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a worldwide best seller. The son of the author went on to write The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. The habits detailed in both books are actions that can be taken in a variety of disciplines to achieve success. In honor of Stephen Covey, I will prove to you that the Seven Habits can be applied to any discipline...including weight loss!!!

A photo of the late, great Stephen Covey
A photo of the late, great Stephen Covey

Here's how you should look at the habits. The first three habits deal with you and how you should get your act together. The next three are what people see when they look at you. They teach you how to get along with other people. The first three come before the second three, because it is important that you deal with yourself before you worry about other people. The seventh habit gives life to all the others. Now you know how to interpret these habits.


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Habit 1. Be proactive - There are two kinds of people, proactive and reactive. Proactive people take responsibility for their lives, while reactive people let people, things and situations affect them and make excuses as a result. A proactive dieter takes control of their diet. They remain accountable and do things to make their diet successful. They keep track of their progress, find support groups, create reward systems and pretty much do whatever it takes to succeed. While proactive people are losing weight, reactive people are making excuses. They don't exercise, because they say it's too cold outside. They don't go to the gym because they're afraid others will stare at how fat they are. They don't get a support group, because they're too insecure. Don't be your own stumbling block, be proactive!

Habit 2. Begin with the end in mind - You have to know where you're going if you want to get there. This habit is about setting goals. Just like with everything else in life, setting goals is important for a successful diet. In Sean Covey's book, he recommends that you write a mission statement. I also recommend you do the same thing. Define how much weight you want to lose. Challenge yourself to run a marathon, do a certain number of push ups or bench press a certain amount of weights. Coming up with goals like these gives you direction and focus. A good rule to abide by when setting goals is to remember to make SMART goals. This means you should make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For more information about creating SMART goals, visit this website.

Habit 3. Put first things first - In the Seven Habits of Highly Effective people, Covey draws a "Time Quadrant" comprised of two main ingredients: urgency and importance.

  • In Quadrant 1, you have things that are Urgent and Important. This is considered the home of The Procrastinator. It leads to burn out and high stress. Stress has been shown to cause you to gain weight, not to mention you won't feel like working out if you're fried from burn out.
  • The second quadrant includes things that are Not Urgent, but Important. Some things that are in this quadrant will be exercise, relationships, projects that are not due immediately and relaxation for example. These are not pressing matters, but they are important for your overall well-being. The problem is, if you procrastinate, these will eventually turn into a Quadrant 1 crisis. An effective person spends their time in this quadrant and is known as The Prioritizer.
  • The 3rdquadrant is full of things that are Not Important, but Urgent. How many people do you know who check their email 5 times a day and answer every text and/or phone call spending hours talking to random friends. What about those people who spread themselves thin with clubs, activities and hobbies that have nothing to do with their work. These things are urgent and may seem important, but they're really not. You often hear someone like this saying "I'm so tired". Making this more relevant to diets, this person would do things that are not helpful to their diet, like going to unhealthy restaurants with friends instead of packing a healthy lunch or not making time to exercise, because they claim to be "too busy". Someone who spends most of their time in this quadrant is known as The Yes-Man, because he's doing these things out of a fear of disappointing anyone.
  • Quadrant 4, is the home of The Slacker. Things in this quadrant are not urgent or important. Some of these things can appear important at first (like relaxing), but too much of it just makes you unproductive. Watching TV all day, spending endless hours on the internet (even if it is to read informative health articles) or gabbing on the phone with your friends about trivial matters makes you a slacker. Balance is required to be effective and is only found in Quadrant 2.

Sample Fitness Progress Chart

Fitness Goals
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Calories points
 
 
 
Exercise mins
 
 
 
Cups of water
 
 
 
Pounds lost
 
 
 
Servings fruits/veg
 
 
 
Points for contacting diet partner
 
 
 
Type of exercise
 
 
 
By filling out a chart such as this one on a daily basis, you can remain in Quadrant 2!

The Seven Habits

  • Be Proactive
  • Begin with the end in Mind
  • Put First things first
  • Think Win-win
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • synergize
  • sharpen the saw

Habit 4. Think win-win - This is the mentality that says that everyone can benefit from your actions. That is in contrast with feeling like you have to get one over on everyone (win-lose), or feeling like the victim (lose-win). Having an everyone-can-win attitude can be very beneficial to your diet. It gives you the confidence to get others involved. You may start to think of ways to benefit others by your diet such as meeting your friends for a nice walk in the park (which allows you to socialize and promotes good health). Or you may want to invest in a healthy cookbook, to brush up on your cooking skills and feed your family healthy yet delicious foods.

Habit 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood - It's very easy to, once you start a weight loss program, make it all about yourself. Many people get caught up in the process and alienate their family and friends saying that once you lose the weight things will go back to normal. However, no man is an island. After you lose the weight, you'll still be yourself and your family and friends will just remind you of that. That is why many therapists and life coaches encourage you to deal with your emotional baggage before or while you lose weight. Learning to listen to others and really hear what they're saying can be crucial to sustaining weight loss.

Habit 6. Synergize - Everybody has different strengths. Your spouse do the dishes while you cook. Your kids could clean their rooms while you do the laundry. Your friends could help you in other ways. Like I said before, no man is an island. An effective dieter (and person) knows how to work with others to achieve more. Sure you could lose weight by yourself, but it's not only beneficial to try to get things done with others, it's also more efficient.

Cartoon poster of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"
Cartoon poster of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" | Source

Jannah Bolin Sings the 7 Habits

Habit 7. Sharpen the saw - Covey describes this habit by saying that you should "Renew yourself regularly." He lists four components that human beings are made up of: body, mind, heart and soul. He quotes an English author, Rumer Godden, saying "Everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual...unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person." Being well-rounded is very important in sustained weight loss.

  • Body (physical) can be sharpened with exercise, eating healthy, sleeping well and relaxing. That seems obvious for a good diet, but the other elements are necessary as well.
  • The mind is kept healthy through reading, learning new skills, writing and just being creative.
  • The emotional dimension is enhanced through healthy relationships, service (like volunteering) and laughter.
  • Spiritual cultivation is achieved through practices such as meditation, journaling, prayer and taking in quality media such as music.

If you exercise your body, mind and spirit, but don't deal with your emotional well-being, you may end up doing a lot of emotional eating and that is definitely not productive. Neglecting any of the other components can equally lead to an imbalance that stunts your progress.

I hope it was helpful for you to look at the 7 Habits from a different perspective. Let me know what you think of my interpretation by commenting below.

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