My plan to lose weight and look lean again

Recently, I went on my first business trip. I spent a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, meeting clients and enjoying some time off.

On the night before my flight home, I was horrified to notice a prominent food baby that was visible when I wore my favourite t-shirt. It wasn’t there 6 days ago when I left home.

It’s a testament of how good Malaysian food is. It is also most alarming.

Weight loss and getting in shape isn’t easy for most people.

Eating less and exercising more is the standard advice that everyone gives but nobody does.

“There’s got to be an easy and effective way,” I thought in desperation, as I watched planes taking off in the airport.

Looking back at what I learned about behavioural change, I realised that what I learned in neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, and Carl Richards’ The Behaviour Gap pointed to a common and specific strategy:

‏‏‎ ‎

Have a single, clear instruction that tells you what to do that excludes all other possibilities and ambiguities.

‏‏‎ ‎

“Eat less” is vague, and so is “exercise more.”

While I have not figured out my plan relating to exercising, here is my plan for dieting: “I will only drink water. No other drinks. Just water.”

‏‏‎ ‎

What’s the logic behind this?

‏‏‎ ‎

Clear instructions make life easier. Making a list of drinks to avoid makes it difficult for ourselves because we will first have to think of the item, then sort out if we should drink it or not.

“Would you like coffee or tea?” makes you wonder if a beverage would affect your diet. However, if we have a specific rule “I only drink water,” the answer is simple. The rule is the answer. This takes away the energy required to decide on your choice of drink in any occasion.

‏‏‎ ‎

Stick to your decisions

We’re capable of rational decision making but emotions often cause us to stray from the best options especially when the situation changes.

Falling or rising prices often cause investors to buy or sell prematurely because of fear or greed. Changing course is often a bad idea when influenced by strong emotions.

So if you’re attempting to get a specific result, give yourself a time range before assessing the results and making changes to your plan.

In my case, would I only drink water for the rest of my life? No. That would be tragic. However, I could commit to drinking water only from my birthday until 31 December 2022 so that I can see if this strategy works or not.

‏‏‎ ‎

In summary

  1. Create a rule, or instruction, that tells you explicitly what to do, that excludes any other possibilities.
  2. Give yourself a specific start and end date so that you do not have to wonder if this is a good choice. Give yourself enough time for your chosen strategy to run its course before evaluating its effectiveness.

I find that 90 days is a suitable amount of time to test a hypothesis. The 90 days rule has helped me quit coffee and tea, get started writing blog posts and newsletters, and helped me become an illustrator.

‏‏‎ ‎

Are you struggling with any behavioural changes? Feel free to let me know and perhaps we can discuss a suitable plan for you.

‏‏‎ ‎

Announcement: Learn to illustrate impactful ideas and be a better communicator. No art or design background needed. No expensive software or devices needed.

Course launches in Nov / Dec 2022. Special pre-order price is available now.

Check out the Impactful Illustrator course here.

If you’re totally new, you’ll the fundamentals within 1 hour. You’ll get from 0 to 1. Everything else in the course will help get you from 1 to 10 0.

Feel free to reply if you have any questions. I’ll answer all emails :)



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jun Han Chin

I write and illustrate ideas around personal development so that you can be 3x more awesome | |