In mid-December I was contacted by the folks at Habit Changer, asking if I’d take one of their 42-day programs for a complimentary test spin (the only compensation offered or received) and then blog about it–whether my “experience was positive or not.” That seemed fair enough to me!
Habit Changer is a web-based application that uses the concepts of cognitive behavior therapy and (get ready for a new vocabulary word) neuroplasticity to help participants recognize current beliefs and behaviors and replace them with a different perspective.If you’re like me, you may be unfamiliar with the term, neuroplasticity (please tell me I’m not the only one), but you’re not unfamiliar with the tenets of it. At its most basic level, it’s the brain’s ability to “re-wire” itself, based on the input it’s receiving. Many of us have been doing that for years, but on the opposite side of the field: negative messages resulting in unhealthy behaviors. The old “garbage in, garbage out” dynamic, or as I blogged about some time ago, seeing what we believe. Habit Changer uses a system of positive messages and activities to help users jump-start a reversal of that negative pattern.
The four most popular programs offered are Losing Weight, Stop Stressing, Money & You, and Feeding Your Kids, but there are several other programs offered as well. Most cost $19.95 (last time I checked), but the Feeding Your Kids program [No longer offered] is F-R-E-E for parents.
I chose Losing Weight 2 for my test drive. It’s designed for those who are at goal weight or who have been at goal weight at least once, and it’s supposed to make the process of staying at goal weight easier. I’m all for that!
Each morning I receive a Habit Changer “lesson” on a specific topic, along with a daily challenge. Later in the day, I receive a reinforcing email reminder. I also opted to receive a text message reminder. And as if that’s not enough, the system allows for custom messaging, a way of sending yourself reminders in the language that you know will keep you on track. My custom message is simple: What have you done today? ( I have a post-it note on my monitor that asks the same question.) If I get off track or am tempted to blow off planned exercise, these few words should get my thoughts redirected. Or at least, questioned.
I’m on day 36 of the 42-day program, and while many of the topics are things I already know and do, each concept was something I had to learn over the past three years. It would’ve been nice to have this tool to guide my progress. And some topics are nice little reminders or wake-up calls for things I could spend a little time on. Take today, for example.
The Day 36 message was titled “Slim” and really hit home for me. It encouraged me to stop thinking of myself as someone who will always think of myself as having a weight problem and to focus on thinking of myself as “slim.” They suggested these two actions:
* If you have reached or approached your target weight, tell yourself out loud at least once some variant of “I am slim”.
* At the same time, visualize how the lines of your body now fit well with what your body was designed to be. Visualize yourself in your mind and think, That’s about what it’s supposed to be. I am a slim person. And I always will be. That reality is now me.
They ended the daily message with this perspective reminder:
If you are thinking: I’m afraid to promise myself that I’ll always be slim. What if I fail, and my weight climbs again?
Try this instead: If I have reached my goal weight at least once, and I am this far into the program, I already know enough that minor setbacks won’t change my long-term outcome.
I have no idea how Habit Changer knew that those fears creep into my thinking from time to time, but I’ve spent today reminding myself frequently that “I am fit” and “I am in control”. And just as I was ordering my lunch today, I received a text message on my phone that said: “Now that you know you are in control, doesn’t it feel good?” Since I had ordered a turkey sandwich, I was able to give myself a mental backpack and affirm that yes, control does feel pretty darned good.
And you can rest assured that the timing of today’s message recap will arrive about the same time as my evening snack. I can’t ever catch a break.
As I near the end of this particular program, I can honestly say that I haven’t seen a single negative about it. The Habit Changer program is well-organized, with easy-to-follow concepts that are, in my opinion, all concepts crucial to building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The application is easy to use and adapt to personal needs. I would have considered it money well spent if I had purchased the program. (Remember: I don’t get paid to say that.)
And the best news is that there’s no high fructose corn syrup!
As I was typing my custom email message above, I couldn’t help but wonder what would YOU choose for your custom message? What words would help you maintain your healthy focus or get you turned around again on those days when LIFE happens?