By: David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.S.N. – Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Institute
Breaking bad nutrition and fitness habits can be complicated. Through constant repetition, they become part of our lives. Furthermore, when you add pleasure to those unhealthy habits –like how good pizza tastes– the pleasure centers of the brain will create the craving to repeat that stimulus.
Following a brief, scientifically referenced discussion of the widely accepted psychological principles of behavior change, several published studies from third-parties and independent from Herbalife Nutrition underpin social support in weight management. These studies were held over varying time periods and with various groups but all suggest that when it comes to weight management, the combination of two approaches is most likely to work for substituting bad habits with healthy ones: behavior change strategies reinforced by social support.
Habits are, essentially, patterns of behavior, so by tackling a pattern, you are working on breaking the habit itself. Scientific literature stresses three specific behavior modifications techniques that work when trying to manage weight:
It’s not about accuracy, but about being aware of what you eat and how much you exercise. Research has consistently demonstrated that self-monitoring is associated with improved treatment outcomes, and patients report that it is one of the most helpful tools in weight management.
2. Stimulus control
Identifying and modifying cues associated with overeating and inactivity can make it easier to maintain healthy habits. Controlling cues associated with overeating or a sedentary lifestyle can be helpful for long-term weight maintenance because exposure to these triggers may cause weight regain.
3. Stress management
Stress is a primary trigger for overeating, Deep breathing, muscle relaxation and meditation are proven stress reduction techniques and can reduce distraction from stressful events which can interfere with the adoption and maintenance of new behaviors.
Social support can make a difference when trying to lead a healthier and happier life. We know that good habits are tough to establish, so having a community around you for support, guidance and encouragement can be critical.
Several independent studies show that higher levels of social support are associated with greater success in achieving and maintaining weight loss. A key finding is that groups do not need to be primarily oriented toward weight management. Peer support can help people to become more self-accepting, develop interpersonal skills or new ways to manage stressful situations, all of which, in turn, might help with weight management objectives as a secondary positive consequence.
It’s also important to note that nowadays, social support comes in different shapes and sizes. It can be exercising with a friend, joining a supervised attendance program, engaging on weekly e-mails with tailored feedback and lessons, or even posting regularly on social media. High online activity, positive votes or likes received per post and engagement in discussions that might provide social support are associated with greater weight loss.
While more research is needed in this area, these initial findings are promising. Whatever the motivation to be in better shape may be, engaging in a weight management journey entails many positive outcomes, such as having more energy to be with your loved ones, better overall health and getting to know like-minded people. That is why this important decision should be undertaken with discipline, joy and any tool for behavior change that can be helpful. Remember: no effort is too small or dismissible.
About Herbalife Nutrition Foundation
Herbalife Nutrition Foundation (HNF) is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation devoted to providing good nutrition and nutrition education to help make the world healthier and happier. HNF currently supports over 130 programs worldwide, promoting children’s healthy growth and development, helping ensure children are provided with good nutrition for a brighter future. In addition to helping children, the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation supports organizations focused on general wellness of communities, such as the American Cancer Society, Save The Children and the American Red Cross. For more information about HNF, and how you can support our programs, visit HerbalifeNutritionFoundation.org.
About Herbalife Nutrition Ltd.
Herbalife Nutrition is a global nutrition company whose purpose is to make the world healthier and happier. The Company has been on a mission for nutrition - changing people's lives with great nutrition products and programs - since 1980. Together with our Herbalife Nutrition independent members, we are committed to providing solutions to global trends of poor nutrition and obesity, a population that wants to age in a healthier manner, skyrocketing public healthcare costs as well as providing an opportunity to meet the needs of the rising number of entrepreneurs. Herbalife Nutrition offers high quality, science-backed products, one-on-one coaching with an Herbalife Nutrition independent member, and a supportive community approach that inspires customers to embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle. The Company’s direct sales model provides individuals with an entrepreneurial business opportunity to be their own boss and work either full or part-time.
Herbalife Nutrition’s targeted nutrition, weight-management, energy and fitness and personal care products are available exclusively to and through its independent members in more than 90 countries.
Herbalife Nutrition supports the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation (HNF) and its more than 130 community-based Casa Herbalife Nutrition programs around the globe that help bring good nutrition to children. The Company and HNF also provide aide to organizations focused on the general wellness of communities such as the American Cancer Society, Save The Children and the American Red Cross.
Herbalife Nutrition is also proud to sponsor more than 190 world-class athletes, teams and events around the globe.
Herbalife Nutrition has approximately 8,300 employees worldwide, and its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: HLF) with net sales of approximately US$4.4 billion in 2017. To learn more, visit Herbalife.com or IAmHerbalife.com.