Posts tagged "WarriorsOfWeight Consulting"

Why Green Tea Can Help With Teen Weight Loss And What’s In It


By Diane Gold

All teen groups have social rituals where they meet at the park, outside the school, on the street corner, in detention, at the local food mart, at after school music and art, sometimes, even in their homes. This custom is for the purpose of gathering and unwinding from their prescribed day at school.

Likewise, every adult society has some type of gathering ritual where the group comes together to sip some sort  of tea or break bread.



Tea Time By Cherie Bender

Whether we are speaking of the sacred healing rituals of South America, the tea ceremonies of Asia, tea time in England and her former colonies or the relaxing meeting among friends at the local restaurant in America; having tea as a group is a common activity.
What if we could apply the socialization part of the tea ceremony with the gathering habit of teens who want to lose weight? What if the next fad were sitting down to have a tea moment?


•    we take time to sit down and stop the mind’s race.
•    we focus on the moment, rather than on past or future events.
•    we have a drink that is pleasant to taste and smell.
•    we supply our body with healthy antioxidants.
•    we can promote weight loss.*


•    Catecholamine, or catechin, a polyphenol in many teas, can increase metabolism, which helps with weight loss. There is research considering whether high polyphenols disrupt mineral absorption or vegetarian sources of iron.
•    Catechin absorbs and blocks bad cholesterol.
•    Antioxidant properties in green tea protect the body from free radicals. According to Green Tea Lovers, a cup of green tea has higher antioxidants than a serving of broccoli, spinach, carrots or strawberries.

Teens At Tea Table•    Caffeine in tea speeds the metabolism. Theanine, another antioxidant present, has a relaxing effect on the body, which counteracts the caffeine. Therefore, the stimulant effect of caffeine is mild or not noticeable to most, yet, it increases metabolism, which is great for weight loss.
•    CCK, or cholecystokinin, a peptide hormone, that, along with aiding in digestion, tells the body the brain that the body has had enough food. Therefore, it suppresses appetite.



Very often, teens who are struggling with weight issues are also not part of a social group. They may like to keep to themselves, may not like the idea of other people’s comments or may not want to put themselves in a position to be around food.

Alone can be wonderful, as long as we look at it that way.  So, here’s the great news about tea drinking.

•    It is a fantastic opportunity to smile with ourselves.
•    It is quick to, easy, fun prepare.
•    It is tasty.
•    It is not the least bit fattening.
•    The experience of making it and drinking it is meditative.
•    It builds focus and increases metabolism. The focus makes us feel great. The enhanced metabolism makes us feel like moving and becoming active.
•    It is expressive, as we begin to choose a favorite tea.
•    The process is invigorating, stress-relieving and is enacted by all socioeconomic levels.
•    Most importantly, the idea of drinking tea builds a sense of pride in being part of this meaningful ritual, that is healthy and reduces appetite. This may be the very reason tea rituals continue to be as popular now as they always were.


Taking time out to have tea can be a great way to start building a positive attitude in a teen who is working on her body weight. The very nature of the tea ritual is to slow down the process of drinking. The very reason for this has to do with the spiritual element to tea drinking, that of contemplating the current moment. The act of drinking tea correlates perfect with the zen tradition, also noted as the yin/yang theory of being in the present, not thinking about what just happened and no thinking about what is about to happen, but being contented in the here and now. Very satisfying!


Here are some action steps to begin this relationship with drinking tea.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: For those who cannot or don’t choose to take caffeinated tea, herbal tea is a great substitute in place of green tea. The properties are different. However, the drinking of the herbal tea, itself, suppresses appetite. And the herbs used in teas have a whole other set of benefits.

1)    After school, set aside 10-15 minutes when you get home (before or after dinner), when you will sit and have tea. If you are in an after-school program, ask the room teacher if tea drinking is allowed in class. You might get the whole class interested. If you are at work, find another time to do the same ritual.
2)    Keep a journal that mentions how you feel about the whole drinking tea process.
3)    Plan this tea time as quiet time for yourself.  Once you are comfortable with the process, you can invite another person in, or not. Come to terms with how upset you will get at criticism
4)    Continue drinking tea as a ceremony/celebration for at least 7 days.
5)    At the end of 7 days, choose whether or not to continue for another 7 days.
6)    Email us at 1 [at] warriorsofweight [dot] com for congratulations and support after 14 days.
7)    Send us a photo of your tea drinking that we can post, and ENJOY!


1)    Show the action steps to your daughter.
2)    If she decides to make her own tea, respect her space.
3)    If she does not decide to make her own tea, clear the table yourself in preparation.
4)    Ask your daughter to help you make tea.
5)    If this works, drink tea in a quiet atmosphere with no pressure from you to ask about your daughter’s day, life, feelings, weight. Make this time exceptional.
6)    If your daughter says no, ask her if she would make tea for you.
7)    Be gracious and accepting of the tea with no criticism.
8)    Offer for her to sit down with you. If this doesn’t work, just emulate the action steps for daughters and enjoy drinking tea.
9)    Repeat the process so your daughter sees that it is not just a 1-day activity.
10)  Ask her to join you, from time to time.
11)   Enjoy the tea drinking.

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Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert and a dedicated mom.
She always looks for old traditions that apply to modern day situations. Diane says,

“The art of tea preparation and drinking could be the very custom that is missing from our busy lives. Think of all the stress it would relieve if it were part of everyone’s day. As it is, people are so stressed out, they ritually drink alcohol, teens and adults. What if we standardly drank tea? I am absolutely adding it to my day. And you?”

For help, check out 1-Step Consulting.

Teen Weight Gain And Sugary Drinks: A Closer Look


By Diane Gold

A recent headline in weight studies was

Program To Reduce Teen Intake Of Sugary Drinks Has Promise

Sugary DrinksA study, published on Sept. 22, 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at reducing the sugary drinks that teens drank for a year, using 224 teens. The study delivered non-caloric drinks to the homes of one-half of this teen group for a year, supplied coaching calls to parents, check-in visits and messaging with the participants. The other half just drank their sugary drinks, as usual.

The study resulted in the group given non-caloric drinks and privy to coaching services, weighed, on average, 4 pounds less than the control group, after one year.Scale With Dice

When we do studies, in order to validate them, we have to break down the parameters to make sure our measurements don’t overlap other factors. It’s very tricky to do. In this study, calories were measured but not what types of food groups they came from, coaching for parents existed with no measure of what parents believed at the onset or what they were economically able to comply with in terms of no sugary drinks in the house at the end of the study, and periodic messaging existed for participants but no mention of what it accomplished. The limitations in this study are common because we are so complex as human beings and every new stipulation we use costs more time which is money.

BackhoeTake away something without replacing it with something else in our lives and a gaping hole exists. To remove sugary drinks, we need to put something else there that will offer a reward of some kind. Otherwise, the emptiness becomes very uncomfortable.

Picture what happens when a hole is dug for a swimming pool but the pool never gets built. The big, gaping hole is damaging to the peace of mind of the yard, symbolic of the removal of our friend, the sugary drink, and can be painful. Pain causes old behavior.

PoolHow much nicer it is when the hole is filled with something meaningful, like water for a refreshing swim, symbolic of water to drink.



Here are some facts to think about.


Let’s start with the surprising fact that “sugar intake from sugar-sweetened beverages alone, which are the largest single caloric food source in the United States, approaches 15% of the daily caloric intake … in several population groups” (Sonia Caprio, MD cites black and Mexican boys in her editorial, New England Journal Of Medicine online, quoting YC Wang in Pediatrics, 2008, and Nhanes III & Nhanes in Journal of Food Composition & Analysis, 2004).

When we are young, we require constant energy replenishment. In our consumeristic society, we are sold on the benefis of sugary drinks are from a very young age. What if we figured out a financially viable way to spend as much advertising capital on the merits of water or if we spent as much on packaging eye-appealing, reusable, collapsible water bottles as on sugary drinks? How would this affect our drinking habits and teen weight gain?


1)    Is it the sugar in liquid form that causes weight gain due to its ease of absorption?


Another study in the New England Journal Of Medicine found that cutting out soda from
teens’ diets resulted in a more dramatic weight loss than was shown with any other food.

Teen Drinking Soda2)    Are we craving drinking sweet liquid because we enjoy the way it feels, tastes or looks?

3)    Are we subliminally seduced to sugary drinks because we have been programmed to like them?

4)    Did the coached half of the 224 study participants crave the human interaction of ongoing messaging and check-in visits and that’s why they gained 4 pounds less?


Does the will to be accountable to someone else drive us to succeed? What if we could get an accountability partner for free? Would we do it?

There’s a new bulletin board at where you can post a need and get a partner.


What if we just crave the human contact from a mentor or coach? How do we translate that into getting that human interaction from our friends, our parents, ourselves?

NOTE: The mission of is to offer techniques and tools so that each of us can be independent enough to have resolve in ourselves and have enough strength to put our hands out to others.


5)    Did the coaching with parents cause the attitude change in the teens? Did this coaching cause superficial changes in the parents for that year alone?

We do know that, after the study year was over, during the follow up year, for the most part, parents went back to buying sugary drinks for the home, and teens went back to drinking sugary drinks at school or on their way home from school.

Clear Water BottleECONOMICS

6)    Is the consumption of sugary drinks caused by the need for teenage fuel and the inability to afford designer drinks that are healthier? Is this same economic factor why teens don’t buy crystal clear water for snack?

Would the answers to these questions shed a different light on the results of this study or any study?


Dr. David Ludwig, senior author of the teen weight gain study, said of the fact that the teens gained weight after the study year and went back to drinking sugary drinks in the follow up year, “Permanent environmental changes are necessary for permanent weight loss.” True, if there were no sugary drinks in the school and no commercial propaganda on visual devices from an early age, there would be change.

I acknowledge Dr. Ludwig’s statement. If we remove sugary drinks from schools and eateries and ads, the next generation will be influenced correctly from the start. I would still like to add “Permanent mindset change is necessary for permanent weight loss.”

In 1-Step Consulting, we teach the impermanence of environmental changes as a whole. Of course, should the family of teens have maintained no sugary drinks in the house from the time the study finished, the teens would have had a big head start on caloric intake from sugary drinks. However, if there is no mindset change that includes
new drinking habits for health, as soon as the teen steps out of the protected environment that caused the change, the old habit will come back.


What is not emphasized from day 1 in any weight loss programs
I have seen is this very important factor: pick and learn a new behavior to replace the old. Just going through the motions of acting out a new habit is not enough. Each of us
must methodically place the new behavior in place so that we have something to do instead of our old behavior and nurture it.Adding Not Taking Away

Take my friend, T., who weighed in excess of 300 pounds. He decided he would have no food in his house for a full 3-month period. He had all his meals delivered, and he lost over 100 pounds. Then, he went back to keeping food in the house, going out to his precious restaurants, and he gained the weight right back again.

What didn’t he do?

He changed his environment, but he didn’t change his mind.
He reverted to his old environment, but his mindset hadn’t changed.

Result: weight regain.


The most important thing, whether it comes out of research, need, experimentation, embarking on a new program is the result. It’s about changing the mind in the desired direction. In order for the program to work well, the set up is very important.

Adding ValueWhen a program talks about removing a substance or craving instead of adding pleasure with something new and awesome, whether drugs or sugary drinks, the program is talking about deprivation and pain instead of comfort and gratification.  Addition instead of subtraction calms and nourish the mind; positive vs. negative speech conjures happy images.  I am not saying to deny the goal or not to talk about it; but it’s more pleasurable to concentrate on adding than taking away. So why not use that tiny advantage!

Why do we have such a high recidivism (relapse) rate in rehab programs? The older models believe in strengthening through insult and confrontation or threat. The newer models cater to motivation, listening and empathy.

And what about the many programs that base their success on changing the environment? Such as:

Don’t hang out with those friends.
Don’t stop at the arcade/mall on the way home.
We’ll move to another city.
No more sugary drink ads.
No more sugary drinks allowed in school.

Although the removal of negative influences can be an immediate fix, the only way to create new behavior is to change the mind. Scientifically, it is known that once we learn a habit, it is always in the background. However, we can choose a new habit and stack the old habit on the shelf. The only way to do this is to make the new mind the primary focus of any technique.

It is said that drinking sugary drinks is not addicting. What this means is that the body does not have a dependence on them. Because of this, a little mind adjustment can make the change, improve health and slow down teen weight gain from sugary drinks.


1)    Get a new glass just for this. (If money prevents, draw a design on your favorite glass you already have.)
2)    Fill the glass 1 quarter of the way with water.
3)    Put 2 ice cubes in it, if possible.
4)    Slush the ice cubes around in the water to spread the cold.
5)    Drink the water.
6)    Repeat this 2 more times in the day.
7)    Once you have accomplished this for 1 whole week every day, increase the water volume to 1 half the glass and repeat steps 3) to 6).
8)    Once you have accomplished this for 1 whole week every day, increase to 6 times a day total or 1 whole glass of water 3 X.
9)    Enjoy the water.

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If you need a hand, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Help is right here at .


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Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert and a dedicated mom.
She is confident that taking a small step now will change history. Diane says,

“Saying, “I can’t do anything; I don’t have money or power,” is easier than saying, “I can make a difference.” Even if we believe our small action will benefit no more than 1 person, even if it is ourselves, alone; take that action. Move ahead with that one step. If I take a step, then you take a similar step, then she takes a similar step; a movement is created. Let’s begin our movement with 1 step. ”

For help, check out 1-Step Consulting.

The Habit Cycle: Cue-Action-Reward-Cue-ReplacedAction-Reward


By Diane Gold

In the past several weeks, I’ve been talking about and looking at habits, reading about them, examining my own. There are so many different factors, but there seems to be one common cycle.

The Habit Cycle


We get a CUE.

It can be visual such as the photo of an apple pie to a dessert hound.

It can be olfactory where we walk into a bar, smell a whole array of alcohol tonics and can’t resist them.

There are so many cues that result in habitual action. Anything can set off someone who gambles to excess to create gambling by saying,

“I’ll bet you $10 that it won’t rain today.”


I was reading about a nail biter and how examining the cue and looking at the reward might help with the habit of biting. Then I realized that I bite my nails, not as much as I used to. But I do, from time to time. I have still not identified the cue, that is, what signals me to execute my nail behavior; but it has something to do with working. As I begin to concentrate on work, I am driven to start to bring my hands to my mouth. I have been able not to bite my nails because I am enjoying the control of not biting, because I examined the behavior and because I was rather surprised that I hadn’t counted this behavior in my list of negative habits.

The REWARD for this nail biting was that I like the feel of biting. Or maybe it is a soothing behavior. I am not sure yet. My NEW REWARD, though, is laughing at myself because I am controlling this behavior. The reason I can do this is because I have lots of experience with changing habits. And I have learned to replace the bad ones with good ones. They are all still there, just waiting for the right cue.


Take a look at what you do that is in excess and that you want to change. Look for the cue that starts your craving feeling. Look at the reward that makes you feel euphoric. Tell someone about your self-examination, and say that you BELIEVE IN YOURSELF and commit to successfully being a different way – out loud. Go do the different behavior every time you get the cue. Even if you can’t figure out the exact cue, which I can’t with the nails, whenever you find yourself craving, keep looking at it as you do your new activity.

The explanation will show up. While you’re looking, though, doing what’s new will replace the trigger activity and become the new habit.

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I am still reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power Of Habit. He mentions all the research about the fact that a habit doesn’t go away when we replace it. It’s easy to see this when people go back to old habits under pressure or lost focus. Have you experienced this?

If you can’t imagine addiction or being out of control with some habit, I am going to describe an allergic, physiological behavior to make a point about being out of control.

Imagine getting poison ivy with its toxic oil. The urushiol oil binds to the under layer of skin and stays there for 2 to 4 weeks. It affects 80% of people who come into contact with it.

After getting poison ivy many times in New York, I thought I was free of it when I moved to Florida. Ha! Little did I know that the precious mango tree that hung over the fence was loaded with the very same toxin. Cashew and pistachio, too, but I haven’t come into contact with those.

So we get a cue. The itch. We take action: we scratch and scratch. This behavior is not addiction, but it demonstrates how we can be out of control and the driver is similar. It is also not an antisocial behavior, so we are not stigmatized if we scratch. Everybody does it, across the social, ethnic and self-control lines. It illustrates being driven in ways very hard to control.

When I come into contact with the air that is near the powerful poison ivy plant, or if I touch the plant by accident, I break out into a rash and am doomed for a few weeks. I came up with a strategy for not scratching which is parallel to my strategy for controlling self-destructive habits. First, there will be a small little itch. When I get an itch on the wide part of my arms or my hands or feet; this is a cue for me to examine the area to see whether I have exposed myself to urushiol. It used to be the cue to scratch, but I know the feeling so well that I control it and determine whether it is the dreaded poison.

Bandaged LeafFor years, I have been covering the dermatitis rash with bandages. This was for 2 reasons: 1) to keep the rash from spreading when the blisters broke and 2) to keep me from scratching it.

I just found out tonight that covering the area protected it from infection and scratching only, but that we can’t spread the rash on our own bodies, are not contagious once we are rashing and the blisters contain our own immune response to the oil and not the oil, itself.

So the bandages themselves created a new cue for me, even though I had them on for the wrong reason. Every time I touched the bandage, I remembered not to itch. I replaced my bad habit with another cue (the bandage) which led me to a good habit , not scratching. The reward? Not hurting myself with scratching.


Admitting there is a cue is really important, even if you are still in the dark about it, as I am about the nails. But taking the time to examine behavior with no defense is a good thing. Defense only prolongs the bad habit. Examining it starts a new cycle with a new behavior.

Confident WomanThe belief part of the equation comes from inside. We need to believe in ourselves to get the job done because we must be strong enough to remember our self-examination. Statistics say this is done in a group, even if it is a group of 2.


So, whether you call someone a sponsor, an accountability partner, a friend, a mentor, a coach or a consultant; go tell someone about what you are self-examining and what direction you want to take with your habit.

Almost anyone will listen and be interested. So don’t use having no one to talk with as an excuse. Find an ear and talk about your behavior out loud. Whether it’s Weight Watchers’ or Overeater’s Anonymous, or just that one other person, get your story written by telling someone today.

See your cue. Talk about your cue. Talk about what it makes you want to do. Talk about the reward when you follow your old pattern. And pick a new activity for the old cue that brings the same or similar reward.

Good luck to all of us!

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Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert and a dedicated mom.
She is fascinated by the habit process. These are such strong pathways that are branded into us, difficult to change, and requiring our focus. Diane says,

“We are very powerful, we humans. We have the ability to set and reach tremendous goals. These are achieved, for the most part, by will power. When we climb a mountain, it is more with our mind than our body. Just the same, when we change a part of ourselves, we are, in essence, climbing the mountain of our own strength. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Keep going for one more minute. That minute will make the change. ”

For help, check out Simple Secret Method Consulting.

Weight Loss For Teen Girls: 5 Quick Appetite Tips


By Diane Gold

Vending MachineSo you ‘re in school, you’ve had a pretty calm day, nobody teased you yet and you’re getting kind of hungry. You know you can step out and go to the bathroom and pass the snack machine, unless you’re in one of those states that has reduced snack machines in favor of salad bars. (I’m not knocking this; I’m for it since studies are showing that curbing the sugar foods in vending machines is helping a lot of girls with weight. It’s also teaching  a better way of snacking.)

So, you know there’s some greasy food or sugary food in the vending machine that will hold you over, and you’re really hungry. You just can’t wait snack until you go home, so what can you do?


Do you remember how great it was to drink out of the hose when you were little? I’m not suggesting this now, but water is the answer. A glass of water is known to reduce your appetite, and it fills you up at the same time.

When you’re hungry, it’s no fun to drink water because then you won’t really want to think about the greasy, sugary, oily foods. Why? Because you will be full, your hunger hormones will have stopped raging and you will be balanced.

But the habit of answering the call of that midday hunger is pretty deep in you.
What’s great about water is that there are drinking fountains in most schools. So, even if they are not filtered, which many of them are, if the water in your area is clean enough to drink right out of the faucet, it’s very much available.


Put an empty bottle in your bag so you can keep filling it up and have all day at your seat. And to save on manufacturing costs, why not keep the bottle and use it over and over. Or get a fancy shmancy bottle that does the same job. Either way, having water at your disposable is a lifesaver.


The next tip is kind of sneaky. It requires having a full bottle of water in each class. I know it’s a pain to drink because then you might have to go to the bathroom. I never liked to drink water at night so that I didn’t have to get up in the middle. But that was flawed thinking. The body needs it.


Drink, at least, 8 ounces of water – that might be half your bottle – 30 minutes before it’s time to eat or snack.  That way, the water will make it easier for you to stretch out the time, and it will help to balance out your raging appetite. If 8 ounces doesn’t do it, try 16 ounces. 16 ounces can’t really hurt your body. It can make you full and make it easy to control your appetite. It’s also nothing anyone can tease you over. It’s always good to hydrate the body, so that’s what you are doing. Plus you will be more alert in class, even if you’re just sitting there texting in class or writing notes.


Tip 3 has to do with, yes, you guessed it, water.


When you are totally hungry, go wash your face, not drinking it, using it. Of course, not every teacher will allow you to leave the room when you want. But, if you can’t go to the bathroom to wash your face, you also can’t go to the vending machine.

Make sure to wash your face immediately after class, if you get the chance. It will slow your desire to race to the vending machine or corner store. While you are washing your face to slow down the hunger chemicals, drink a glass of water. It absolutely changes how you feel. Do it.


The 4th tip has to do with what you bring from home. If you’re having trouble with weight, it’s a good idea to pre-pay for your lunch so that you can’t get too much or the wrong food.

This would mean that you would make your lunch at home, if you’re not on a meal plan.

This reminds me of my coconut milk ice cream activity. If I buy a pint, I will finish it by the end of the day. I won’t carefully designate separate dessert portions. So I rarely allow myself to bring it into the house. Because, not only will I eat the whole container’s worth, but I will get another container for the next 3 days in a row, until I will myself to stop through my super, duper Secret Consulting Method.

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Dollar BillfoldACTION STEP

Leave your money home. Pre-pay for lunch or ask the dietician (through the school nurse) to plan your meals for you and only give you no choice, no matter what you ask for. You should have this discussion in private so that it is not a source of embarrassment.
Who knows? You might start a trend where everyone starts to ask for healthy food.

The last tip is to be consistent. It’s easy to take a tip and do it once. The way it makes an impact and sustains itself is if it continues to happen. It requires strong mindset which, by the way, you have because struggles make us strong willed. Anyone who can overeat with vigor, has learned a strong habit and way to act. The eating food habit can be changed to a different behavior with the strength the habit has created.


Follow through on tips 1 through 4 and write down how often the first week. Then, it should be a more natural process.


Good luck on this journey. Please don’t give up if you continue to eat in ways that make you gain weight. Be patient, self-loving and consistent. Enjoy the small changes that will certainly come about. When you implement these tips, you will see how easy and effective they are.


Please leave a comment and LIKE us.


Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert and a dedicated mom.
She is very interested in helping teens. They are so vibrant and are at a crucial age with so many new possibilities sprouting in front of them. Diane says,

“It’s the small, seemingly unimportant little changes that matter. These miniscule actions make us strong and confident. They also begin to replace our other behaviors. Even if you pick 1 tip and use it, it will serve you well. Because it will be a painless process of forming a new habit, that will lead you to wherever you would like.”

For help, check out Simple Secret Method Consulting.

Anatomy Of A Habit: 10 Excuses That No Longer Work. Or Do They?


By Diane Gold

A habit is a fascinating little “acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it becomes almost involuntary,” according to the dictionary from (owned by InterActive Corp., new owner of, bought from The New York Times last week. Understanding the credentials of the dictionary I am using somewhat helps me evaluate the definition I am putting to print).

Since this definition of “habit” correlates well with Charles Duhigg’s The Power Of Habit, which I am reading, I am satisfied that it is a good representation of what a habit is.

GorillaSince I am about to speak on animal experiments, let me say that I applaud any research that does not involve the use of animals (gorillas already have rights) , that any animal should have the right to live a leisurely life in a posh facility as a reward if s/he has donated her time to human science;
computer simulation or sculpture as education should be used instead of working with animals; and any facility that uses animals should have a mandatory residence with services and staff for aged-out animals that has been paid for up front in case the facility loses funding. Now on with the article.

Mouse mazeIn Charles Duhigg’s book, cited above, he talks about experiments done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, where they studied habits using mice. They gave the mice a cue  – which is the first of the three-part make-up of a habit – and, thus, created a habit. When the mice had learned to successfully respond to the cue, in this case, pull a lever, they were rewarded with food. This went on until it was quite routine for the cue, the action (the second part in the habit cycle) and the reward (the 3rd piece of the cycle).

Phase 2 in the study involved poisoning the food so that the mice got sick upon eating it. The floor that led to the food was also electrified, causing a shock to the mice if they walked on it. They stopped going for the food and walking on the floor. Until they were shown their cue again. Then, automatically, because the habit was so ingrained in them, they walked on the floor, got shocked, ate the poisoned food and vomited.

This behavior is so common in humans, and we now know it is the pathways in our brain that get embedded with habits, not all the environmental stuff we always blame. When we feel the rise of a particular hormone in our bodies, this is our cue. We begin craving whatever it is we have trained ourselves to crave. We have two choices. Go get the reward we have trained ourselves to get, or go do something that will replace the old reward. Yes, we can create new habits, but we have to begin doing just that.

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Duhigg, in his The Power of Habit writes an accounting of Wolfram Schultz, a neuroscience professor who worked with macaques. Using the same cue, acquired action, reward system; Schultz taught Julio, an 8-pound macaque, to touch a lever when he saw a particular cue.

MacaqueFor this action, he would get a reward of juice. After repeating this cycle – cue, acquired action (Duhigg calls this “routine”), reward – touching the lever to get his reward became an ingrained habit.

Brainwaves From A New HabitSchultz had had an electrode placed in Julio’s brain to read his neurological activity. It showed that Julio would get excited or happy when he got his reward. More activity at reward time in this simulation.

Brainwaves After A HabitAs Julio’s habit became stronger, from more time doing the same behavior, his neurological activity changed.  The spike in activity came from anticipating his reward. So the cue became the trigger. The excitement that used to come from the reward was now coming when he saw the cue (in this case, it was visual). Ah, primates! How alike we all are.

This sounds like all of us who have walked through fire to satisfy our habits, whether candy, drugs, bread, gambling, being late, staying lethargic, a relationship, a lifestyle. Of course, everyone is different. And changing a behavior is different in each of us. And there are so many factors involved as there are chemical levels in our body, tendencies in our heredity, environmental cues that are habits we are not aware of, and more.

There are so many questions that arise from hearing about habits. Why does one of two twins raised in the same household have a more difficult time changing a habit than her twin? So many reasons.


Let’s talk about excuses. Many of us come up with reasons why we are habitual. How true can these be if our neurons change automatically with repetition? Does that mean that all the following excuses have to be thrown out?

1)    I drink because my mother was mean to me.
2)    I overeat because I was an only child.
3)    I gamble because we were poor.
4)    I have excessive behavior because I was sent away to boarding school.
5)    I compulsively shop because they fed us junk food in school.
6)    I hoard things in my house because my friends didn’t like me.
7)    I overmedicate because my grand aunt did.
8)    I steal clothing all the time because I was abused.
9)    I will always be late because we ate fast food at home every night.
10)  I have an excuse because my parents weren’t ever home when I came home from school.

We all have used an excuse for our behavior. Most of us have, anyway. Can an adult habit be attributed to a childhood experience? Probably yes, but proclaiming it is not going to change the habit.


Weight Of A HabitLet’s talk about Julio, the macaque, again. He had a strong habit. When the professor took away his reward or reduced the sugar content in his juice, he would become angry or depressed. He was hard to distract even when he was given the opportunity to go out of the experiment area and socialize with others because he was busy having an urge for what had been taken away. He continued to stay near his computer monitor which had given him the visual cue, continued to press the lever that had previously given him his reward, craving his reward.

Other macaques who had gone through the same sequence of creating the habit but who did not reinforce it over and over again through a long period of time were easily distracted and broke the habit immediately. When given the chance to go out and socialize, they were just as happy to do that as to push a lever and get juice.


The only way to make a change is to do it consciously. According to Duhigg’s Change A Habit chart, when we feel the cue, we need to choose a different reward. That’s why deprivation is so hard. That’s replacing something with nothing. That doesn’t usually do it. Replacing what we used to do with something new like reaching out, talking, dancing, doing martial arts, meditation, running, swimming, eating salad, drinking water, just might do it. We are so different, but we are so much the same.

Knowing that all our excuses are not the real reason we crave shouldn’t matter. Our experiences, wrapped up in these excuses, certainly have an impact on the habits we have formed. If we are too sad to go to school, we never get to college because we don’t have a high school diploma. If we were not taught about nutrition, we probably have hugely unhealthy habits. This lack of food education does not create the craving, itself, but because of the lack of education, we may have created certain pathways in eating habits we may need to change.


There’s no way around it. No matter why we have a habit, if it’s time to change it, DO IT NOW. The sooner we start, the sooner we change.


If you just want to talk about it, we can help at WarriorsofWeight Consulting. We are ready, willing, experienced. Are you?



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Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert and a dedicated mom.
The more she reads and talks to people, the more she sees how much we are the same. Diane says,

“Today is the day we can change one habit. It won’t happen overnight, and it will take conscious effort. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It just has to be consistent. Easy and consistent. That’s it. Pick a habit, and plan a new move in advance. That way, the next time that physical trigger (the cue) starts the habit cycle, we can instantly start forming our new habit.”

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