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Your Daily Routines

Did you know…. our daily routines can make us or break us. I discovered just how important my routines are recently when I traveled to Arizona on a family emergency and my brain felt a bit lost! Join us on today's podcast, where Marchelle and I discuss the importance of a purposeful daily routine in maintaining our health and longevity.

Episode Highlights:

8:29 You can retrain your brain to develop new habits at any time.

10:35 What's the cue, what's the routine, and what's the reward at the end. Sometimes all it takes is removing the cue.

17:54 A strong reason, a good argument for why you want to understand what (your habits) are and how they work. How to design them so that you can be the architect of your habits, and not the victims of them.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:00):
You are listening to the Keep The Weight Off podcast with Dr. Angela, episode number 59.

Introduction (00:07):
Welcome to The Keep The Weight Off podcast, where we bust all the dieting myths and discover not just how to lose weight, but more importantly, how to keep it off. We go way beyond the food and we use science and psychology to give you strategies that work. And now your host, Dr. Angela Zechmann.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:27):
So, Hey everyone. And welcome to this week's podcast. Hey, Marchelle. How are things with you today?

Marchelle (00:34):
They're okay. I'm struggling a little bit with allergies, cuz there's a lot of pollen in the air…

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:39):

Marchelle (00:39):
…Where I live and it's getting it's all over my car. Oh, I am really sensitive to pollen. So my, my voice sounds a little weird.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:51):
That's why

Marchelle (00:52):
I'm struggling with that. So are you doing Angela?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:55):
I'm doing okay. Lot going on and we'll talk about that. Yeah. All right. All right. So I had a real, really interesting week and that, and the week, this week, this last week has really emphasized to me the power of habits. And I wanted to talk about that today. And in the Empowered Weight Loss membership, our, we are talking about habits. March is habit month, and we've been discussing the habit loop, which I'm gonna talk to you about. And learning how to apply it so that we can set ourselves up for success with lasting weight loss, by working on our routines and our habits.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (01:36):
But here's what happened to me last week. My beloved aunt Sally, who turned 90 in December, had a stroke. Now she's just a cute little thing. She probably weighs 90 pounds. She's my mother's sister. And everybody at the hospital loves her.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (01:57):
She had a stroke though, and she's weak on the left side. She's in a rehab hospital and she's working diligently every day to recover as much function as possible. Now she was planning to move to Minnesota in mid-March right, which is right about now. But and she had sold her house and we were planning to go down and help her move. Well, now that she's had the stroke, she could do nothing. So we went down early and stayed in her house in Arizona and packed everything up for her. And my partner, Siggy,, single handedly, loaded 5,000 pounds of her belongings onto a pod while I did all the sorting and packing. So it was just all ….

Marchelle (02:51):
Yeah Siggy.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:53):
I know, go Siggy. It was just a lot of work to do. And I was completely out of my normal routine and I mean completely out of my normal routine. So usually I meditate and I work out every morning. I did get in a few meditations but there was no working out. I usually plan and I eat regular meals. None of that happened. I was just grabbing ham and cheese and nuts and protein bars whenever I got hungry. And so I wanted to talk about this, how our brain works with habits, the there's, there's something called the habit cycle and there's several different pieces of the habit cycle.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:40):
The first part of the habit cycle is the cue. So a cue can be something that we see. It could be a certain time of day. It could be a certain activity that we're already engaged in something like that.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:55):
So there's the cue. The next part of the habit cycle is the routine. And the routine can be a series of like little minute movements. Think about when you're driving your car, all the little movements, or maybe you're taking a shower or you're brushing your teeth. You're not really paying any attention at all. When you get into a car and turn on the ignition and put the car in reverse and back outta your parking spot, it's all automatic. You just do it automatically under the surface of your conscious awareness. That's how the brain saves energy. It automates any kind of routine task. The last part of the habit cycle is the, for example, getting to your destination. Or, after your shower, you're feeling clean, or having a clean mouth after brushing your teeth. There's a reward. So this is how our brains work. It's how we evolve to save as much energy as possible.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (05:00):
We put as much of our routines on autopilot so we don't have to pay attention to every little piece of information and we can keep our eye out for danger. Right. Does that make sense? Yes. So I have all these routines on autopilot at home, waking up, brushing my teeth, getting my coffee, meditating, working out, showering, eating breakfast, but staying at my aunt Sally's there were none of the usual cues. It was so interesting. My brain was in a quandary. Nothing was where it usually is. And the fact that we were packing things and changing the environment constantly just confused my brain even more. So no cues means no instructions to my brain to go into the habit routine. So I spent the entire week working hard, both physically, but more importantly, mentally because it took so much extra mental energy to be constantly adapting like that. Does that make sense?

Marchelle (06:07):
Yeah, that definitely makes sense. It kind of reminds me of when we had this remodel done in our kitchen and our…

Dr. Angela Zechmann (06:14):
I remember that

Marchelle (06:16):
Right. And we struggled so much with, because you know, you, you prep and then you, we all know prepping is the most important part of eating. Right. And yeah, we couldn't do that because we didn't have a refrigerator. We had nothing in our kitchen. Yeah. And it threw us off so much because there was, there's only so many places to eat in our small town

Dr. Angela Zechmann (06:39):

Marchelle (06:40):
That, you know, especially when you're tr you're trying to stick to your routine and there were no cues because we, we didn't have a kitchen. Yeah. So I just, I just remember how much we struggled for those three there's like three months. Yeah. And I, I, we just got way off track and we struggled a lot. And I, we talked to you a lot about how to get through that time period. Cause it was just really frustrating. So yeah. You just get, yeah, it's just, just hard when you don't have the cues that you're talking about that just keep you in your routine. So definitely understandable. This all makes sense.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (07:14):
It all make, I, I was just really surprised because, because, you know, since we, we are really focusing on habits this in, during this month of March in our, in our membership, I was really surprised to just watch my brain just sort of go nuts. I was really irritable. I just, it, everything just felt so hard. You know, I was like, oh my gosh. So I wanted to bring this up because for our podcast listeners, I want you to know how important the cues are. If you're moving or you're traveling, or life is unstable for you, for some reason, please give yourself a break. Did you hear me beating myself up about any of this? I bet I did not. Okay. I just knew like, wow, my brain is really having a hard time adjusting to this and your brain needs a stable routine and will thrive on a stable routine.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (08:09):
But if something happens to destabilize things, you're gonna have a much more difficult time sticking to your routines. That's, that's just all there is to it. Kitchen remodel. Yeah. House remodel, move. Anything, anything that destabilizes your normal routines is gonna cause you to falter.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (08:29):
Now, the other thing that I want you to know is that you can retrain your brain to develop new habits at any time. Our daily routines, the, that we do day in and day out are what creates our results for us. There's a great book. I've mentioned it before. It's called Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear, that explains the habit cycle in detail and explains how it is that small things done consistently over time create amazing results. But the consistency is the key! Being consistent, not wishy-washy but consistent. So I would in encourage our listeners to think about your daily routines and the results that you're getting from your daily routines.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (09:22):
Is there anything in your daily routine, that's not getting you the results that you want. For example, a caramel macchiato every morning that you might go pop into Starbucks or whatever your favorite coffee place is, that would be a habit that is not helping you on your weight loss journey. So tease that habit out. What's the cue. What's the routine. What's the reward. Sometimes. It's interesting because what you might think the cue is, might not be the actual cue. We were talking with a gal in the Empowered Weight Loss membership on our coaching call and she thought her cue was TV, but it turned out it wasn't TV. It was very specific TV programs that were a cue for her to go and get peanut butter to eat while she was watching, not all TV, just certain programs. So that was interesting. So I would, I would suggest whatever your habit routine is that you wanna change, get really deliberate about figuring out well, what actually is the cue for you?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (10:35):
Okay. What's the cue, what's the routine and what's the reward at the end. And sometimes all it takes is removing the cue. As I found out last week, all my good habits got extinguished when I didn't have the cue, but if you have a bad habit, could be, all you need to do is remove the cue and you can extinguish the habit. So last week for me, there was no cue for exercise. So I didn't exercise. Although you could say that packing and moving boxes is plenty of exercise. You could say that, but I didn't have my usual routine. I didn't have my usual meditation chair. So I didn't meditate regularly. I did meditate a little bit, but not regularly. I forgot to take my contacts out at night a few times. So extinguishing a habit. That's not serving you can actually be relatively easy if you just eliminate the cue.

Marchelle (11:36):
Okay. Just, I'm gonna jump in really quick, cuz I was just thinking of this. So I know a lot of people drink Starbucks. Yeah. And that and, and I did too. Yeah. And I was thinking, so one of the ways that I had to remove the cue was I had to drive a different route. Yeah. Because I would, because I would drive past it on my way to work every morning. So I would, - it was hard for me to get rid of the cue because cuz I was, I was driving past it every morning. So one way for me to remove that was I'd have to take a different route home. Yeah. Not, I mean not a different route home, excuse me. A different route to work, to work

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:12):
To work.

Marchelle (12:13):
And to, and home because it was the same, it the same thing. I want coffee in the afternoon. I only wanted it in the morning. Yeah. So but I would have to take it if I'm route. So that's, that was just one of the ways I remember having to remove that cue.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:25):
Yeah. That's a really good example. I love that. One of our patients told us that after she retired, she didn't have to get a up early. So she'd stay up late at night watching TV. It wasn't until after her husband went to bed and that seemed to be the cue for her. She'd go get some food to snack on while she was watching TV.

Marchelle (12:45):
Oh, I definitely have done that.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:47):
Yeah. And I really do feel like TV is a cue for a lot of people to eat.

Marchelle (12:54):
Oh for sure.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:55):
And I would like to say that if you're watching network TV, oftentimes, it's because there are all kinds of ads for processed foods and that will be a cue to me. Yeah. So that's really, really common. So that's something that you might wanna think about. Can you eliminate the cue? What this particular woman decided to do was to stop watching TV and read a book instead, reading a book was not a cue for her to eat. So she stopped eating and got back to losing weight. Isn't that interesting? Huh?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (13:26):
She was just sitting there flipping through, you know, I mean she wasn't, it wasn't like she was watching any particular show. She was just sort of entertaining herself and relaxing in the evening. So reading a book was a fine activity for her and was not a cue for eating. So that worked really well. Okay. So that's how you can eliminate habits that are not serving you. And of course I do wanna say if, if it's a habit where your brain is getting a sugar hit, it's gonna be a little bit more challenging. I mean, eliminating the cue is gonna be the first step, but it's gonna be challenging to get through the sugar withdrawal. So be sure if you haven't already done it, join us in Sugar and Flour Buster Society. That's our Facebook group. So we can help you with that.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (14:12):
Make sure that you get the Sugar Detox Menu and that can help you with that as well. Now - let's turn this around and let's say that you have a habit that you want to get started like a new habit that will serve you. So many people wanna start a regular exercise routine. Now remember I always teach you don't exercise to lose weight. You lose weight so you can so you can exercise, but exercise is really, really good for you. And it's a habit that gives you mental stability and it keeps your muscle strong and it keeps insulin resistance at bay. So yeah, I'm all for exercise. But - what I want you to understand is that for any habit that you wanna start, always work first at being consistent about it. Don't work at intensity. In other words, don't work too hard work at being consistent.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (15:12):
So for example, it's pretty classic that people will join a gym in January and then give it all up by February. And the reason is that they're working with too much intensity in the beginning. Like I see them sign up for full on three days a week, hardcore boot camps. And that's just not gonna work long term. You have to build the consistency first. So just work at getting yourself to the gym for five minutes, just work at being consistent and just getting yourself to the gym and get on a treadmill for five minutes a and then leave. That's all you gotta do. Make it easy and be consistent about it. Give yourself some sort of reward at the end, a little dopamine hit by saying out loud to yourself in the car - maybe after you're on your way home, "you are awesome! You are totally awesome. You did it!" Give yourself a dopamine hit, congratulate yourself for a job well done and congratulate yourself for your consistency. And then once you've managed to develop a consistent habit, then, you can add the intensity to it. The longer workouts, the more intense workouts, but always get the consistency first. Does that make sense?

Marchelle (16:37):
That definitely makes sense. And always, you know, when, when you're learning always be kind to yourself, don't get too hard on yourself.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (16:45):
Oh for sure. Yeah. Yeah. So so that's what I have to say about your daily routines. I am going to conclude with a quote from James Clear. I already mentioned him, the author of Atomic Habits. And this is his quote from when he was speaking to Brené Brown on her podcast. And he said "The difference between eating a burger and fries for lunch every day, or eating a salad on any given day is pretty insignificant. Your body looks the same in the mirror. At the end of the night, the scale hasn't really changed. It's only two or five or 10 years later that you're like, oh, those daily choices really do add up. It's kind of like you go through your daily routine and then three years later it's like, knock, knock. Who's there. Oh the consequences of my past decisions."

Marchelle (17:44):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (17:46):
It's like turns out that stuff creeps up on you!

Marchelle (17:50):
Knock, knock. Who's there. Yeah.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (17:54):
That's Jane's Clear. That's not me. So I'm still reading his quote. He said, that's funny. Yeah. He says, "I think that we feel that in so many different ways in so many different areas in life. And so that pattern of what starts out small and seems relatively insignificant grows and accumulates into something bigger. We see it again and again. And I think we all know this. We have all felt this just from going through life and it's a double edged sword. Your habits can either build you up or cut you down." And I think a strong reason, a good argument for why you wanna understand what they are and how they work and how to design them so that you can be the architect of your habit and not the victims of them. Does that make sense?

Marchelle (18:45):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (18:46):
So become the architect of your habits. In other words, you decide what results you want and then you get busy figuring out, okay, how am I gonna do this? How am I gonna train my brain for this? How can I start small and be consistent and accumulate that habit over time and accumulate the results over time. Cool. So then you're not, then you get to live the life and have the results that you want. And you're not the victim of unconscious habits. Very cool. I love James Clear, by the way, just so you know, he's my hero. One of my heroes, all right, everyone. That's all for today. We go into all of this in much more detail in the Empowered Weight Loss membership. And if you're interested in joining us, it starts with a Done With Dieting Bootcamp. All you have to do is go to and you'll see a tab there for the Bootcamp to sign up and we will see you on the inside. And I hope you'll join us. It's great. It's a lot of fun. So take care everyone, and we will see you next week. Bye now.

Marchelle (20:00):
Goodbye everybody.

Closing (20:02):
Hey, if you really want to lose weight and keep it off for good, your next step is to sign up for Dr. Angela's free weight loss course, where you're going to learn everything you need to get started on your weight loss journey, the right way. Just head over to to sign up. Also, it would be awesome if you could take a few moments and write a review on iTunes. Thanks! And we'll see you in Journey Beyond Weight Loss!

--- End of Transcription ---

Dr. Angela



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