How to Diet Using Operant Conditioning

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If you have ever felt dissatisfied with your health, your weight, or how you look in the mirror, but have never been able to find a diet that works for you, than read this article! Learn how to customize your own diet, that works for you, and will guarantee healthy and permanent weight loss. These methods are based on the psychology principle of Operant Conditioning, developed by American psychologist, author, and inventor B.F. Skinner.

How to Diet Using Operant Conditioning

Before you can change a behavior into something new, you first must understand what the behavior currently is. So, for approximately 10 to 14 days, take notes everyday on the amount of food you consume. Record everything, from breakfast, lunch and dinner, to small snacks, and any drinks, like juice and soda. You don't necessarily need to be keeping track of all the calories, but the more detail you note, the more effective your weight loss can be. Simultaneously, you should record the amount of water you drink everyday, as well as the number of fruits and vegetables you eat everyday.

Once you know the amount of food you consume in a day, it is now time to determine the amount of weight that you would like to weigh. For Operational Conditioning to work, you must have a beginning baseline, and an endpoint. For those of you following this guide that are counting calories, a good rule of thumb to follow is that your weight in pounds, multiplied by 11 is your about average calorie intake per day right now. So, if you want to weigh 20 pounds less than you do right now, your goal will be to remove 220 calories from your diet. But not so fast! My next few steps will turn this challenge into a walk in the park.

Two fundamental rules of dieting you should know! 1. Your body must use more energy in a day than it consumes in burnable calories. 2. Your diet SHOULD consist of a good amount of water, and many fruits and vegetables daily! This is the only healthy way to eat. If you find your not eating your fruits and vegetables, pay attention closely! Let's now begin the Operant Conditioning. Examine your notes on your average food consumption. Your goal will eventually be to transform this entire list of daily consumed food, but if we try to tackle the challenge all at once, we'll be more likely to fail. The trick to Operant Conditioning is making small changes over time in graduated steps. Each week, make a single change to your list of your daily food intake. I suggest either removing a single snack, or replacing a snack with a piece of fruit, or replacing lunch with a salad, or replacing a regular glass of soda with fruit juice, or replacing a regular glass of juice with water. Any little change you want to make, but shift your diet slightly in a "healthier" direction. I will leave this decision up to you. This diet is about what YOU want to eat and what YOU want to achieve. Once you have decided on changing a small part of your diet, make it permanent, and follow this small change daily.

To encourage you to follow your change, Operant Conditioning implements rewards as reinforcement. Rewarding yourself for "good behavior" will make you want to perform that behavior more frequently and with more excitement. You can actually teach yourself to enjoy eating healthy! A few things you must know about rewards! 1. They work best if implemented immediately after your changed behavior. But because your food intake lasts a whole day, you can implement them towards the end of the day and they will still have a strong effect. 2. The best rewards are activities that you do often and love to do already, whether it is watching TV, playing video games, going out with friends, reading a book, anything! But I recommend avoiding rewards of more food and snacks... So, everyday that you follow your slightly changed diet all the way through, reward yourself with this activity. You deserve it for getting through your day a little bit healthier. BUT, if you fail to complete a day with your slightly changed diet, you MUST NOT do this reward activity. No cheating or it completely negates the entire process of change.

Once you make it through a week after changing one small part of your diet, in the next week, change one more small part of your diet. Replace a meal with healthy fruits and vegetables, eliminate a snack, add in one or two more glasses of water. Change any part of your diet that brings you one small step closer to your desired calorie or food intake. Continue to reward yourself every time you successfully go through a day eating a little bit healthier. Any days you don't follow your diet changes, do not reward yourself.

Continue the entire process for several weeks, until you are consuming less food, healthier food, or fewer snacks, and you'll start to notice that you are losing weight! Following this method, you don't necessarily need to exercise, but a little bit always helps. Without extra exercise, if you reduce your diet by so many calories or servings of food, you will start to lose about a pound of body fat every week. This may not seem like much, but it is the healthiest way to lose weight because it is 100% natural and its a diet that you can still enjoy when you want to. I personally lost 8 pounds in 7 weeks after gradually shifting from a 2,200 calorie diet to an 1,800 calorie diet. And as I stick to my plan, the weight keeps coming off and stays off! It may appear difficult, but the key is making tiny changes over time. If you can accomplish your first tiny change, you can accomplish any tiny change. Go enjoy living healthy!

Tips & Warnings

  • The more water you drink, the better! It makes any diet work more effectively. I recommend 1/2 gal. to 1 gal. of water per day!
  • The more fruit and vegetables you consume, the better! It makes any diet work more effectively. One thing I did was rewarded myself for consuming 2 fruits and 2 vegetables daily! Then worked up to 3 and 2, and then 3 and 3, and eventually, I was so full and satisfied with fruits and vegetables, I stopped eating that late night snack!
  • If you find yourself unable to go a day following your small diet changes, that means you need to make an even smaller change. This is okay! Do what you are able to accomplish, and making these small changes over time will add up to a perfect and healthy you!
  • If your unable to follow your small diet changes, it may be because your reward isn't working. You may need to try different rewards until you find one that works. My favorite reward is a shower. I can't go a day without a shower because I love feeling clean and fresh every morning. If I ever failed to complete my diet one day, I would not allow myself to shower the next day... after missing one shower, I can tell you that I never broke my diet again!
  • It is okay to break your diet from time to time, just remember to not reward yourself. Diets can be difficult for some people. If you feel like one day you need to pig out, that's okay! You'll pick up on the right track when you are ready.
  • Always consult a doctor or physician before beginning any new diet or exercise... But I can pretty much guarantee you, any doctor would approve of this method.

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