10 Habits You Need to Break to Lose Weight for Good

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It’s time to put an end to those little habits that are holding you back from your goal weight. I’m going to share with you 10 habits to break to lose weight – and keep it off for good!

As a mom, you’re probably like me and juggling so many things at once and it can be easy to slip into survival mode. You might feel like all you do is work, take care of your kids, clean the house, etc.

Next thing you know, you’ve fallen into unhealthy habits that are hindering your weight loss. Let’s dive into the 10 habits that need to go ASAP for weight loss success.

10 Habits You Need to Break to Lose Weight for Good

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which I’m happy to promote. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Much love & thank you for your support. 🙂 To learn more about my policy, click here.

Why Your Habits Matter

Most of us like to feel we’re in control of our days. I know I certainly do.

I plan the meals, I decide when the kids go to bed,  I choose what activities we do. I feel like I’m consciously making decisions all day.

In reality though, according to Stuart G. Walesh, Ph.D. :

Studies by neurobiologists, cognitive psychologists, and others indicate that from 40 to 95 percent of human behavior—how we think, what we say, and our overall actions—falls into the habit category.

Our habits make up a huge part of our day. This means the quality of our habits is going to have a big impact on our weight loss.

If 40-95% of what we eat, how we eat, and how active we are is determined by our habits, then it becomes extra important to make sure we have the right ones in our life.

While I fully advocate for building good habits for weight loss into your daily life, sometimes it’s a little simpler to start with eliminating some of the bad ones first.

10 Habits You Need to Break to Lose Weight for Good

A lot of us tend to go throughout our day on autopilot. When we go to a restaurant, we often order the same meal.

When we’ve had a bad day, we often reach for the same treat to help us feel better. We’re creatures of habit.

Well when it comes to weight loss, you need to make sure you have the right habits in place because they’re going to affect our health.

Most of the women I know who struggle to consistently lose weight do so because they’ve never taken the time to actually address some of their bad eating habits.

They find a new diet, try to white-knuckle their way through it, and eventually end up falling off the wagon. They get too busy, stressed, or just plain tired of feeling restricted and miserable.

Until I started addressing my bad eating habits, I was stuck flitting from diet to diet and wondering why I could never manage to lose more than a few pounds here or there.

It wasn’t until I started addressing the habits on this list that I finally started seeing the number on the scale go down and stay down.

If you’re anything like me, you want to actually see results from all your weight loss efforts. So let’s cover the 10 habits you need to ditch if you want to lose weight and keep it off for good.

Relying on “willpower”

The number one habit to break to lose weight is relying on willpower alone. I spent years trying to completely overhaul my life thinking that was what I needed to do. And I see so many other women and moms who do the same thing.

We pick super restrictive diets that are hard to stick to. Or we try crazy difficult exercise programs. We pick a weight loss program that requires us to drastically change our lifestyle and then wonder why it’s not working.

With three kids, a husband, a dog, and a cat, sometimes I forget what day of the week it is and why I walked into the living room. To think that I’m going to magically be able to give up flour and sugar while also exercising an hour a day was kind of ridiculous and I wish I had realized that earlier.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

When we choose diets and eating plans that rely on willpower alone to stick to them, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. There’s a term called decision fatigue and most of us struggle with it.

According to Medical New Today, “Decision fatigue is the idea that after making many decisions, a person’s ability to make additional decisions becomes worse.”

When you spend so much of our day having to figure out:

  • what clothes to wear
  • what to dress our kids in
  • whether they can watch this show or not, work decisions
  • what chores to do
  • how to handle the latest sibling fight
  • how you can help your oldest make more friends
  • whether that cold is getting serious enough to go to the doctor
  • and the 55,000 other decisions we have to make as a mom

…it’s no surprise that by the time dinner rolls around we’re DONE!

You don’t want to try to figure out something healthy that your picky eater might actually try. You don’t want to decide if you’re up for a workout and which of the 25 million YouTube videos is the best one to try.

So you fall back on the easy habits of popping in a frozen pizza and crashing on the couch. Which obviously doesn’t help your weight loss, but you’re too tired to care.

You’re much better off, building in healthy habits and changes to your diet slowly. Pick one thing, work on it until it becomes a habit, and then find another area to improve.

That’s how I lost my weight and it worked a whole lot better than trying to force myself to stick to a new diet and routine I just wasn’t ready for.

Eating with distractions

Next on our list of habits to break to lose weight is eating with distractions. This means eating while you’re watching tv, looking at your phone, reading a book, cleaning up in the kitchen, etc.

It’s basically eating while you’re paying attention to anything BUT your food. It’s something most of us are guilty of.

I worked hard to break this habit and I still catch myself doing it sometimes.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

When you eat with distractions it often leads to overeating because you don’t notice when your body is satisfied. Our body will naturally give off satiation cues as we eat to let us know that it’s had enough.

When we’re eating while sucked into Facebook or Instagram however, it’s really easy to miss those satiation cues. We blow past them and end up eating more calories than our body needs.

Another way eating with distractions causes us to overeat is because we miss out on the opportunity to taste and enjoy our food. Have you ever sat down with your favorite dessert in front of the TV?

You’re all excited to dive in while watching your favorite show. A few minutes later you look down to find yourself scraping the bottom of the bowl disappointed to find it’s all gone.

Next thing you know, you’re talking yourself into having another helping because it just “tastes so good.”

You didn’t actually enjoy the dessert you were so looking forward to eating because you were distracted the entire time you were eating it!

When you practice eating without any distractions, you will actually taste and enjoy your food more while still being able to eat smaller portion sizes. This is an important part of how I have lost weight and kept it off long term.

Printable Morning Weight Loss Journal


Another habit you need to break to lose weight is perfectionism. Perfectionism is the enemy of any goal, but especially losing weight.

Perfectionism tells us that if we don’t stick to our diet perfectly then it’s not going to work. That we have to eat the strictest diet possible, we can’t ever deviate from it, and we have to do it right forever.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

Getting into the habit of being a perfectionist with your weight loss can lead to so many sabotaging thoughts. Here are just a few:

  • “Well, I blew my diet with breakfast, so the whole day is ruined. I might as well eat what I want.”
  • “I’ve already messed up, so I will start over again next week.”
  • “I can’t start eating better until I have the time to cook healthy meals from scratch.”

Not only can perfectionism derail you from your diet, it often makes your diet look like such an overwhelming task or project that you don’t even want to start.

I can promise you, if I thought that in order to lose weight I was going to have to cut out my favorite foods, never eat ice cream or pizza again, meal prep every weekend, never eat out again, and stick to my diet perfectly, I never would have even tried.

And even if I had gotten myself together enough to start a diet, I would have thrown in the towel the first time I messed up.

Real-life, successful weight loss means starting off slow, making mistakes, and eating off-plan sometimes. But you learn from those missteps and 👏 keep 👏 moving 👏 forward!

Let go of the habit of thinking you have to do everything perfectly in order to lose weight.

Being too restrictive

The most common habit you need to break to lose weight is picking diets that are too restrictive. Somewhere along the way, the diet industry convinced us that in order to lose weight you have to give up all your favorite foods.

Some diets say you should cut out sugar, fat, carbs, flour, milk, etc. And some try to convince you that you can eat what you want as long as you strictly monitor your portion sizes.

Whether that’s by counting calories, macros, or using perfectly measured containers or plates.

All of these diets sound good in theory, but for most of us, they actually do more harm than good.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

This restrictive, all-or-nothing dieting mentality often makes it harder to lose weight. When we try diets that are too restrictive it often causes us to overeat when we inevitably fail to stick to the diet.

According to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration, here’s how the restrictive dieting cycle often plays out:

  1. The dieter limits the amount of food or type of food eaten.
  2. The metabolism slows down to conserve energy, appetite increases, and the craving for the restricted foods increases.
  3. We break the diet rules and often end up overeating.
  4. We feel guilt, shame, and regret from breaking the diet and overeating.
  5. We resolve to do better and then go find another restrictive diet in the hopes it will work better.

I saw this cycle play out in my life over and over for years before I finally ditched restrictive diets. It was no wonder that I never saw any progress with my weight loss.

Instead, I started focusing on making small improvements to my diet over time. The slow but steady approach, allowed me to create healthy changes I could actually live with long term.

Related Post: 8 Secrets to a Successful Diet

Drinking your calories

This is a sneaky little habit that most people don’t pay attention to. If you’re serious about losing weight, you need to stop drinking your calories.

That means cutting back on the sodas, juice, sugary coffee add-ins, and wine. I’m not saying you have to give them up completely, but it’s worth shifting them from “something you drink all the time,” to the “occasional indulgence.”

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

Drinks like soda, juice, lattes, and alcohol are full of sugar and carbs while holding little to no nutritional value. Although they might taste good, they’re hurting your weight loss.

They hold a shocking amount of calories – usually in the form of sugar. Here are some stats from WebMD:

  • A 12-ounce can of soda has between about 125 and 180 calories.
  • 8 ounces of juice have between about 100 and 150 calories.
  • Add flavored syrups, whole milk, and whipped cream, to your coffee and your drink can top 400 calories, all from extra fat and sugar.
  • An 8-ounce serving of an energy drink gives you as much as 150 calories — the same as a 12-ounce soda.
  • You get about 120 calories in a 5-ounce glass of white wine, and 125 in a glass of red. Dessert wines are in the same calorie range as soda.

That’s a lot of calories to add to your diet when you’re trying to lose weight. Especially considering they don’t even satisfy your hunger.

I definitely saw a lot of success when I stopped drinking juice every day and started drinking water.

Related Post: 15 Quick and Easy Tips for Drinking More Water

Snacking throughout the day

Another habit to break to lose weight is snacking throughout the day. It can be so easy to graze here and there as you’re going about your day.

Especially if you’re home with the kids all day like I am.

I often found myself grabbing a few crackers here…

Finishing off the PB&J crusts there…

Sneaking a few cookies when the kids weren’t looking…

I would never actually get “full,” so it was easy to forget how much I would eat throughout the day. I was the queen of telling myself “A little bit won’t hurt.”

Once I started tracking my food, I realized how much I was actually eating. A little doesn’t hurt, but if you tell yourself that all day, it becomes a lot!

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

Grazing throughout the day makes it very difficult to lose weight because you never actually get truly hungry, so you don’t recognize when you’re satisfied.

This leads to overeating and consuming more calories than your body needs.

Imagine your body is a car and your stomach is a gas tank. You wake up in the morning and fill your tank up with breakfast. You fill it all the way up to the top until your full.

Then about an hour later, you’ve been running around getting the kids out the door to school and you’ve used up about a quarter of the tank.

You decide to grab a quick snack before you start doing some chores. Your tank is back at full.

If you keep doing this throughout the day, your body never gets down below 3/4 full. Which means your body has to do something with all that extra gas (or calories).

It’s going to do what it’s designed to do and store it for later in the form of fat. Our bodies work best when we fully empty our tanks between each meal.

When we snack all day and we don’t allow that to happen, we’re forcing our bodies to store those extra calories somehow and it’s usually on our thighs and hips.

Once I started cutting down on the snacking, I started seeing immediate results with my weight loss.

Related Post: How to Stop Mindless Snacking

Monthly Weight Loss Tracker

Eating out of the bag

Another bad habit that’s hurting your weight loss is eating out of the bag. Whether you’re diving into the chips and salsa or you’re grabbing a few handfuls of popcorn it’s probably slowing down your weight loss.

Eating out of the bag can often lead to mindless snacking which leads to overeating.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

When you eat out of the bag, you’re more likely to eat more food than you would if you poured it into a bowl. When the bag is open and sitting in front of you, it can be sooo easy to just keep grabbing another bite, and another, and another.

Maybe you intended to just have a few handfuls and next thing you know, the bag is half empty. I’ve had this happen with more than one box of Cheezits.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Buy pre-portioned snack bags
  • Pour it into a bowl
  • Measure out one serving
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV, phone, computer, etc.

Making sure you don’t eat out of the bag can go a long way to cutting down on your potion sizes and making sure you don’t overeat.

Eating late at night

Eating late at night is another bad habit to break to lose weight. Sometimes we can be so tempted to just have a quick snack after the kids have gone to bed and we’re settling down for the night.

I can’t tell you how often I would make pancakes, grab some cheese and crackers, or make a bowl of cereal. Just something small to “help me sleep” or “relax” after a long day.

It seemed to make sense at the time, but it was definitely making it harder for me to lose weight.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

Not everyone believes that eating late at night makes a difference with your weight loss, but it sure did with mine. Here are 3 reasons I kicked the habit:

  1. I was giving in to cravings, not actual hunger.
  2. I was less likely to make healthy eating choices.
  3. I was shortening how long my body was in fat-burning mode.

When I used to eat late at night, 9 times out of 10, it was due to cravings or emotional eating. My body wasn’t hungry, I was just tired after a long day and wanted a break.

I was also far less likely to make healthy eating choices. When I’m worn out and desperately watching the clock until it’s late enough for my kids to go to bed, I’m not deciding to go snack on a banana.

Most of us are looking for something with carbs or sugar to help us make it through until bedtime.

Eating late at night also shortens how long your body is in fat-burning mode. In an article on John Hopkins Medicine, they explain it like this:

Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.

If you stop eating after dinner and cut out the late-night snacking, your body will “fast” until you have breakfast. The earlier you stop eating, the longer your body will burn fat.

I practiced intermittent fasting for a few months and saw a huge difference in my ability to manage my weight. I’m not strict with my fasting at all, but cutting out my late-night eating made a big difference.

Related Post: Tips on How to Stop Late Night Eating

Focusing on fitness instead of food

Another habit that needs to go when you’re trying to lose weight is focusing on fitness instead of food. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love fitness.

I love to exercise and be active and it’s an important part of staying fit and healthy. But it’s not the biggest part of weight loss.

If you want to lose weight, you have to focus on your diet first and let exercise be a compliment to it.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. There isn’t a mom I’ve met yet who has the time to exercise as often as you would need in order to compensate for eating a lot of unhealthy food.

Remember those sodas I mentioned earlier. One soda is about 125 and 180 calories.

You would have to jog for about 20 minutes to burn that off (depending on your weight). And that’s just one soda!

Imagine how long you would have to jog if you added on a burger and large order of fries. And you ate like that for every meal.

You would literally have to spend all your time exercising to compensate for that. Most of us just don’t have that kind of time.

Focus on your diet first if you want to lose weight. Let exercise be a compliment to your weight loss, not the main plan.

90 day Fitness Planner and Tracker

Not getting enough sleep

Last on our list of habits to break to lose weight is not getting enough sleep. Our bodies NEED sleep.

As one tired momma to another, one of the best things I ever did for my health and my weight loss was to prioritize sleep. If you’re trying your best to get 6-8 hours of sleep a night, your health will benefit from it.

Here’s why it’s hurting your weight loss:

When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re much more likely to deal with food cravings and urges. You’ll probably find yourself slipping into a cycle of diet sabotage more often as well.

When we don’t get enough sleep our bodies are usually pretty desperate to get some energy somewhere. We’re more likely to reach for those sugary energy drinks or an extra snack or two to help us get through.

Being tired lowers our mental energy and ability to make healthy choices for ourselves.

Make sleep a priority each night and you will be much more up to the task of sticking to a healthy diet and losing weight.

Conclusion to 10 Habits You Need to Break to Lose Weight for Good

Now that we’ve covered these 10 habits to break to lose weight you can start making the most of your weight loss efforts. No more feeling like you’re trying so hard while the scale stubbornly refuses to go down.

If this list feels overwhelming, remember to just take everything 1 step at a time. Pick the habit you’re the readiest to quit and go from there.

Even a small first step can get you started on your journey. 💖

Did you discover some unhealthy habits to break to lose weight? Let me know in the comments below or email me at Candice@littlestepsbighappy.com. Follow me on Pinterest for more weight loss tips and advice.

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10 Habits You Need to Break to Lose Weight for Good

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2 thoughts on “10 Habits You Need to Break to Lose Weight for Good”

  1. Love your resources, it definitely helps to have things written. Sort of like setting them in stone, plus it helps notice patterns.

    • Thanks! 🙂 Writing things down has helped me a lot too. It’s helped me learn so much about how and why I eat, which has helped me create better habits.


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