We’re creatures of habit whether we care to admit it or not, and developing healthy habits is actually easier than you may think. It’s all about awareness.
Even the most spontaneous of people tend to have similar ways of doing things whether they’re healthy habits or not.
I tend to be one of those people that may seem boring from the outside. I like routine. I like to train at the same time of day; I like to eat similar kinds of food. I like a regular bedtime and wake up time.
Yawn. I sound like I’m 100 years old.
Having said this, I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the last year and I’ve even managed to find ‘routines’ while on the road. I always travel with my gymboss timer and skipping rope and find a gym or somewhere to train. I often hit up Starbucks for my beloved coffee and oatmeal with steamed non-fat milk and two scoops of protein or an egg white spinach wrap. I have my favorite restaurants and favorite items like the spring salad with salmon at California Pizza Kitchen or the sea bass at the Union restaurant in Las Vegas.
I’m one of those types…I don’t get bent outta shape (too much) if things are askew, but I feel best when I have some sense of routine.
I’d venture to say that most people are like this to a certain extent. And this is why it’s SO important to look at the habits that you have and see if you can make small changes to make them as healthy as possible.
For example, if you load up your coffee cup with 2 teaspoons of sugar each hit, and have four cups a day, that’s an additional 120 empty calories a day, or the equivalent to enough calories to gain (or lose!) a pound a month.
I know this is a bit nit picky, but it’s something to think about. If that sugar in your coffee isn’t THAT important to you, it may be one of those habits that you can change or let go.
John Dryden famously said, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
Confucius said, “Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”
And Aristotle noticed that, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
It’s pretty clear that the habits you adopt will shape who you are. And I mean this in the literal sense as well.
When it comes to your body, the two habits that define your physique are your eating and exercise habits. In fact, everyone that you know who’s in great shape has dialed in these two important habits.
If you aren’t happy with your body, then simply adjust your eating and exercise habits.
I’m all for change and developing healthy habits, but I’m all for success as well. You’re setting yourself up for failure when you decide to ‘quit smoking, go on a diet and start exercising’ in the same week. Let’s prioritize and pick ONE thing to change at a time. Once that habit is established, usually in about 21 days, then add to it.
As far as nutrition goes, maybe you want to look at:
· Not eating after 9 pm each night.
· Bringing your lunch to work instead of eating fast food.
· Only eating fruits and veggies as your afternoon snack.
· Cutting out or reducing coffee or what you add to it.
· Drinking more water.
· Adding a bit of protein with every meal and snack.
· Avoiding processed foods and excess sugar.
These are all simple habits to change ONE AT A TIME. Put them all together and it gets tough.
The same goes for adding some exercise to your day.
It’s the small changes that add up:
· Inking in your workout a minimum four times a week. Make it non-negotiable.
· Opting for active choices like going for a walk with a friend instead of a coffee date.
· Choosing light activity in the evenings over watching hours of TV.
· Getting up a little earlier in the morning to exercise if you know that your evenings get overbooked.
It’s helpful for accountability to write you habit down on paper and delve into WHY you want to change that habit, the possible obstacles you may encounter and a strategy to overcome the obstacle. I know, this sounds like a lot of work, but it gets easier and it only takes 5 minutes.
I’m suggesting you really think about this, I guarantee this will increase your chances of success. In reality, you’re a smart person and most of you, plan in hand, can achieve what you set out to do if you put some thought into it.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
· My new habit is to go to boot camp 3 times each week.
· My 3 main motivators are to feel confident in my bathing suit this summer, to have more energy, and to fit into my skinny jeans.
· The obstacles I may face may be lack of energy to go to my session after work, not enough money to pay for boot camp, and not having my spouse’s support.
· I can overcome these obstacles by doing my workouts first thing in the morning instead of after work and going to bed earlier. I can cut down on eating out to save money so I have enough for boot camp and I can encourage my spouse to either join me or do his own fitness thing so we can get in shape together.
Commit fully to your new habit in a public way. This could mean posting it on Facebook, or simply announcing it at the dinner table. Put yourself in a position where you’ll be embarrassed to give up on your new habit. And keep yourself publically accountable. This means either status updates on Facebook or verbal status updates at the dinner table.
Your friends and family are in a position to offer you support, so don’t shy away from those close to you.
Keep track of your progress. You could keep a detailed journal or simply make a check mark on each calendar day that you successfully exercise your new habit.
If you have a set back, get back on your plan right away. Lots of folks miss a workout, or fall off the wagon nutritionally and then give up and say they’ll start again on ‘Monday’ but ‘Monday’ never comes. Put it behind you and move ahead. Figure out what went wrong so that you can plan around it in the future.
Set small goals and reward yourself for your small successes along the way. Don’t wait until you’ve ‘lost 30 lbs’ (or what ever your grand goal is). Give yourself a pat on the back when smaller goals are met along the way.
Once your new habit becomes second nature, usually in about 21 days, add a second habit by going through the same steps. Slowly you’ll change your life.
There’s my boot camp, my home program, there’s my 14 day Virtual Fat Furnace that will jump start your healthy habits and there’s my intense coaching program where I’ll be your constant nag.
Changing unhealthy habits to healthy habits is an investment with a big pay off.
Do you have a healthy habit that I missed? Can you share it in the comment section so we can all benefit from it?