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How to build habits for diet and fitness (Article 1 of 2)

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

Why are some able to stick to their diets and fitness goals while other seem to fail? Is it because those people are inherently “better”?

Not exactly. It’s because they’ve figured out the secret that… there is no secret! The most successful and healthy people have created good habits, relationships, and systems to fuel their lifestyle. They don’t do a transformation every few months to get rid of unwanted body fat or completely upend their daily lives. They instead utilize daily compound interest of small habits that lead to long term and lasting change.

This doesn’t make them superheroes and it doesn’t mean they don’t falter or fail. It simply means that when they do make mistakes, they have habits built to quickly revert back to better choices. They have systems to recover instead of spiraling.

So how do you create better habits? Read on to find out!

Start Small. Change can feel overwhelming, especially when attempting several things at once. Start with one small change, and then build from there.

What: Choose one behavior at a time to work on and make it specific.

Why: When we are specific with our goals (INSERT GOALS LINK), it’s easier to track our progress. When we track our progress, we can see evidence of our growth, and as we experience small successes, we are more motivated to keep going.

How: Incorporate one new behavior into your existing routine. Attach it to something you already do so it doesn’t seem like an additional task.

Examples:

  • Walk for 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual.

  • Eat 1 cup of vegetables at dinner instead of a ½ cup.

Be Your Own Ally. Make the habit-forming process as effortless as possible by working on behalf of yourself, rather than against yourself.

What: Create an environment that supports your habit-forming efforts.

Why: We naturally gravitate toward the path of least resistance. If good habits require minimal effort, we are more likely to engage in those good habits.

How: Surround yourself with the people and things that will help you shape your desired habits. Eliminate temptations and distractions that may hinder your efforts.

Example

  • Remove junk food from the house so it isn’t within arm’s reach.

  • Spend one day per week meal-prepping so you can have grab-and-go meals during the week, rather than buying fast food or skipping meals.

  • Lay out your workout gear the night before so you can get extra rest in the morning.

Plan for Setbacks. Be proactive, not reactive! Obstacles are bound to pop up with any endeavor. While we can’t necessarily predict what, exactly, might go wrong, we can still anticipate factors that might interfere with our original plan.

What: Create a back-up plan for situations in case things don’t go as expected.

Why: If you have a back-up plan in place, then you can still follow through on our intentions, even if things go sideways. Rely your plans, not your excuses!

How: Brainstorm potential setbacks, obstacles, or temptations that may come up in a specific situation, and develop an alternative course of action for completing the task.

Example

  • Forgot your food at home? Have a few snacks already at the office that will be able to fulfill you for the day or know how to eat out at local restaurants to s