How To Create Healthy Eating Habits (3 Hacks)
In a 2006 study at Duke University, it was concluded that habits keep us doing what we have always done, despite our best intentions to act otherwise. We are creatures of habit. Failure to achieve a goal, regardless of its category, does not necessarily indicate poor willpower or an inadequate understanding of how to achieve that particular goal. What is revealed the majority of the time is that as human beings, we become triggered into repeating past responses because that is what we are familiar with.
This is often the case with those that hop from diet to diet or challenge to challenge while seeing temporary progress only to have their weight return. Once a diet or weight loss challenge concludes, the only thing we know is to return to our old way of living. Hence, the weight return since our old ways of living typically involves enjoying some of the more “fun” foods and being less active than what we have been doing while fully involved with said diet or challenge. So how can we break past these life triggers and establish new healthy eating habits, forever?
Start Small (Really Small)
The harder the challenge ahead, typically the less motivated we tend to be over time. This is when you will hear people say, “I need more motivation” or “if I just had the willpower, I could accomplish this goal.” According to Stanford professor BJ Fogg, motivation is “like a wave.” If your goal is to lose 50-100lbs, the wrong approach is to expect a magical transformation overnight where you’ll be able to exercise daily, change your entire diet, and completely give up alcohol and other favorite foods you typically will indulge in on a Friday night after 5 pm. Instead, break down your goal into small pieces that don’t really involve that much motivation such as increasing water intake, skipping days you have sugary sodas, walking the block 3 times a week, etc. These will add up over time and all help accomplish the same long-term goal.
Have you ever heard of the Jerry Seinfeld approach to developing habits? At the beginning of Seinfeld’s career, he would make it a goal to write one joke every day and check it off on a calendar. It didn’t matter if the jokes were good or bad. The ultimate goal was to simply get into the habit of writing jokes and form one long consistent, unbroken chain on the calendar until he developed enough jokes to fill an entire comedic act on stage. What is one consistent action you can do each day, unbroken, that will move you closer to the ultimate goal? Can you begin eating breakfast? What about trying one piece of fruit or eating one protein source with every meal?
Never Miss Twice
We all will slip up eventually, we are imperfect human beings. The difference between those that succeed with their goals and the ones that keep falling short is that the successful quickly dust themselves off and begin again while the fallen ones begin binging or completely give up almost immediately after they have one slip up. The reason many of us keep falling short is we have this “all or nothing” mindset.
Example: we start our new diet on Monday, we even begin waking up early before work and exercise. But, towards the end of the week, you are sore and burned out mentally. The motivation has begun to sink away. You miss your workout that morning and end up “treating” yourself to your favorite fun food. Then the mind games begin. You convince yourself that it is nearly impossible to do this every single morning for the next ‘x’ weeks, months, and years to achieve this goal. So the thoughts of giving up sink in and here comes the downward spiral.
Here is when it is helpful to remember your “why” and establish some concrete reminders on just how important achieving a healthier lifestyle is. If you keep going, where will you be a month from now, a year from now? Now imagine if you quit, how much worse will your health be in a year or two? Sometimes the easier route is just to get back up and keep going!
*Bonus* Be Willing to Take a Step Backward
In my 4 Pillars of Fat Loss strategy guide, I discuss the importance of spending time in reflection and identifying our core values. Doing this before beginning any weight loss regimen or healthy eating routine is imperative. We cannot travel to a new destination without knowing where we are currently and understanding where we have been. In the beginning, when we are motivated, we are so eager to take action. I urge you to use that eagerness to evaluate your current trends and how you react under pressure and when motivation is gone. Similar to the quote, “success leaves clues” by Tony Robbins, I personally believe failure leaves clues as well. They teach us what NOT to do again, yet, many of us do that when we diet hop. Spend time in reflection and ask yourself what you can do differently this time around.
Achieving a new healthy lifestyle isn’t something you can create overnight. It takes time, consistency, and patience. But I promise you can get there. After almost ten years of coaching individuals of all walks of life, I have come to realize that our daily habits are what create long-term results, not simply writing out goals and trying our very best. If you are struggling to achieve your health goals, I encourage you to subscribe to my weekly newsletter for more healthy habit tips and weight-loss strategies.
"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find a new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.
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