Building healthy habits begins with making better decisions. Every day you make choices about what to eat, when to eat, and when to workout.
Think about your typical day, how busy you are, and the number of decisions you make before breakfast; snooze or start the day, morning shower or no, what do I wear today, what is the weather like, what is the traffic like… the list can go on, but I’m sure you get my point. During any typical day for you, I want you to consider the following four questions, write them down, then continue reading:
What do you eat? What do you drink? Why do you eat those foods? Why do you drink those drinks?
Be truthful with yourself while answering these questions. If you don’t know, or have, an answer then write that down, “I don’t know.” Seriously, write them out then continue reading. I’ll wait…
At the moment, these choices may seem irrelevant to your health, but all the “small” decisions can quickly become healthy habits.
Some of you are seriously thinking right now, while others– those who meal plan for example are reading this with an understanding of what they eat and drink on a daily basis and are more interested in me moving on to talking more about habits. For those of you who are not planning your meals and are not paying attention to what you’re drinking, it’s time to change, even if it is a small change.
Remember, small decisions can quickly become healthy habits!
We all make changes in our lives, but how do these changes affect our health, and what are the possible long-term effects? Personally, I consider my health and the health of my family when making dietary decisions. I understand the importance of proper gut health in relation to hormones and general mood. You’ll quickly learn, the better you eat, the better you’ll feel. Look back on the four questions you answered for me earlier and consider this: Habits can be considered as either positive behavior change or negative behavior change. When you fail to plan your meals, do you typically eat from a store, or fast food, or a restaurant? What is in your food? Do you know EVERY ingredient? Do you truly know what you’re eating? Would you consider this a positive or negative behavior pattern when considering your health?
Let’s take a look at some everyday choices you make that can lead to healthy habits and become a catalyst for your health and fitness success.
Morning Decision: Breakfast
With all the hustle and bustle nowadays, more and more people are rushing to work in the morning and skipping breakfast. It’s tempting to skip breakfast when you’re late for a meeting or not in the habit of eating early. However, eating healthy foods early in the day will provide the energy you need for that meeting– once you arrive. Another overlooked reason to eat breakfast is the full feeling, being satiated, you will have until snack/lunchtime, which will prevent you from overeating later in the day. My best advice to you is find something healthy that works and roll with it, especially if you’re not a “breakfast person.” I typically avoid carbs in the morning and start the day burning fats and proteins, but that is me. You are unique, so do what works best for you. If you need help with this, schedule a call with me and we can chat about your best options.
Mid-Day Decision: Lunch
Lunch is often a pandora’s box for most. I mean, a real shit-show of emotion eating and impulse eating, pardon my french. Many, many clients have told me their lunch rituals and I honestly have no clue… I’m basically speechless. Let me be straight with you here. Eating out, fast food, and sometimes even a working lunch– these are all less optimal habits to form. This is your health we are talking about, so why not start with making better decisions on the one thing that can tremendously improve your health– your diet. Also, if you think “diet” is something you “do,” see my article For Dieting Success, Plan.
Avoid the lunch struggle by meal prepping, making the decision to eat healthy when you dine out, and treat fast food restaurants like the plague. Honestly, prepping your lunch from home ensures you will receive the nutrients you need to push through the day, and you may have some time remaining during you lunch break to squeeze in a 15-minute activity! Note, when I say activity, this could be walking the block, getting in a few compound movement bodyweight exercises, or a quick yoga session. Planning your meals can provide time for other beneficial health activities, so why not give this meal planning thing some serious thought, then start.
Late Afternoon Decision: Clocking Out
Ahhh, the day has ended and you can now go home. But should you go straight home after work? For many of my clients, this was the optimal time to head to the gym! There are several people I know who start their day at 5am and hit the gym by 5:30am, and are showered, fed and off to work by 8am. When should you exercise? Your exercise schedule largely depends on the time-of-day you feel you get the most out of your session. Begin to pay close attention to the times you feel great and the times you feel less than optimal, if you notice a pattern, try to stick to the times where you feel the best.
Any of you pressed for time? Yeah, I understand that feeling. How many times have you skipped a workout because you forgot your gym shorts, or shirt, shoes– doesn’t really matter the item, what matters is you skipped the workout. Use time to your advantage and plan ahead. If you struggle exercising after work once you’re home, avoid stopping by your house before the gym by pre-packing your gym-bag. Pack your gym-bag the night before and put it in your car. If your club has lockers, ask to rent one and keep spare clothes and shoes there.
Evening Decision: Dinner
Cook! Seriously, cook your dinner and eat as a family. In truth, this habit will bring you closer to your family, but there are a few other benefits from cooking your dinner. For one, you will be eating freshly cooked food packed with vital nutrients. Also, you can chop up a few extra veggies and fruits to help meal prep snacks for the following day! Think about how often we go for the less desirable foods that are readily available as snacks throughout the day; if you have healthy snacks prepped, you are more likely to make better choices when it comes to snacking. Anyway, cook your dinner!
Late Night Decision: Before Sleepy Time
So, you’ve been great all day and now it’s an hour or so before bed time and you are craving a snack. Don’t ruin an entire day of making great decisions by binge eating just before bed. There are a few ways to avoid habits that are counterintuitive to your plan. For example, if you feel slightly hungry, drink a glass of water. Many times people confuse thirst for hunger, which can lead to creating eating habits before bed that hinder progress. Another tip to help you combat late night snacking; brush your teeth not too long after dinner. When you brush your teeth at night, you are telling your brain you are finished eating for the day, and to concentrate on something other than food. Don’t forget, sleep equals recovery, so get a good night’s rest!