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Changing how you think is hard!

By training your environment, your habits follow.

Changing how you think is hard. Changing your environment isn’t. By training your environment, your habits follow. Here are strategies from the experts. They’ll help you improve your lifestyle and transform your body, no willpower required.

Research has shown that most of our decisions are automatic, based on patterns and brain shortcuts.

Instead of slowly deciding, step by step, our brains quickly process a handful of grab-n-go inputs and pick from a recognizable menu of options. We ignore stuff we don’t like or want to see, and we’re easily compelled by shiny distractions.

Sound familiar?

Basically, our brains like the thinking version of fast food — go to the place that’s most appealing, speed through the drive-thru, pick the favorite combo from the menu, slam the decision, move on to the next choice.

So we don’t actually think much when we think we’re thinking.

We follow patterns, physical cues that bubble beneath our awareness, and what’s around us. That means our environment powerfully shapes our decisions, more than we realize.

For instance:

·        Most of us will eat all that we’re served — no matter how big the portion is. If we’re served a small bag of popcorn, we’ll eat that. If we are served a bucket of popcorn, we’ll eat that. Presumably if we are served a Volkswagen full of popcorn, we’d do our best to finish that off too.

·       We often eat more when we’re multitasking. Ever started snacking while watching TV or playing video games, then found yourself staring at an empty bag or bowl, wondering where it all went? Your attention was elsewhere, so your eating machine just went on autopilot.

·       If we consistently eat bigger portions, bigger portions will seem “normal” and we’ll regularly overeat. Our great-grandparents (who drank 7-ounce soft drinks and ate 4-ounce hamburgers in the 1950s) would be astounded at the 50-ounce Double Gulps and 12-ounce Monster Thickburgers commonplace in the US. We’ve lost our perspective on how much we should really be eating.

Our environment: The foundation of habit.

It’s the opposite of what you might expect.
All the “expert stuff” — adjusting macronutrients, advanced nutrition strategies, etc. — is a very small part.  Think of a pyramid it would be on top. You might not ever even get to it. It’s a “nice to have”.
The base of the pyramid — your foundation — is what surrounds you.

·       Your social environment and culture.
·       Your kitchen.
·       Your grocery habits.
·       Your day-to-day routine.
·       Your people.

In general, when it comes to engineering healthy eating, here’s the golden rule:

1.    Make healthy behaviors convenient.
2.    Make other behaviors less convenient.

Some examples:

·       Use smaller plates and cups. Most people eat everything on their plate. Use a smaller plate and you end up eating less naturally.

·       If there’s a food you don’t want to eat, avoid keeping it around. Why risk the temptation? Make it less convenient to eat.

·       Have fresh, healthy whole foods prepared and in plain sight. Veggies and fruits on your kitchen table or counter; that’s a good start.

·       Park your car farther away from where you’re going so you have to walk. Those extra steps add up.

·       Keep your bike ready to go by the front door. Instead of driving, consider biking.

·       Get a dog that needs walking. Even better, one that will chew up your couch as punishment if you don’t take it for a daily spin around the block.

People often try to “work hard” to change their habits because changing how you think and feel is hard.

But why should everything be so hard, all the time? 

There’s no need to white-knuckle the willpower. 

You can actually make change much easier by simply changing your environment.

Harness your brain’s autopilot for the side of good!


By just changing what’s around you in small ways, you can make changes without even thinking about them.

Are you waiting for the “perfect time” to get started????

Many of us wait for the “perfect time” with our health, nutrition, and fitness. But this all-or-nothing thinking — as in, “If I don’t do this perfectly then it’s awful!” — rarely gets us “all”. It usually gets us “nothing”.

Are you waiting for the “perfect time” to start eating better, or exercising, or make a healthy change?

Are you putting off that dream trip, or a new project, or that skill you’ve been meaning to learn?

Do some of these phrases sound familiar:

When I get a different job.
When things are less busy.
When I find a workout partner.
When I find the right equipment.
When I feel less awkward in the gym.
When I lose 20 lbs.
When I get the right workout routine.
When my fridge is full of the right foods.

Tomorrow. Next week. Never.
Human beings are always “waiting for the perfect time”. But why?

For many, it’s a great distraction and justification. It helps us avoid the real—and risky—work of doing.

For others, perfectionism and avoidance serve as strong armor against potential embarrassment, criticism, and failure.
I could ___ but ___” keeps us safe from pain.  Unfortunately, it’s also what keeps us from growing, thriving, and being who we know we have the potential to be.

That’s why all-or-nothing thinkingIf I don’t do this perfectly then it’s worthlessrarely gets us “all”.
It usually gets us “nothing”.

There is no perfect time. There never will be.

 

Oh sure, there might be some magic moment in your fitness journey where the universe comes together… and you’re wearing your favorite t-shirt… plus your extra-comfy sneakers… and that song you love comes on… and your body is full of exuberant, bubbling energy… and your favorite piece of gym equipment is free (in fact the gym is empty today, hooray!)… and you bang out a set of ten reps like the angels are hoisting the barbell for you.


But that magic moment will be one in the zillion other less-magic moments that make up your real life.  Yes, celebrate that perfect moment when it comes. But sure as heck don’t wait for it.

Take your moments. Make your moments.


Just so you know, nobody is going to give you any moments. You have to take moments.
Hunt them. Chase them. Make them happen. Scratch and gouge moments out of other times. Chip off tiny flakes of moments from the monolith of your day. Use your teeth if you must—bite off mouthfuls of those moments. You are holding the chisel and the pickaxe. You are the miner of your moments.  This frustrates us, of course.

It shouldn’t be this way, we think. Everyone else’s moments just… come to them. Everyone else has enough time. Enough money. Enough motivation. Enough information.

But it is this way. For everyone.  This is how it is, with moments. Moments resist expectations like water resists the intrusion of oil. However, there is a perfect moment. There is actually always a perfect moment.

That perfect moment is now.
Here. Today. The living, breathing sliver of time that you have in this precise second. Because that is all you ever have: right now.

Just start. At the beginning.


Here is another secret. You don’t have to actually work to get to the next moment.  All you have to do is start. And then, moments will keep moving, as moments do. One moment will stack on top of another and before you know it, you’ll have arrived at your destination.

“But I can’t!” You say. “I can’t get started! That is the problem, you see!” No, it’s not. If you can’t get started, you’re just jumping too far ahead.

As long as something is moving, that’s a start.

Push through. Embrace resistance.

Many people who are just starting out assume that because they feel resistance, they have failed. That because broccoli tastes bitter when they first try it, and because they accidentally overcook it, they just can’t eat vegetables. That because they forget the printed list of exercises on the kitchen table, they can’t work out once they get to the gym. That because their legs ache on the ascent, they are not ready to climb that hill.  No. That’s just how it feels sometimes. Starting will often feel like resistance, at least at first. Like grinding the brain’s gears. Give it time. Resist the urge to press pause. Push through. It will switch tracks, eventually.
Remember: 

-You don’t have to fight the resistance of the entire trip.
-You just have to push through the resistance of the first few moments.

Get support. For now.

In order for a rocket to leave the earth, it has to fire extra-hard against gravity. It needs a boost. In order for a heavy train to get moving, it might need an extra engine. We can start—and stay moving—on our own. But it sure helps when someone gives us a push or a pull. Someone who can call us on our procrastination and perfection. On our information-cruising and waffling.
Someone who can snap us out of our all-or-nothing trance with a gentle nudge and reminder. For a while, we can even affix ourselves to this someone or something else, like hooking that extra engine to our front. As we go along, we can unhook superfluous cars that we realize are weighing us down. We grow lighter, leaner, more mobile. Eventually, we don’t need that extra engine any more. Our train is now whizzing along just fine on its own. The scenery blurs past the windows and we are heading on a grand adventure.
But in the beginning, we had to start.

What to do NEXT!!!
If you’re still “waiting for the perfect time”, try these tips to help you stop feeling stuck and start taking action.

1. Revise your expectations.

Recognize that there is no perfect time and there never will be.
There is only now.

2. Carve out time, even if it’s imperfect.

Nobody will give that time to you. You’ll need to take it. Give yourself permission to make yourself — and your fitness and health goals — a priority.
Find the time you need in your schedule. Don’t have time for an hour-long workout? No problem. How much time do you have? 20 minutes? 10 minutes? Work with what you’ve got. Don’t expect things to go perfectly smoothly. Instead, anticipate and strategize. Ask yourself:
·        What’s likely to get in the way of what I hope to accomplish?
·        What is something I can do today to help me keep going when I face those obstacles?
Instead of waiting for things to ‘slow down’, start making something happen right now, in the middle of the mess.

3. Just start.

If you feel stuck, just do something. Anything.
Find the smallest possible thing you can do right now, in the next 5 minutes, and do it. Now you’ve started!
When Coaching, I try to remind clients to “just do the next thing”. Instead of coming up with the biggest, grandest scheme, think about what you could do next to help move yourself — even just a tiny bit — in the direction of your goals. Then, go do it. Remember: action is a “vote” in favor of a different, healthier, fitter life. Vote early, vote often.

4. Expect resistance.

It’s normal. Push through it. Resistance doesn’t mean this won’t work. It just means you’ve started.  You only have to get through this moment. This moment of starting will be the hardest. Luckily, it won’t last long.

5. Get support.

Let go of the concept of the lone hero. Instead, start building your support systems. Whether it’s a friend or family member, workout buddy, or a coach, find someone to fire up your booster rockets until you can fly on your own.

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.
That’s why I work closely with clients to help them gain energy, get stronger, and improve their healthno matter what challenges they’re dealing with.

Please Pass thing along to anyone you know needing that motivational boost to JUST GET STARTED!

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