Everything! Let me explain…

Habit change can be difficult. Don’t you agree?

It isn’t the knowing what to do OR knowing what the better choice is. I’m certain we all know to be healthy we need to eat healthy and move our bodies on a regular basis, right?

So, it’s really hard for me to believe it is black and white… That is all comes down to “just make the right decision every time.” Over the years I’ve coached countless men and women and have noticed a reoccurring theme.

They all knew what to do. That is, they all knew what they thought they should be doing.

If you’ve been with me for a while you know I’m not a fan of the all-or-nothing mindset that we tend to have in the health and fitness industry. There tends to be a thought that if we are making changes it has to be the all in method, and that works for some and in some instances… BUT for the most part, it only causes unneeded stress.

It takes time and lots of energy to change a habit we have had for weeks, months and even years. We need to be smart about our approach, our time and our energy in order to be successful.

Let me explain a little more.

Think back to when you first learned to ride a bike…

Can you imagine it?

There you are a determined child excited and focused. You could spend hours and even days practicing. You’d fall and get back up time after time frustrated, but nonetheless determined.

You stand your bike back up and swing your leg back over the seat, fully aware of how sturdy your feet feel on the pedals. The handle bar secure in your grasp as you tighten your grip hopeful this time you would stay up… You push your left foot towards the ground as your right hand grips the handle tightly steadying yourself anticipating your next move.

The amount of energy we put into thinking through every second is impressive.

Pedal, grip, balance, pedal, hold tight, steer, pedal, balance, etc.

Until one day, it clicked. All the practice you had been doing came together. You could ride your bike without thinking of ALL the things that needed done.

How?

 

Practice. Practice until it becomes AUTOMATED.

You might not have realized it, but as you practiced riding you tackled small skills one by one. You practiced placing your feet on the pedals. You practiced how to pedal. You practiced steering, grip and balance. Before you knew it you were riding your bike on autopilot.

What does learning how to ride a bike have to do with healthy habits?

Everything.

I believe we approach how we tackle healthy habits all wrong. We look at it strictly as a time and willpower thing when it isn’t that at all. Think about the last time you started a new diet or workout regime. You devoted your time and gave all your willpower only to feel as if you failed.

But, the thing is… we’ve set ourselves up for failure right from the beginning because we didn’t account for the most important part of the process…our energy. We put so much energy into a new skill that it drains us of the energy we need to do our normal daily routine. We are exhausted and eventually something has to give and that my friends, is usually where we throw our goals out the window feeling defeated.

Learning to ride a bike is a new skill, just as learning to make a healthier choice is a new skill. There is an immense amount of mental energy that goes into changing something we are comfortable with and have been doing for months or even years…because even if the habit is undesirable, it is what we currently have on autopilot. To change this means every new action requires a thought. That thought requires both the energy needed to think in a new way AND the energy needed to act in a new way. This is why simply allowing ourselves time and throwing all our willpower at a new diet or workout regime doesn’t work.

Try my approach instead.

  1. Pick one healthy habit to work on at a time. This ensures you will have the energy needed to make a healthy change AND continue to live your life without draining your energy.
  2. Write down why you want to change and what it would mean to you.
  3. Make it a priority. Here is where you give yourself time needed and use your willpower when tempted to revert back to the old automated (and undesirable) habit.
  4. Become AWARE of the energy it takes to make this happen and be honest with yourself about it. It will take work, but you CAN do this.
  5. Be intentional. Put intentional energy into setting yourself up for success. (Carve out extra time for your workout, wake up early if needed, pack your lunch if it helps, have a healthy snack in your gym bag or purse or car or at your desk… wherever you might need it.)
  6. When you start to doubt yourself, review #2.

Remember your approach to your goals is very important and directly related to sustainability and success. It’s my job as a personal trainer and nutrition coach to help you approach your goals in the best way possible. I’m excited to see how you succeed now that you know your energy is priority. Let us know how you are doing! Leave a comment for me and tell me how this advice has transformed your approach and success.