Have you ever heard the saying: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ While this isn’t my personal protein source of choice, I’m sure the macros will be brilliant! But the point here is to break down a big task into smaller chunks, something I’m a huge fan of when it comes to coaching clients to reach their weight loss and fitness goals.
A consistent daily routine for your food and exercise leads to good habits being formed. We have all heard the analogy that it takes 21 days to create a habit and only 3 days to break it, but until we understand why we need habits and what causes us to break our routines, we’ll forever go around in circles not achieving our fitness, health and weight goals.
Why do I need a routine to create and form habits?
“A habit is a subconscious process thats executed in response to outside triggers” [reference?]
Habits are created by our brain to save energy: you do them without even thinking about it. Obviously we all have different habits and some of them help us move forward towards our goals and some hinder our progress. The key is to create positive habits which are sustainable and achievable on a day to day basis. For example, if you create a morning routine with 3-4 tasks, it can help you to get out of the house as quickly as possible, allowing you to wake up a bit later or giving you time to go to the gym.
As a personal trainer, one of my jobs is to encourage my clients to improve their lifestyle and daily routines by offering solutions to their perceived problems. One such problem that I often come across is: “I don’t drink enough water”.
My solution? “Have a pint in the morning on waking, have a pint before bed and always carry around a 2 litre bottle with you during the day. The more you drink from that bottle, the lighter it will be and the easier to carry around with you”. By following this simple routine, without thinking about it, you will consume 3 litres a day.
What causes us to break habits?
Another complaint I hear very often is: “I am good from Monday to Friday, but I mess up at the weekend.”
I find this happens because the weekend signals a change in your daily routine, and most people are simply less prepared to eat healthily and exercise. I recently helped a client who found herself eating rubbish food on weekends. She usually went out drinking on a Friday and would feel terrible the next day as she suffered from horrendous hangovers. So she would eat a takeaway on Saturday for lunch and then go out for dinner on Saturday night. Normally because she had no fresh food in the house by the end of the week and had no motivation to go shopping. She would undo all her good work after just 24 hours. Then on a Sunday she would feel guilty and do a grocery shop for healthy food and be back to square one on Monday morning.
So we changed her habits and got rid of her guilty shopping trip on a Sunday and she began shopping online. We decided that food would be delivered at 11 am Saturday. This forced her to get up, gave her fresh food to eat that day, and which meant she didn’t have the takeaway temptation. We also gave her the choice she could go out for dinner and not drink or stay in and cook, with the caveat that she do a circuit class on Sunday morning when she normally would have gone shopping. These simple changes made a massive impact on her health goals and general wellbeing.
So we begin by creating new habits, which are tough to implement at the start, we preserve, they become automatic and we save energy and time. This allows us to live better, healthier, happy lives.
Put something in place each week, just one thing each week for 6 weeks and see what a benefit it will have on your health.
Smile, train and be healthy