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Today we’re going to talk about habits. We’ve touched on this topic frequently because it’s important, not only to life in general, but specifically in this instance to fitness and nutrition. Nearly every single thing you do in your life is in part, or a full on habit. A few episodes ago I gave the example of backing out of your driveway. This is a 27 step process that you don’t even think about because you do it basically the same way every single time…. meaning, it’s a habit.

Habits are tough, because we literally do them without thinking, like all the time… so tackling changing some habits is going to require a little work on your part, but the new habits stick pretty quickly when you can pinpoint what needs to be changed and how you need to do it.

KNOWING WHAT YOUR HABIT LOOP IS

  1. Every habit you have, knowingly or not, has a habit loop. Understanding and figuring out what these are is super important to changing and shifting habits.
    • The habit loop begins with a cue and is followed by a routine that leads to a reward. This may sound overly simple, but that’s how all habits work.
  2. This is where it gets tricky. So how do you figure out HOW to change a habit? Figure out what the “problem” behavior is, and write it down. Put it somewhere you can reference it, like notepad on your phone.
    • Cutting down on soda was probably the hardest habit to change, caffeine is life, I love it. Always have, always will. So, how do I keep myself from drinking fifteen Pepsis a day? Don’t keep it in the house, for starters.
    • I also keep plenty of filtered water and iced tea around when I am wanting something cold or caffeinated… personally, if there’s iced tea in the fridge, I will reach for that every time, and I don’t crave the soda anymore after I get the dose of caffeine my body is looking for.
  3. If you want to change a bad habit, you have to pay attention to and figure out what your cues and rewards are. Once you know what the cues and rewards are for these habits, changing them is a lot more simple. All you have to do is change the routine.
    • Example for myself: craving junk food, and a LOT of it and then binging on it. The cue for me was and is anger or stress. The reward was the sugar rush. Writing these things down helped me realize it was that simple. Now, when I feel anger or stress, I go do something active, usually a walk or simply ANYTHING that isn’t in the kitchen, and that craving goes away pretty much immediately.
    • Another example would be checking my phone.
  4. If you’re an oral fixation kinda person, changing these habits is really tough… chew gum, eat a mint, or like Sausha said, take a walk to crush the craving or urge.
  5. And this has been the “boring” part of this episode! There is a lot more information on the habit loop online and in the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, you can find it in our Amazon store at Meathead Test Kitchen dot com

STARTING SMOLE

  1. We’ve talked a lot about the things we don’t recommend you do and maybe not enough time on focusing on the small things that you ARE doing.
    • It takes 30 days of repeating behavior in order for it to become a habit. A habit is what you do. So, saying that, if you start today and keep moving your body for 30 days over and over, it just becomes what you do.
    • Don’t believe us, give it a try, and I bet after week three, your brain will start subconsciously cueing you to go get a workout in.
    • A lot of times, that’s easier said than done, and that’s usually because people bite off more than they can chew. I WANT WORKOUT 7 DAYS A WEEK AND LOSE 30 LBS IN 2 MONTHS!! That sounds wonderful and all… but what are you ACTUALLY doing. Wanting to and actually doing are not the same thing.
    • This is where journaling is important. If you write it down, it’ll be there to reference, if you are having a hard time figuring out your activity level, literally write down your start and end times of workouts so you know exactly where you’re at.
  2. Any calculator you fill out to find your TDEE as we talked about all the way back in episode 2 or 3… asks you to fill out your weekly movement. A lot of people fill this out incorrectly because they fill out what they PLAN to do but not what they are actually, currently doing. Be honest with yourself from the get go. Are you actually doing nothing now? Then you enter that. That’s ok! That doesn’t mean that’s where you’re going to be! That means that’s where you currently are. But, being honest with yourself is going to get you miles closer to your goals. Being humble will set you up for success.
    • If you’re not sure where you line up on the activity chart and you don’t have enough journal info yet, go with the lower end and adjust after 5-7 days if you feel you aren’t getting enough food and your workouts aren’t great. You need a caloric deficit but you don’t want to starve yourself.
  3. By focusing on the smole things that you’re changing, you’re setting yourself up for success in the long run. The small things start the snowball, you can’t have a snowball without snowflakes.
    • Start by doing three smaller things that will lead you to your goal. Start tracking everything you eat. Don’t worry right now about how many calories you’re eating or what your macros are, just track every single thing you put in your mouth, for three weeks. If you’re currently doing nothing in terms of moving your body, start with a walk around the block every night (it takes 5 minutes, anyone can do anything for five minutes). Start with at least one meal that includes all one ingredient ingredients (a lean protein, a carb and a fat).
    • If you need help tracking your meals and workouts, hit our website for meal planning and training journal pages. Type “template” in the search bar.
  4. Those three things are sustainable things that you can start doing. They’re good snowflakes for your snowball.
    • I say it a lot, but I mean it every time: Give yourself time to be great. Big things take time and effort to make happen, don’t give up on yourself, especially in the beginning when you feel you’re climbing uphill the most.

DISCIPLINE

  1. Sometimes you’re not going to want to even do the smole things. That’s when discipline comes in. Motivation is fleeting, discipline is another part of building habits. Discipline takes over when you DON’T WANT TO. And everyone finds themselves not wanting to continue executing their goals at some point. We’re human. Shit happens. WHEN that happens, you have to dig in and find your grit.
    • What is grit? Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. This kind of passion is not about intense emotions or infatuation. Grit is life.
  2. I know we have repeated this a ton, but, do it even when you don’t want to. Are you tired of writing down your food? Do it anyway. Are you tired, is it cold out, are you over walking around the block, do it anyway. Do you want fast food because you’re tired and it’s been a shit day? Eat the healthy meal anyway.
    • Nobody has ever said “Man, I really regret that workout.” Just sayin’.
    • I know that sounds preachy, but sometimes doing it anyway is the only way to find your discipline.

You really can do anything you set your mind to, you just have to be patient enough with yourself to see it all through. To see the snowflakes turn into snowballs and build snowmen out of your progress. No one is perfect. No one is going to be 100 100% of the time, but if you keep trudging forward even when shit isn’t perfect, you’re going to surprise yourself. I can PROMISE you that.

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