How many times have you heard someone say, “it’s about making it a lifestyle,” when it comes to dieting? Most of us in the health/fitness profession throw this term “lifestyle” out there when we talk to clients because the term “diet” for most people is so short-term. It’s our way of emphasizing that eating healthy and exercising isn’t about completing a program or following a meal plan for 6-weeks, but instead it’s about finding something you can do FOREVER. . . making it a LIFESTYLE!
Doing a 6-week program or a strict detox/cleanse, and relying on willpower to get you through won’t get you anywhere when it comes to long-term results. These types of programs don’t produce habits that are sustainable forever! Instead they rely solely on willpower until the end, and then for most people, a binge occurs and eating goes right back to the way it was before! This creates a restrict-binge cycle or a yo-yo dieting cycle. . . you’re either “all-in” or “all-out” and that’s not good for your health or your metabolism!
So how do you make something a lifestyle? How does a new way of eating, or a diet, eventually become your new way of life? It’s all about making it a HABIT! A growing body of research has shown that only about 5% of our daily behaviors are done consciously. . . this means a startling 95% of our behaviors are done on autopilot- without thinking we do them automatically. This is good when it comes to certain routines, such as the morning routine. We wake up, get dressed, brush our teeth and go to work without much thought. Another example would be driving a stick shift car. . . learning how to use the clutch and shift takes a lot of thought in the beginning, but after practice, it’s done without thought. It’s automatic, which is a good thing! If we had to think in-depth about tasks such as these, it would take a lot of mental capacity.
While autopilot can be a good thing when it comes to good/positive habits or daily tasks such as driving a car, it can be bad when negative/bad habits become our norm and run on autopilot. For example, if you have started a habit of waking up and drinking a sugar/calorie dense latte from the local coffee shop, skipping your work-out and going straight to work, you have created a few bad habits that are running on autopilot. So how do we stop these bad habits and get into new and better ones?
To create a new habit, we have to practice the positive behavior over-and-over until it becomes our new autopilot mode! This doesn’t happen overnight and can take weeks or even months to become our new norm. When it comes to diet and exercise, the best way to go about creating a new habit is to take it in increments. If you’re not a morning person, making the choice to wake up everyday at 5am to workout probably isn’t realistic, and it won’t stick! Instead, start with the goal of doing 2 or 3 days of early morning workouts until that becomes your habit, then add a day or two, or find a time that works better for you! Same for food. . . if you drink the fancy latte every morning, it’s not realistic to say you’ll stop drinking coffee altogether! Instead, is there a way you can order your latte so it has less sugar, fat and calories? Or commit to drinking black coffee 1-2 days a week and only have your latte 2-3 days a week until you can completely stop.
Habits take time and practice to create. . . thinking you’ll start a restrictive diet for 6-8 weeks or do a 30-day cleanse won’t produce lasting habits! Be realistic, be mindful and create behaviors that you can stick with forever! These will become your new autopilot and when all of your good nutrition and fitness behaviors become your new autopilot, you will be living the lifestyle! This doesn’t mean you can’t ever skip a workout or indulge in a treat, but these instances will be the more rare occasions instead of the daily habits!
What daily habits do you need to improve? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you’re not already on my email list, get there! I send out content on fitness, nutrition and mindset that will help you create better habits! Click HERE to sign up!