My BFF called me the other day and wanted to know when it “clicked.”

She wanted to know when fitness and nutrition became my *lifestyle.*

Knowing me well, she realizes that my lifestyle doesn’t just beautifully accommodate “workouts” and kale each week because I am an expert planner with more willpower than other people.

She wanted to know how these things happen in my everyday routine without hesitation, distraction or extra motivation.

I told her it’s habit.

habit

Habits are greater than willpower, in my opinion.

Take January, for example: in the inspiring month, people have high motivating factors that carry them into the gym, that deter them from putting Doritos in their shopping cart, ordering desert at dinner or eating cake in the employee break room.

However the willpower only endures so long.

There will come a point when one’s willpower cannot talk themself out of what they *usually* do, what they *want* to do and what is *normal* for them.

For example, Saturday is donut day for John Smith. Rain or shine, he eats donuts. Whether his kids or home or not, he eats donuts.

donutday

In January, Smith abstains from donuts, but while he eats bland, unsatisfying cereal, he still *thinks* about donuts and his donut routine Saturday morning.

Then, come February, he yearns for donuts and caves in, because he never fully committed to a new, sustainable habit.

So how do you develop what I call “hard habits” that overcome willpower?

How do you create “hard habits” that become your “normal?”

You have to change your behavior, big time.

You have to make rules for yourself and reprogram your brain.

It is not an easy feat.

Here five examples of ways you can overcome your own willpower & develop new habits.

HabitsChange

1) Know your mission

Don’t *just* pack you gym bag.

Many people urge you to pack your bag the night before. They promise that this will make going to the gym easier in the morning; you won’t have any second thoughts.

I call BS.

I understand laying out your clothes for the gym and packing work clothes, snacks, water etc., but what the heck are you going to do when you get to the gym?

samplew:o

Write down you workout like it is a To-Do list.

 

In order to drag my own booty to the gym every morning in Chicago at 5:00 a.m., I made a list.

I literally had to write out each step of the program I was on so that when I woke up I was not only ON A MISSION… I KNEW MY MISSION.

Even though the workout was on my phone, I would still write it on a slip of paper and put it on my kitchen counter next to my pre-workout. Then, first thing in the morning I would see my workout to-do list.

Your takeaway: If you are going to pack your gym bag, either write a workout for yourself

-or-

find one online

-or-

go to a gym/studio/strength gym where you *know* a good program will be written for you by a coach.

Take it one step further: going to a group fitness class is a great way to leave the planning and thinking to someone else. But if you really want to see measurable results, find a strength coach who will write you your own individualized program and complete it in a small group setting.

2. Pour a glass

I used to go to the pantry every time a friend called me.

As soon as the phone clung to my ear, my hands wanted to grab a snack and my mouth wanted to chew.

snackinghabit

This was a bad habit. After a phone call, I may have easily consumed 500 calories!

This was not okay.

Therefore I made a rule: every time a friend calls (when I am at home), I will pour myself a glass of water and walk around drinking it while chatting until it is gone.

Not only is this a great way for me to stop snacking, it pushes me to work on my own water consumption.

Let’s say you like to eat, just to eat; you feel semi-hungry but don’t need food when you are bored.

This happens to me, often.

When I get home from teaching night classes I have a desire to snack just because it is comforting to eat before bed if I am exhausted.

Even when I ate dinner before teaching, (three hours earlier), at 10 p.m. I feel the need to eat.

But, usually I do not *need* the calories. Therefore I will snack on a low calorie, filling snack like one of these:

fresca

-Arctic Zero, (a pint of ice cream for 150 calories)

-Sparkling water -or- Fresca

-whey protein blended with a TON of ice cubes and almond milk

-Broth based soup or butternut squash soup if I am cold 

All of the aforementioned are low-cal and very filling.

Your takeaway: identify your own weaknesses, make a strategic plan of attack and work on it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

3. Lay out your vitamins

And pack your snacks. 

By snacks, I mean late-night snacks; but we will get to late-night snacking in a minute.

A few weeks ago I had to lose a significant amount of weight quickly for a powerlifting meet.

While I planned to lose the majority of it by way of cutting water weight, I had to keep my weight between 118-120 pounds consistently for a few weeks.

My regular morning routine usually consists of drinking pre-workort and eating a quest bar before I go lift at 6 a.m.

Six months ago I began eating quest bars before lifting and now I seriously look forward to it.

However, in order to decrease my total caloric intake for the day, I figured cutting out the quest bar before my workout would be the easiest way to decrease my caloric total since I would still be half asleep.

cabinet

But the problem was that the quest bars are not only right in my cabinet where my pre-workout is, my boyfriend eats them every morning and I was not about to make him stop.

I had to develop a new routine.

So, I decided to lay my vitamins and my pre-workout cup (ready to mix) next to my keys the night before.

This way, every morning, as soon as I walked into the kitchen I saw my task at hand: make my drink, take my vitamins and hit the road.

morningstrat

After seven days it was normal for me to not expect a quest bar. But for the first seven days, having a new set of steps to take in the morning helped me shift my focus away from wanting a quest bar.

This strategy can be helpful for late-night eats after the bars as well.

late night

Avoid drunk eating unhealthy foods by packing a quest bar (or snack)  in your purse or pocket.

For example, last Saturday I skipped my afternoon snack, and put it in my purse.

I was planning on going out to celebrate a good friend’s birthday. Even though I didn’t expect to be out late, I knew by 11 p.m. or later I was going to start to feel hungry (and a martini would only make me hungrier).

snackstrat

But, armed with a quest bar, I felt infallible because I knew as soon as I got hungry I had a protein-packed snack on hand, which I could absolutely eat during the cab ride home.

This is a good way to avoid ordering bar food with your friends or going to a late-night food stand.

kitchenlate

If I have a smaller purse, I will leave the banana or quest bar out on the counter so when I get home it is the first thing I see.

This way I never have a “whoopsies” in my diet; never do I feel guilty; eating my quest bar late at night feels like a strategically planned meal I am excited to eat.

After a few times of practicing this strategy, you will be used to coming home and eating this. Boom! New habit.

Your Takeaway:  Whether it is cutting out an early morning snack to strategically make it a late-night snack (to avoid drunk eating), come up with a plan and practice it. Make sure it fits in with your overarching nutrition strategy and has easy steps, so you can sustain it over time.

4. Find a new “usual”

This strategy was an integral part of achieving a lower body fat when I lived in Chicago.

I freaking love going out to eat in Chi-town and not only that, but I frequented a few places far too often.

chitowndindin

When I first moved there permanently (I had previously interned there) I began taking my friends to my favorite pizza place. They all knew my usual was the Bianca pizza. The Bianca has an incredible white sauce, three types of cheese and can be gluten free.

dindin2

However, I soon began working on getting leaner and arbitrarily chose a new usual, the Heart Smart pizza.

I took a few different friends there and declared that the Heart Smart pizza, with dairy-free cheese and chicken, was my usual order. I also began to order my salad with dressing on the side.

From that point on, those friends thought that was my usual and so did I.

Then, I knew I could eat the Heart Smart pizza and feel full, happy and delighted every time while eating less total calories.

SushiGenkiYa

I did the same thing with a sushi place I love.

Even though I have tried everything on the menu, I have a usual: it’s low cal, filling and my all time go-to order.

Therefore, if I plan to go there, it is for THAT meal only.

Your takeaway: you do not have to avoid places that you frequent, (even if the place has mainly fried foods).

Make it your regular order to split a burger, or save half for later.

Schematize a restaurant in your brain by the go-to meal that is extraordinarily healthy. You *will* feel less apprehensive about going out. Before long, it will be your lifestyle to eat the dish with fewer calories and enjoy it thoroughly (guilt-free).

5. Be vocal about your “usual”

Even if it’s a new usual, tell people it’s your old-time thing.

Fake it ’til you make it.

This is easier to do with new friends at a familiar restaurant.

However, even if you and your BFF have gone to a deep dish pizza place for eight years, tell her it is your new usual and don’t stop going.

Go twice a week and get the salad with a slice of thin-crust pizza.

Go as often as you need to until all you can think about is the meal that is fewer calories.

pizza

If you try and change your order in front of a good friend without telling them about your new usual,  it *will* be more difficult because they will lead the conversation.

They may ask, “Why aren’t you getting the usual?” Or, “Why are you not eating?”

“Are you not hungry?”

The thing is, if YOU lead the convo by saying, “Hey I am trying to make some big changes and I am going to start getting this instead,” then *boom* no more tricky questions, and now you have accountability!

Chances are, you may even inspire your friend.

If you don’t  inspire them, or worse, they discourage you, just pick a new friend to take to that pizza place.

Accountability matters.

I have a client who told her boyfriend about her twelve week nutrition program with me. Twice now, she has been at birthday parties and wanted a piece of cake.

cake

The first time, he warned her that he didn’t think she should have cake. But, she was so used to eating cake with him, she dismissed his encouraging words.

She felt bad and hated that she had gone against what he said.

However the second time she saw cake, all she could remember was him, telling her not to eat it (even though it only happen once before). She chose to forgo the cake and said that his words were the biggest help.

Wrapping up

Again, accountability matters.

Some people are in fact able to start off a new year and make sustainable changes. They are successful because they COMMIT to changing their behaviors.

  •  They put their old routines out of their mind.
  •  They create new habits.
  • They change behavior AND talk about it.
  • They admit to others the change and see themselves through it.

Willpower will get you started, but the behaviors you change through new habit creation KEEP you there, and it “clicks.”

#daretomove

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