It’s been a year. Most of us expected these Covid restrictions to end in the spring, yet here we are faced with what is likely another several months of staying at home. Every year we talk about how great January is to start a new health kick because peer pressure is on point. So many new gym memberships, more people eating at home, dwindling office pastries, etc. If none of this shifts on Jan 1 like we are used to, then maybe we don’t need to shift so abruptly either. Sudden strict diets and vigorous exercise plans are hard to stick to long term. Starting the year with only green smoothies and salads every day is a sure-fire way to ensure your new plans are dead in the water come Valentine’s Day. A romantic date for two with some fancy butter drawn steaks, a couple bottles of wine and a decadent chocolate dessert. Or maybe your style is a solo large meaty pizza and a sixer of IPA while crying over a romantic comedy. Then the next day you are too tired, hungover, and bloated to make it to the gym before work. Death of the resolution in six short weeks.
The Time is Now?
You don’t need a new calendar to reinvent yourself. People with lasting major positive health changes rarely get started because it’s January. Nope, instead it’s something much more personal and emotional. They have a health scare. They lose a loved one. Their relationship ends. Something terrible scares them into health
I Have a Better Plan.
Instead of waiting for NYE 2021 or for something to scare you into a massive health kick, I encourage you to just make steps in the right direction. For some the
first step might be big, for others it is really small. If you really want to make lasting change, create changes that are SUSTAINABLE.
What Are These “Baby Steps” You Speak Of?
Rarely are any of our choices neutral. Think of a choice that you made that could have been better.
Tonight I am watching football and ordering a pizza. I don’t want to bother with cooking.
This week I ate fast food lunch out all five days I was at work.
Last night I stayed up late watching TV and was too tired to get up and workout.
I eat healthy all week but, on the weekends, really let myself go.
Most nights I eat sugary snacks after dinner. I’m not even hungry, but they taste good.
Some small steps in the right direction:
Tonight my family is making homemade pizzas together while we watch football.
This week I am only going to eat fast food twice per week at lunch. The other days I will bring homemade dinner leftovers.
Tonight I will watch only one hour of TV so I can get a good night’s sleep and workout tomorrow.
This weekend I am going to avoid fried foods while dining out.
At dinner I will eat two fistfuls of filling vegetables. For dessert I’ll roast some fresh fruit instead of eating store bought cookies.
Notice the difference? Instead of telling myself I am going to eat at home all weekend, bring all of my lunches to work, not watch any TV, workout every morning, etc., I have created positive change that is SUSTAINABLE.
How to Start: Identify Your Worst Habit
Everyone has one. Some are worse than others. Perhaps you still drink soda daily. Eat fast food often? Drink in excess followed by unhealthy food options. Eat sugary sweets late at night while everyone else is asleep? Hate cooking. Don’t eat vegetables. Daily Starbucks? You get the idea. If you start with changing the very worst habit, you’ll make the biggest step towards better health.
How to Take Action in 10 Minutes
Now that you have identified your worst habit, let’s work on what can you do in 10 minutes a day to help prepare you to make positive change. Example: My worst habit is that I skip breakfast which leads me to make unhealthy and hangry lunch choices.
Jot down two healthy breakfast ideas that you like. (Ex: Frittata and oatmeal) and create a grocery list for these items. (Eggs, spinach, bacon, peppers, steel cut oatmeal, blueberries, pecans.)
Wash and cut veggies for tomorrow’s frittata. Prepare enough for several days. Enter the world of food prep… Or buy precut veggies if you are more of a time-over-money kind of problem solver.
Sautee those veggies and crack those eggs. (Baking time doesn’t count. Go take a shower or something!)
Throw some steel cut oatmeal and frozen blueberries in a rice cooker. Bam, 7 minutes left. Go to the gym or walk the dog, return to a fresh and hot breakfast. If you must add sweetener to your oatmeal, try real maple syrup or honey, and stick to a tablespoon. Nut butter is also a tasty topper.
Order a new coffee pot. Save hundreds of dollars a year by not going to Starbucks. $4 per day x 5 days a week x 52 weeks = $1,040. You’re welcome.
After a week of 10-minute habits, you have completely transformed your breakfast. Not only are you cooking at home, but you are eating high quality protein, vegetables at breakfast (gasp!), whole grains, and nutrient dense fruits and nuts. Now that is a home-run breakfast. Benefits include supporting muscle gain and repair, stabilizing blood sugar, and eliminating morning work hanger.
Making Lasting Change
Let’s say you are quite happy with your new breakfast routine and this change has you wondering what else you can do to increase your health. Now that your OLD habit isn’t your worst habit… Something else is now your new worst habit. Example: Now that I am eating a healthy and filling breakfast, I am making better choices at lunch, and have more energy to get to the gym after work most days. Now that is a massive change that started with one 10 minute per day action.
Ongoing goal maintenance
Small changes practiced consistently become new habits over time. Road bumps are part of life, and those who can maintain their new healthy habits know this is just part of the process. There will always be holidays, special events, and vacations. Enjoy that special time with family and friends knowing that a little indulgence is good for the soul.
Certified Nutrition Coach and CrossFit Trainer with over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.