Your daily habits and routines help create the success of your fitness journey. When you are starting a new habit, it can be tricky to keep it going long enough for it to stick on the long term. Thankfully, we can easily influence how new habits and routines can become part of our regular lives.
We influence them by modifying our daily environment to remind us they are there. The two main environments that you frequent every day are your home and your workplace. With the recent pandemic, you might be working from home, which actually makes it a little easier since there is only one environment. Let’s take a look at what you could do.
Organizing your home
The two main routines you should optimize in your home are nutrition and sleep. If you want to form a new habit easily, you have to make it easily accessible and very visible.
It's easy to forget to drink enough water throughout the day. I am guilty of this very often. Simply putting water bottles throughout your place is a very easy way to remind you to drink more often. One in the kitchen, one on the bedside table and one by your desk and you'll never forget to drink.
Another easy trick is to get a big water bottle, 3-4 litres, fill it up in the morning and drinking it before the day is over. Although if you're like me you might lose the bottle during the day...
How you arrange the food in your kitchen will play a big role on how often you actually eat those foods. The biggest issue I have is buying a ton of spinach, putting it in the lower drawer of my fridge, forgetting about it and letting it rot down there.
Now, I put the spinach in the top rack, which happens to be at eye level, and now it gets eaten more often. Moving the spinach from somewhere I didn’t see it to a place where it was easy for me to see made all the difference.
When it comes to unhealthy foods, I prefer to not have them in my house at all because I have the self control of a turtle. When I buy Nutella or ice cream, they rarely last more than a day in my house because I just can't help myself. So to avoid eating them I don't buy them often.
The way we eat has a huge impact on our happiness, which is why I always make sure that I can eat all of the foods that I love, and you should to. My general rule for my cheat meals is to have them outside my place, like when I go on date night or go out with friends. The reason for that is that if I have the ingredients to make cheat meals in my kitchen, I will make those meals. all. the. time. I have zero self control when it comes to food so I make sure that all the food that is in my fridge or pantry is healthy(ish).
We want to make good habits easily accessible and visible. So the reverse is true for habits we are trying to limit.
Side note on self control
Self control is a short term solution. You can't have self control forever. Set up your environments so you don't have to use it.
Meal prep on auto pilot
The following trick is a habit I formed for meal prepping. After each grocery run, I immediately chop up the veggies. If I don’t chop the veggies right away, I won’t do it later because I won’t have time.
I started this habit by saying “When I walk through the door after grocery shopping, I put the veggies on the table, chop them up and store them in tupperwares”
Now, whenever I look in my fridge, there are pre cut veggies ready to go. If they aren’t pre chopped, the odds of me eating them decreases a lot.
While I chop up all the veggies I cook rice/quinoa at the same time. That way, after 20-30 minutes, I have all my veggies cut, and a huge reserve of rice that is ready to get heated up for my meals.
Sleep is another component of a happy and healthy life that most people neglect. We all know that we need around 8 hours of sleep each night but most of us don’t. Why?
We have busy lives I know, but most of us do have the time to sleep 8 hours. It’s a matter of priorities and distractions. We often let our distractions (mainly screens, like phones, computers and TV) take over our priorities like sleep.
Thankfully, we can set up our home a certain way to minimize these.
For starters, you can actually invest in an alarm clock and leave ALL of you screens outside your room. That way you won’t be tempted to answer texts or brows social media after you set your alarm on your phone. This will create a no screen zone in your room that will help you sleep better. My phone hasn't been in my bedroom for years now, and I love that.
Having a "no screen" time after a certain time also helps falling asleep faster. Set a time like 9 or 10pm after which you do not watch TV, work on the computer or browse social media.
Getting stuck watching episode after episode on Netflix? TURN OFF auto play!
Go to "account" on the top left corner, click on "playback settings" and turn off "auto-play". Netflix makes more money the more you watch so they automatically switch this feature on. Sometimes the time between episodes is instantaneous, so we just sit there and say "ok just one more" for hours on end.
Note: some people need less than 8 hours each night and that's fine, as long as it's your natural way of sleeping and you don't get tired throughout the day because of it.
Preparing your morning the night before is an easy trick to help you start your day better. If you eat breakfast first thing in the morning, have all the ingredients front and center in your fridge. When I want to have oatmeal, I take out the pot and put it on the table with the oats right beside them the night before. That way when I wake up, all I have to do is pour the oats in the pot. I also prep all my coffee stuff: take the grinder out, put the beans beside the grinder etc.
Lastly, I take all the cloths I'll be wearing the following day out and put them on my dresser, so when I wake up, everything is ready for me.
This makes my morning way easier, but it also gives me a good pre bed routine, which helps me go to sleep a little easier.
Your work space
You can make subtle changes to your workspace that will help you stay healthier without bothering your coworkers.
Always keep a reusable water bottle at the office/work. Do not bring it home. That is your work water bottle, try to fill it up at least twice throughout the day.
Bring your own food. The number one problem I hear about work food is that it’s not healthy. The easy way to avoid that is to bring your own food.
That isn’t to say you cant enjoy the office food now and then, but at least most of the food you eat at work will be home made.
Keep healthy snacks at work. Whether it’s nuts, home made protein bars, or fruits you bring in every other day, have something you can nibble on in case of emergency.
Keep a spare gym outfit at work in case you forget yours at home. Put in a a desk drawer, your locker, the back seat of your car or some other place and never miss a workout again because "you forgot your shorts".
These examples are only a fraction of what you can do. We all have different habits and routines according to our lifestyle and preferences, it’s important for you to find the ones that work for you.
Success, in fitness in other areas can be attained quicker when we prepare for it. Immersing yourself in an environment that drives you daily towards your goals will help you greatly.