“The greater the friction, the less likely the habit.”
Having the correct information is just half the game when it comes to reaching your health & fitness goals. You also must have habits and systems in place that allow you to consistently implement that information. It’s good to know that a mid-morning protein shake is a healthy snack, but if you always forget to bring your protein powder to work, it’s not going to matter. That’s where priming your environment comes into play. By priming our environment we make it easier to do the right things. Here are 5 simple environment changes you can make now.
1) Water intake
To develop the habit of having water each morning. Fill up a glass of water immediately after brushing your teeth and put it by your bathroom sink. You’ll be going to the bathroom every morning anyways, so when you wake up and the water is right there, that’s your cue to make action. If you have something like a Yeti that’s even better, fill it with ice water and it’ll still be fresh in the morning.
2) Workout consistency
Schedule your workouts in your calendar. This is an example of changing your digital environment. And let's face it, that’s just as important as our actual environment. If you’re struggling with workout consistency, each Sunday take 5 minutes and put in the time, place and activity all in your calendar. Just like if your kids had a soccer game or you had a dentist appointment. Don’t just put “workout” on your daily to-do list, that’s too easy to skip. Literally go into your calendar and put “CrossFit class, 12-1pm Tuesday, alert me 60 minutes before.” Doing this proactively also allows you to adjust your schedule. You’ll see that dentist appointment scheduled for 12pm, so you can plan to do a late-night run instead of your normal 12pm workout.
3) Supplement consistency
I take about 4-5 pills per day. I keep all of my supplements in my closet and without visually seeing them each night it was a 50/50 chance I’d remember. Then I decided to buy a GoStak, that organizes all of my daily supplements. I now place the GoStak on my nightstand and the supplements are right in my face before I go to bed. I’d now say I’m 90+ percent compliant on my supplements from one shift.
4) Hide the junk food
Story time. Trader Joes have these dark chocolate peanut butter cups that I could not say no to. The first time I got them I put them at eye level in the front section of the fridge. Nearly every time I opened up the fridge I would snag a couple. Before meals, after meals, to get coffee creamer, etc. I would eat 5-10 a day, adding a few hundred calories to my intake. I wasn’t thinking about them, but every time I saw them it was a reminder of how delicious they were. The next time I bought them I pledged to put them in the freezer instead of the fridge. I’m not an idiot, I knew they were in the freezer and at any time I could get them. But I wasn’t constantly reminded of them, since I open the freezer maybe once a day. I would now eat 5-10 a week instead of 5-10 a day.
Look around your kitchen, fridge and cabinets. What is visible? It’s fine to have some “junk” in the house, but don’t test your willpower by having it in your face. Put it in the back of the cabinet, off of the countertop, out of your normal sight. For an added bonus, you can also make healthy foods more visible. Put a bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop. If you walk in the kitchen semi-hungry looking for a snack, the fresh fruit is in your face before you can even remember your chocolate in the cabinet.
5) Fridge whiteboard
Have a new healthy meal you’re wanting to try? Purchase a whiteboard for your refrigerator and any time you have an idea, write it down. Each time you walk by you’ll be reminded of the idea and more likely to pull the trigger. This is just like seeing a commercial for a food and suddenly craving it.