Tip #1 - How to eat and exercise correctly
If you want to make this up and coming New Year your best year yet, then it’s important to be prepared. Too often we give something a go but then we revert back to past or previous strategies, which lead to predictable outcomes and, usually, these outcomes are demotivating and undesirable. Our old strategies leave us throwing our arms up in the air in desperation only to give in to the belief that achieving the physique that we want is just too difficult to attain. This leads us to settle for less and we then proceed to finding ways to comfort ourselves, which results in a whole bunch of made up excuses as to why we didn’t manage to succeed.
This year, however, is a different year! It’s time to ditch the old methods and adopt new ones. The goals can stay the same but the strategies to achieve these goals must shift. It’s not about repeating the old defective routines that lead to failure. After all, it was Einstein that said doing the same action over and over again and expecting a different outcome is insanity (or something along those lines…). It’s important to test and apply different strategies and methods that have been proven to work in the past by large numbers of people.
So, in order to test a proven strategy, we must look to what has been effective. Not what one person did that generated results for that specific individual, but methods that have been scientifically proven to work thanks to the results of mass testing on subjects that followed the criteria of the experiments. During one of these experiments, they asked a large group of subjects to keep a food log during a number of months. The requirements were to simply write down a log of the foods they ate during the day.
At first this task wasn’t easy and many people found it difficult to actually log each meal and also found it hard to remain consistent with a daily log, so it took a while to implement. The interesting part of the experiment was that the longer the subjects kept at their logs the more efficient they became at recording and the more feedback they got on their eating habits. After a few months, something interesting began to happen to the majority of the people who began to build this logging habit. Those who managed to maintain a relatively consistent logging habit, after reviewing their food logs, began to notice patterns in their eating habits. They noticed that at specific times of the day they would eat processed foods and began to wonder why this was. The main point was that because they had identified these patterns they could then anticipate and deal with them in advance. For instance, a lot of the subjects who usually ate a processed snack at around 11am (or any other time of day) planned to take in fresh fruit or nuts to replace the unhealthy snacks, others chose to drink water or go for a short 5 minute walk.
By becoming aware of your eating habits you can then take action in changing them for the better. When we’re unaware of what we actually consume it makes it difficult for us to make a difference, and like the famous saying goes “what gets measured gets managed”. If you would like to find out more about the study done concerning this food log experiment you can read the book “The Power Of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. It’s a very interesting book and he explains how habits are actually what cause us to undertake any action that we usually do.
Our main issue is that we get triggered by various cues and this leads us to take specific actions that lead to a specific outcome. For instance, some internal or external factor may trigger in us the need to feel some sort of satisfactory emotion, which may lead us to want to eat a piece of chocolate because of the endorphins it releases, which will then give us a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Or we may have done something wrong at work, which could lead us to think that we may get into some form of trouble with the boss, this will then lead to a feeling of stress that needs to be relieved, which will make some of us reach for a cigarette or a pack of cookies.
By identifying the patterns, you can pin point the specific triggers and change old habits to something new and healthier that will give you the desired outcome. The trick is to find something else that you can do, that will give you the same or similar satisfaction once you’ve completed the action. So for example if at 11am you always eat a highly processed snack, you can simply switch to eating a piece of fruit which will give you similar if not the same satisfaction and will also do you a lot more good. If you feel stressed, instead of smoking you could go for a walk, drink a glass of water or vent to a friend. These actions will also make you feel good and will satisfy the urge you were trying to fulfil.
What a log allows you to do is identify your negative patterns, interrupt them and remould yourself to whatever shape you desire. The only real question is, do you want it badly enough? Are you willing to try this simple and effective scientifically proven method for the month of January (or any other month you choose to start it)? This one hack will change your life because once you have a log to look back on, it will tell no lies, that is if you have stayed truthful to your logging! If you go the extra step and log your physical activity as well, you’ll have the whole package. Writing down the times you eat and exercise will give you a clear idea on how you’re progressing and how you can improve.
I personally use this method although now I am no longer as strict as I once was when I was building the habit. I tested it out for three months (don’t worry, one is enough to reap the amazing benefits) so that I could have a clear idea of the whole concept and what it could bring me, and the results were amazing! The main thing the log brought me was awareness. I became aware of everything I ate. So if my goal was to lose weight, then I would know exactly why I was succeeding or failing. By logging the random chocolate bar or ready meal you ate one day you can figure out why your results may have been stagnating. When you can reflect on your dietary decisions and figure out what you can do in the future to improve them, you give yourself a massive advantage because you can actually plan for your success!
Take up the challenge and give this life changing habit a go. One month will change your life and you’ll have recorded the very first month that you decided to take charge and change your life forever. You’ll have crystalised your actions and you’ll be keeping yourself accountable for your own actions because you’ll have records!
Grab yourself a small journal that you can carry around with you and begin logging. Anything will do and you don’t have to be too fancy, just as long as you can log 30 days worth in it. The best way to log is before you actually eat a food. Write down the time and food that was consumed for that specific day (same goes for physical activity).
Review each week to see what improvements can be made. If you review each day, your results will be a lot better because you will be managing your progress on a daily basis!