What if one small change you make right now that could put you on a path to better performance, health or wellness?
To get those motivational juices flowing during the busiest time of the year, here’s a fun challenge we are encouraging everyone at Elevate to take: Pick something you want to make a habit perform it daily for 21 days.
That’s it. ONE SMALL CHANGE. EVERY DAY.
To make it easier, we’ll be tracking members’ success on a special display.
Here’s how it works:
1) Pick the habit you want to build, write it down and post it on the board the week of Dec. 12. (Supplies will be available at the front desk.)
2) Note your success (performing your habit 6 out of 7 days) by writing “YES” on a sticky note and posting it on the board every time you come into Elevate.
3) If you want to share your goal and your success on social media, use the hashtags #elevateyourhabits and #elevatephw anytime during those 21 days.
There will also be room on the board for you share a motivational quote, kudos or give yourself a high five.
Check the board and Elevate’s social media feed daily for inspiration and motivation.
We’ll be tracking the boards progress here and on social media.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle
Think about it. One recent suggested that up to 40 percent of our life operates on “autopilot.” Another study found that up to 90 percent of our daily food decisions are automatic. You know, habit.
It makes sense when you understand how the brain works:
- It is event-driven (meaning it responds to an event — your stomach growls, you look for food)
- It has a priority system for responding to the event. (Unfortunately, grabbing the closest bag of chips is a higher priority to the brain than the complex task of cooking a healthy meal)
But wait, you say, aren’t we smarter than — ooh, a squirrel
We don’t ALWAYS run on autopilot. The conscious brain does make decisions. It’s just that the brain is optimized for energy efficiency (read that — it will take the automated action in a heartbeat. The chips, remember?)
Your conscious brain tells you to eat your veggies because it can see the long-term benefits are greater than the short-term gratification of eating the aforementioned chips.
But that consciousness takes a lot of energy.
When you’re tired, stressed, hungry, distracted, hungover, hormonal, angry or a host of other things any action that requires a conscious decision will be dropped faster than your blood sugar after a a soda binge.
The fix — habits
By using a “trigger” we can add a new “event, ” ie habit.
Also called implementation intentions, this strategy involves picking a point in your regular schedule and building another “link in the chain” with a new habit.
For example, if your intention is to get in the habit of drinking more water you could use brushing your teeth as the trigger — set a glass by your toothbrush and drink a glass of water before you brush.
Here’s some tips to help you start building those relationships — and new habits.
The step many people skip when they decide to start a new habit is they don’t answer their WHY. It may seem like a small detail, but it plays a huge role in keeping our motivation up over time. Make sure you know why you want to do the new thing — and make sure it’s meaningful to you.
Setting big goals is exciting, but is more likely to lead to success. Taking small actions tricks your brain. Your brain likes to be on autopilot, remember? You can sneak a small change by it.
Tell a friend — or your coach
Let others know what you’re working on. Not only will that give you someone to be accountable to, it will add a cheering section.
According to a variety of — and outlined in books such as — there is power in boring. Why do you think President Barak Obama only has blue and grey suits in his closet (true story)? “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make too many decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Do some prep work
Put together what you need to ensure success. If you want to cook at home every night, set aside some shopping and prep time so you can walk into the house and start to cook without thinking about it. (Remember the chips??)
Don’t Break the Chain
Before was famous, he of writing new material daily using a wall calendar and a red marker. Every day that he managed to write, he would put a big red “X” on the calendar. He didn’t want to see any blank days that “broke the chain.” #streak.
Use a journal
This can be a great way to spot those “little victories.” Reading past journal entries can be motivational or help you spot stumbling blocks (that you can then fix). And, if you share with your coach, it can solidify communication and create a team bond.
Eliminate “What the Hell”
How many times have you thought you nailed a new habit to wake up one day and notice you weren’t doing it anymore? At that point, you might have said “it’s not worth it.”
A more scientific take on this phenomenon is called the , which explains why we are so likely to abandon ship with a new habit at the first slip-up.
Nip this in the bud by figuring out where things broke down. For example, did you quit flossing because the floss got put into a drawer? Put it on the counter next to your toothbrush and leave it there.
Bottom line: Building habits basically tricks your brain into creating new neural pathways — in other words, they become automatic. Remember, your brain LOVES automatic.
But the real magic is building a series of habits that will lead to a better life — all without thinking about it.
Success leads to success. Change leads to change. Just ask the more than 150 ElevatePHW members who posted a big YES to the #elevateyourhabits board in December.
Here’s a rundown of habits posted:
- Something to do with working out at Elevate — 55
- Personal (playing the trumpet; slow down) — 42
- Nutrition — 55
Our favorite quote:
“Don’t complain about things you’re not willing to change.”
“Make small changes until it sticks.”
If you sailed through the holiday season noshing on goodies people brought to the office or found yourself standing in front of multiple buffet tables in one weekend, (it was fun, right?) you are probably more than ready to shut it down.
“Eating better” most likely crossed your mind as the ball dropped in Times Square to ring in 2017. According to Statistic Brain, “lose weight / healthier eating” is a resolution that was made by about 21 percent of Americans this year. (Statistic Brain: )
But here’s the truth: going cold turkey is not going to work. In fact, research shows that when it comes to goals, extreme change is a motivation killer. Our bodies are hardwired to resist change. Our minds seek the familiar.
If you took the #elevateyourhabits challengebefore the holidays, you may have learned that making one small change consistently leads to change.
And while many think change is all about willpower or motivation, ElevatePHW nutritionist Mike Doran believes one of the biggest drivers of behavior change is environment.
Environment has an incredible ability to shape your behavior and nowhere is this more true than with food.
Overeating is “never about the food,” Doran says. “It’s more likely what’s in front of you.”
For example, he realized that every time he sat down to watch TV, he would over eat. So he stopped watching television. “Change the circumstance around that habit.”
Another tip: Make a small change until it sticks.
“Make it ridiculously easy,” Doran says.
BJ Fogg, Director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford, has done extensive research this topic. uses the effectiveness of tiny, specific habits to create big changes in behavior.
Some of Mike’s other tips:
1: Don’t make any food off limits, but get the junk food out of the house (environment, remember?)
2: Use a simple method of tracking what you eat — taking photos of your meals. This will let you see over time how things are improving.
3: Use the nutrition guide to gauge portions.
4: Plan. This goes for everything from shopping and “what’s for dinner” to having your post-workout snack in your gym bag so you don’t stop by Starbucks for that Frappuccino.
5: Use the “outer ring” strategy when you go to the grocery story. Walk around the outside of the store for your fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, etc. Most processed food is in the middle of the store.
If you would like to talk to Mike about your specific needs when it comes to food, contact the front desk and make an appointment. ElevatePHW nutrition services include single sessions for those athletes needing to fine-tune their fueling, for example, or a 3-month package which includes a variety of assessments and two meetings per month. This is not a diet plan, but an individualized program designed specifically for your needs.