Train your environment and your habits will follow.
With the new year comes new goals. Just about everyone wants to change something about their body—tone up, lose weight, get stronger, eat healthier. Changing how you think is hard. Changing your environment isn’t. By training your environment, your habits follow. Here, 10 strategies that’ll help you you improve your lifestyle and transform your body, no willpower (or gym membership) required!
1. Keep the ice cream, cookies, and chocolates–your trigger foods, out of the house.
Make “laziness” work for you by making it harder and more inconvenient to reach for high-calorie, low-nutrition, easy-to-overeat foods. Make these foods special treats for you AND your little ones.
If you want sweets, you have to go get them. At 9 PM, when the house is finally quiet and proud to have made it through another day of parenting, there are no ‘reward’ food tempting me in the pantry.
- Fit tip: Keep a colorful assortment of dried and fresh fruits around for dessert instead. My go-to treat are these delicious Cacao Coconut Bars.
2. Use a meal plan.
Don’t make fresh decisions every day, or keep meal choices totally open-ended all the time. Instead, make decisions in advance and work from a template.
- Fit tip: Every few days, sketch out the meals you and your family will eat for the next few days. (Your child’s leftover chicken fingers shouldn’t be your dinner.) Check the list daily so you know:
- what to buy at the grocery store;
- what to pre-prep;
- what meal you’ll eat at what time (or when you’re really hungry).
3. Keep chopped, ready-to-eat vegetables in the fridge.
Put them front-and-center so you see them and can get to them easily.
- Fit tip: Pick one day (in my house it’s Sunday) where you wash, peel and chop all your veggies and store then in snack size containers for the week.
4. Keep a batch of cooked grains handy.
Whole grains take time to cook, but if you make a batch on Sunday, you’ll have it in the fridge to use in grain bowls, salads, or a side dish all week long. In my house we eat quinoa two-three times a week. A little sprinkle of olive oil, salt & pepper, and it makes a great base to seasonal roasted / sautéed veggies. Add diced avocado, your favorite nuts or seeds and you have a quick super food dish.
- Fit tip: Make two batches, and portion one out by the cupful to keep in containers in the freezer. Brown rice, or quinoa reheats nicely in the microwave.
5. Don’t be hungry and in the grocery store at the same time.
Treat grocery shopping like a surgical operation: Have a plan (like your meal list from Tip 2). Get in and get out as efficiently as possible—which I know can be challenging if you have a little ones in tow.
- Fit tip: Focus on the perimeter — the produce, meat, and dairy sections. Don’t even go down the processed food aisles, so you won’t be tempted, and your child doesn’t throw a tantrum because you passed the Oreos. Alternatively, sign-up for a grocery delivery service like Peapod.
6. Keep workout gear in your face.
Have a resistance band, a dumbbell or two, and a mat in your home or office so you’re more tempted to use them. I have a foam roller and a kettlebell laying out in my home office, and use them frequently because I see them out.
- Fit tip: Do “trigger training”: Leave the gear in various places throughout your house, and whenever you pass one of them, do a few reps. Use your infant as a weight (see our Top Exercises for Babywearing Moms). Over the course of the day and week, all the reps will add up quickly without eating up too much time and you’ll feel motivated knowing you got something in.
7. Designate a bag for workout gear & leave your workout clothes out the night before.
Your workout bag should include everything you need for your workout—sneakers, water bottle, mat, headphones, towel, hairbands, etc. It makes it easier to get up for an early morning workout, or hit the gym at the end of the day when everything is prepped and ready to go.
- Fit tip: Keep your workout bag by the door and grab it on the way out. Having your workout clothes out the night before will guarantee you have all the articles you need to complete your workout. If I neglect to do this, I often find myself fumbling around in the dark to find my gear. Not fun.
8. Schedule workouts like you schedule meetings.
Put them on your calendar and treat them like any other appointment.
- Fit tip: Put workouts on your family calendar. It took my husband and I over two years after the boys were born to create a regular workout schedule for the two of us. We split the early weekday mornings between us, and negotiate when necessary to protect our precious workout time.
9. Move social gatherings to parks and gyms.
It doesn’t always have to be a bar or restaurant. Make your next date outside (power walk) or try out a new fitness boutique together (wall climbing, ariel yoga, pilates, etc).
- Fit tip: This goes for professional networking, too. Instead of sitting down at a coffee shop, get coffee to go and have a walking meeting.
10. Turn family and friends into coaches.
To create a supportive environment, be explicit with loved ones that you’re trying to eat better and get fit — and why. They don’t have to participate, but ask them to help and support your goals. (Read how one AMC mom changed her husband’s habits.)
- Fit tip: Involve your family in goal-related activities, such as menu planning, meal prep, and rep counting. Lead by example, your kids will love to do squats and eat veggies just like mom and dad.
By changing your environment you’ll be able to optimize opportunities to eat healthier and lead a more active lifestyle—and ultimately transform your body—no willpower required. Choose 3-4 strategies above and start 2017 on a healthy note. Be the change. Be the best version of you.
Lots of people benefit from extra guidance and support when they’re looking to improve their food choices and physical activity — and get the body they desire most. If that’s you, let Active Moms’ Club provide you guidance and support. Join us for prenatal or postnatal workouts. Our most popular group, goal-based program—our 60-Day Fitness Challenge begins January 14.
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