Why adopt the try-hard approach to healthy habits, when there’s an easy way, asks nutritionist Claire Turnbull.
So, you want to get in better shape, have more energy, or eat healthier food. Changing a few habits can make a big difference.
You know you need to eat better, be more active and have better quality sleep, but do you do it? No, it’s quite another thing to make it actually happen.
We usually rely on willpower to make healthy changes in our lives, but it rarely works. Willpower is a muscle that can wear out by the end of the day. The ‘try-hard’ approach to wellbeing is very tricky to maintain.
So what’s a better approach? Make it easy to make the healthier choice.
People who are naturally slim and fit don’t have to try hard or force themselves to make good choices, they do it because it’s their default. Essentially, it’s automatic for them.
Here’s how to make healthy choices easy and routine.
1. Identify unhealthy habits
Rely too much on coffee to function?
Identify each of the habits you feel you need to change and, without judging yourself, look at why you’re doing them.
If coffee overload is your thing, look at how you use coffee to help you. Why do you need it so much? You’re probably tired and needing energy, right? So, what else can help boost your energy and be more productive other than coffee?
Five minutes of fresh air will expose your eyes to daylight and suppress melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy.
Or take a quick run up and down the stairs – moving your body works.
Then opt for water and a decaf, and head back to your desk. Repeat until this becomes your new default, and try applying this principle to all your unhelpful habits.
2. Create easy healthy habits
If you’re aiming to go to the gym before work, make it easy. Get your gym gear out the night before, right by your bed – so it’s easy to get dressed and go.
Need more water? Fill up three water bottles every night after dinner, so they’re chilled and at the front of the fridge ready to go in the morning.
Need to eat more vegetables? When you’re making dinner, chop up extra vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber and capsicum, and put them into a transparent container at the front of your fridge. When you open the fridge door, they’ll be the first thing you see and the easiest thing to eat.
Put your biscuits in a non-transparent container, out of reach in the pantry, so you need a chair to get them. This works well for alcohol too.
If your goal is to be alcohol-free on weeknights, store beer and wine at room temperature in the garage. Have sparkling water ready to go in your fridge door rack.
3. Take it slow
Slow and steady wins the race. If you want to make lasting changes, don’t rush change.
Address just one or two habits at a time, and when you find the new behaviour happens without any conscious thought, then move onto your next goal.
First published 27 June, 2018
Story by Claire Turnbull
Claire Turnbull is a qualified nutritionist with over 14 years’ experience. She is a professional speaker, owner of the nutrition practice and corporate wellness business Mission Nutrition and the author of two best-selling books. She also regularly features on TV and radio.
JUNO does not contain financial advice as defined by the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Consult a suitably qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that JUNO considers accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.