Prioritizing healthy habits can be tough. You know all the reasons to make exercise happen, but after a rough night of sleep your free will is nixing an early morning run. You understand the importance of eating right, but after a stressful, tiring day at work all you want is comfort foods. Sometimes, the secret to success lies in planning for, tricking, or working around your human nature. Creating boundaries and establishing rewards and consequences can be something so simple, yet so effective!
Here are some simple ways I’ve helped my amazing Fit Tutor members (and even myself!) fight our human nature and make our healthy habits happen, using simple, everyday rewards and habits!
Immediate Rewards: No _____ Until _____
No, you’re not telling your seven-year-old he can’t play video games until his room is clean, but the concept is the exact same.
You can postpone your guilty pleasure, your going out with friends, your laziness – whatever! – until you’ve done something to get you one step closer to your goals. I wish everyone loved broccoli and deadlifts, but sometimes you have to use rewards or consequences to make sure you prioritize your health!
Here’s an example: Have an Amazon addiction? Love to online shop? No shopping until your weekly meal plan is made and your groceries are in hand.
Just fill in the gaps with your own time wasters and goals.
(BTW, is anyone else singing a certain Beastie Boys song right now?)
Other examples could be
- No Netflix until you’re finished with your workout (although I prefer to bribe myself with Parks & Rec during strength training!).
- No looking at your phone in the morning until your workout is done, or healthy breakfast made and lunch packed.
- My husband is the ultimate rockstar and just bought a real alarm clock so he won’t wake up and scroll through social media and kill off all his brain cells. He’s truly a hero.
- No social media until you finish your workout or make a healthy dinner.
- No wine or dessert until you’ve done your Couch to 5K training.
Identify your biggest time wasters.
Figure out where and how you want to be the laziest.
Set up a plan of attack!
Figure out your biggest goals and your biggest issues and go from there. For every 100 things I’m disciplined about, there’s about 10,000 ways I waste time. I seek out the biggest hinderance to my goals, or habits I want to create, and start there.
I polled my readers and many agree- social media, online games, going down a rabbit trail of reading articles or comments can be huge time wasters. They aren’t necessarily evil, but since you know these things can waste your time, what about setting up boundaries so you determine when and how you get to enjoy these things?
Start where you’ll see the biggest difference – OR – where you think you’ll be the most successful. It’s OK to start off with an easy victory and go from there. Forward progress is the main goal.
Fill in Your Own Blanks
How would you fill in the blanks of “No _____ until ______”?
Share in the comments, or at least start brainstorming!
Please allow me to confess that I’m not perfect, and how I use this on myself:
- No TV until I start my workout
- I divide up my to-do list and don’t allow myself to start on the second half until the dogs are walked
- I also don’t allow myself dessert or a big splurge unless I’ve worked out that day, with few exceptions
- No perusing thredUP until my work is done.
- No coffee until I’ve had 2 glasses of water
- No Protein shake (tastes like a milkshake!) until my workout is done
- My social media use has been disappointing lately, so I’ve been limiting it but haven’t worked it into this equation yet! It’s up next ;)
My biggest challenge: Since moving to the great PNW, I’ve discovered my southern wardrobe does not work here. I’ve spent a lot of time thrifting in Portland as well as online. I’ve wasted too much time and spent too much money, so I committed to 30 days of no shopping (even looking!) and you cannot even imagine how much I’ve gotten done lately!
These are just some examples. What would work for you? My human nature wants to eat too much, buy too much, and find refuge in mindless tasks, so I actively have to plan around it.
A Boring Version of “Treat Yo’self”?
Just because it’s become the norm doesn’t mean you are entitled to some of the things you enjoy.
Sorry-not-sorry about this rather unpopular opinion. This belief helps my Fit Tutor members stick to their habits and reach their goals, so please, read on ;)
If exercising is known to help prevent a ton of diseases, but you aren’t doing it… but you seem to find plenty of time for “What Disney Princess Are You?” quizzes or are actively trying to change the world through Facebook comments, then maybe you need to change up your mindset.
Viewing certain things as privileges or rewards can help you be disciplined (ahh, so sorry for the “D” word, friend!) and reach your goals.
Or to put it in more friendly terms… a little less tweeting, a little more feeling confident in your jeans.
(Or reducing heart disease… whatever!)
Perhaps mindless things like online shopping, gaming, reading Facebook comments, product reviews – whatever your guilty pleasure is – should come after you’ve done something to extend your life, improve your health, and feel more confident in yourself!
You can reward yourself with amazing things like massages, pedicures, shopping sprees, a night out, etc, but these usually work better for long-term goals because these can add up financially! I hesitate to say the word “earn,” but you can earn your Snapchat use or your Netflix binge by prioritizing healthy habits! These can be practical, everyday rewards that will get you great results!
But I’m Too Busy…
And if you swear on Cory and Topanga’s love that you are just too busy to fit in even 7 minutes of exercising, and you are too stressed to contemplate making one healthy trade off when it comes to food, then friend, you need to quit something.
First off, you have all of my empathy, and I know this is tough.
I agree there are totally legit excuses, and maybe your busyness is out of your control. Perhaps it’s just for a season, and you’re squinting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But in my conversations with people who don’t have time to improve their health, I’ve noticed many still find ways to waste time.
I challenge you to allow a friend to look at your schedule and help you identify what to cut out, or what to save for another season. We need to stop thinking of exercise and healthy eating as optional or filed into our “someday” category. Sometimes another person’s eye can help us be realistic about and accountable to how we’re spending our time!
Future Rewards: Earn It For Next Week
Another way you can approach this is earning something for the week (or month) later! Challenge yourself to balance what you want to do vs. what you need to do. If your workouts don’t get done or you end up stress eating or swinging through the drive through, you can set up these boundaries for you the following week.
I have both myself and my interested clients complete habit charts to keep track of what they want to accomplish. We set a goal percentage for success, and depending on their success, rewards and/or consequences are enforced. Sometimes the rewards are fun things like a tattoo, getting a babysitter for a night out, or a new dress! Other times the rewards are online shopping, still getting social media privileges, still allowed to drink wine, etc :)
Find What Works For Your Personality!
Recruit Help if Needed
Last but not least, if you’re not going to stick to this on your own, then you need to enlist an accountability partner! I know from personal experience and client testimonies that friends, family, and spouses can potentially work, but it can get messy really quickly. Should your roommate really be the one to call you out about your recent foodie instagram posts the night you skipped your workout? Or should your spouse confront you about the groceries going bad in the fridge while you’re texting him to meet you at Happy Hour?
If that works for your relationship, then go for it!
But if it doesn’t, The Fit Tutor provides professional accountability at an affordable cost to help ensure you’re doing what YOU set out to do! :) Bonus: using my workouts and nutrition course will help you get in great shape. If you need accountability and you’re on thin ice with your sister for dodging her calls for standing her up at the gym, then sign up for your free trial and let’s discuss your plan of attack!
You’re Worth It!
Dear sister, this world needs you healthy and able. Your work, your family, our society, not to mention YOU all benefit from your improved health and confidence! I know, these words make it sound easy, but it’s not. Taming the beast that is your human nature is tough! But you are tougher. And where you aren’t or don’t feel tougher, you can set up boundaries, rewards, and consequences to help guide you to success.
Oh, and believe me, I understand this doesn’t work for every personality type. If it doesn’t work for you, send it to someone you know will benefit from this concept!
I’m cheering you on! I’d love for you to share in the comments what your first No ______ Until ______ will be!