It’s no secret that we love a good set of habits.
But sometimes, it can be overwhelming.
Where do you start?
How many do you start with?
When do you change?
What if you’re afraid of burnout?
All of these are very real fears and concerns. When it comes to challenges, this is often why failure is often met several months ... er even weeks ... later. Fad diets are the same thing. They often require you to change TOO much all at once. Because it’s driven basically off your motivation, which we know is not lasting, it means that when you’re not “motivated” those habits fall off the wagon.
INSTEAD, what’s more effective, and what we hope to teach you today is how to BUILD those habits overtime to fill a complete & fulfilling lifestyle.
Likely, some of you reading this are familiar with Dave Ramsey, who has coined the “Debt Snowball”. In the Debt Snowball, you start with your EASIEST & CHEAPEST debt & make the maximum payment you can swing, while paying the minimum on the rest. When you’ve finished debt 1, then you take the money used to pay off debt 1 & add it to the minimum of debt 2, and repeat for debt 3 and so on. By the time you’ve reached your biggest debt, a couple things are happening:
1. You have the habits already down. Likely if you’ve accumulated a lot of debt, your spending habits need some work. Starting with the easiest debt—that’s also not toooooo much money—lets you make the easy & realistic habits first. As you progress through the snowball, your habits become more and more routine & by the time you get to the toughest one, you have everything DOWN.
2. You have hope. By the time you get to the biggest debt, you’ve maybe paid off 2-5 other things & have ONE more left! Imagine the mental approach if instead, you divided all your attention to each debt & at any point, always had 5 debts you’re working on...that’s not as exciting or hopeful. If instead, you paid off your car, then your credit card debt, then another debt, and NOW tackling student loans, you have hope that you can do it & are so so so close...plus the payments have snowballed from the other debts being paid off.
Your habits in your nutrition & fitness journey are VERY similar. First, we want to tackle what’s easiest & realistic & get some easy wins in. Often times, this means doing the habits that help you FEEL good. If you can feel good, you’re going to enjoy the process more. Then we let those become your lifestyle as we add 1-2 every other week or so. Nice and sloooooow so that by the time you get to the biiiiiiiiig goal (i.e. probably weight loss), you’ve already made some dents in that goal AND your habits are on point!!! PLUS you’re happy & enjoying the process & not bogged down by having done everything day one.
Going back to the concept of challenges, let’s put things in perspective. In a challenge, you’re given a (1) nutrition goal – likely a few actually, maybe macros or portions, a veggie goal, etc. (2) exercise goal – this can be tough if you’ve never exercised & now have to do so 5 days a week, (3) a water goal – plus having the side effects of peeing all the time because it likely wasn’t individualized to you, (4) a sleep goal – regardless of whether you have good or broken sleep, (5) a “what you can’t eat” goal removing alllllll your favorites...and maybe a few more goals depending on the challenge. You have to have this all down in 3-5 days to get the most out of your 30-day challenge. You chug along burning fumes for 30 days, dreaming of when you get to give up & go back to old, easy habits.
In Dave Ramsey’s approach, this is building a lifestyle. By the time you’re done with all the steps, you don’t go back to old spending habits. You’re done with that. He’s able to achieve that kind of success because of his snowball approach.
Same here! The slower & more methodical you go, the more you adopt those habits you likely need to be doing into your lifestyle....so fast forward 1 year from now & you go on your first vacation, you’re naturally searching the menu for some veggies to add to your meal.
THAT is the habit snowball we’re going to tackle today!
SO without further ado, let’s get into the steps you will need to take to get into your habit snowball.
STEP 1. Low Hanging Fruit
The first step in the “habit snowball” is starting with some of the low hanging fruit types of habits. These are individual to you.
These are the easy habits you can effortlessly add.
On top of that, you’re only adding the bare minimum.
Think of it like the minimum payments you’d do when paying off debt. You may owe $50,000 to the bank...but maybe you start with $20. That’s okay!!
Same thing with your habits.
Maybe the goal is to start getting 8-9hrs of sleep...start with 6-7 if that’s almost effortless for you to do.
Start with just adding veggies to each meal before worrying about going all in.
Start with just adding whole foods to your meals before you track all your calories and macros.
*Note on habits*
Write these down. Once they’re written down, define HOW you’re going to achieve them AND how you’re going to track & measure. One of my go-tos is putting a post-it note with 30 check boxes on my fridge. Say your low hanging fruit goal is to add veggies to each meal. Each check box represents a day. At the end of the day, if you’ve added veggies to every meal, that check box gets a shiny check. IF not, you don’t get a check for the day.
Studies have looked at the dopamine (reward hormone) kick you get when you complete a habit & get to “check” something off! That’s why to-do lists work for a lot of people.
Pick 2-3 low hanging fruit-like habits to achieve over 30 DAYS. No less. No more. JUST those for 30 days. Every single day.
Then you move to step 2. Adding things in!
STEP 2. Add Some Substance
Now you're ready for more...
IF and only IF you're consistent on the low hanging fruit habits.
If you're not eating veggies daily, then it's not time to add more veggies in.
If you're still forgetting to eat, it's not time to track & log macros.
If you're not mastering the basics of the squat, it's not time to load up the bar to 300lbs and hope for the best.
IF, however, you're crushing the low hanging fruit, you're likely already seeing results!! SO now we just want to keep the ball rolling.
First you want to assess what habits are you naturally able to keep doing without much extra effort and accountability. Consider these like the small debts you've paid off. The habits it took to create these are STILL there...we just don't have to diligently track them as much anymore.
Next, you want to assess what are the next 2-3 bigger milestones you can work on.