The key to a sustainable nutrition plan
Have you ever started a nutrition plan and stuck to it perfectly for a week and then ‘fallen off the bandwagon’ so to speak, just as you started to see progress? Have you ever thought to yourself ‘why would I ‘self-sabotage’ right when I was starting to make progress?’
Most people put this down to not being able to maintain motivation. But having to consciously think about and gear yourself up to feel motivated to stay on plan everyday is never going to happen.
No one has that much energy to spend on will power. Most of us have just about enough motivation to get through the morning meetings!
But we can harness the power of HABITS. If we build habits the requirement to consciously maintain motivation or conscious thought to stay on plan barely comes into it, which means you can focus on what's important…. Crushing your CrossFit performance!
Short term effort = long term success
It is important to recognise that it does take a conscious effort to get your new SUSTAINABLE nutrition plan in place. It will take some effort to break old habits and create new ones. But this 3 part series will walk you through how to break habits you no longer want and build ones you do. Put in the hard work now and reap the benefits for years to come!
We first need to understand WHY habits form and HOW if we want to start to break or build them.
Habits are the brains’ way of automating certain behaviours so it can use it's power for focusing on the things that it deems more important.
Did someone say CrossFIt?!
When we wake up in the morning we need to be thinking about what to do when we get to work or our training session, not focusing on how to put our socks on. Without thinking we put our socks on in the same order each day.
The same goes for the way we eat. A lot of the way we eat is habitually driven because that takes up less brain space than thinking ‘what am I going to have for breakfast, how long will it take me to cook, have I got all the ingredients etc…’.
As we said, the brain wants to automate processes.
A habit is built when a signal internally or externally (i.e. hunger) produces a craving (food), which causes the body to go in search for something that will satisfy this craving. At breakfast time you will be hungry (signal) which creates a craving for food.
Once upon a time you may have smashed a bowl of coco pops which not only satisfied your hunger but also gave you sugar high. That reaction (eating coco-pops) would have created a reward (satisfied, not hungry) for the brain. The more you repeat a cycle the more this habit becomes automated.
The brain isn’t really picky over what reaction created the reward. You can have the same signal (hunger), the same craving (for food) but two different habits formed. If you had eggs and soldiers for breakfast one day rather than coco-pops, then your craving at breakfast would become for eggs and soldiers to act as the reward to satisfy your craving. As such you developed the habit of having eggs and soldiers for breakfast rather than coco-pops.
Another example: two people, both having had a stressful day at work: one person was planning a run with a friend the other bought a bottle of wine on the way home. Both found they felt a lot more relaxed after they either ran or drank wine. Feeling stressed has now become a signal for both, but the craving for one person becomes for wine while for the other person becomes going for a run, the reaction being drinking wine for one person and running for the other, both with the reward being feeling less stressed.
However, now we have environmental signals i.e. seeing coco-pops or seeing a bottle of wine, that act as a new signal because they are now associated with reward. So even if we weren’t hungry or stressed these signals trigger the craving, because of the anticipation of feeling rewarded.
Most of our habits we didn’t intentionally build, they are from childhood or we just stumbled upon them and repeated them until they stuck. But now we can take control of our habits one at a time to create an effortlessly sustainable way of eating.
We can put in that bit of effort in to understand and implement our system of anytime and training meals now, and in the long run it just becomes second nature to eat that sweet potato after training and bulk out meals with greens the rest of the time.
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
Research has shown that when people try to change a single behaviour at a time, the likelihood that they’ll retain that habit for a year or more is better than 80 percent. When they try to tackle two behaviours at once, their chances of success are less than 35 percent. When they try for three behaviours or more, their success rate plummets to less than 5 percent.
CHANGE ONE HABIT AT A TIME.
Identify what currently has the greatest impact on taking you closer or further away from your goals. E.g. snacking on 400 kcals while you make dinner which would equate to an extra 2,800 kcals a week! Or is it undereating/eating the wrong kinds of foods at lunch that leave you feeling exhausted and craving a sugar hit in the afternoon. Identify one thing to start with!
Once you have tackled one and it is an automated process then move onto the next. This is how you change for the long run.
Part 2 of this article series will cover the process of actually building a new habit.
A huge part of our nutrition coaching and courses are based on habit building. This is why we use our app to deliver DAILY content and check ins.
Working with us, opposed to doing it yourself, allows you to build habits that last. We have just released the next intake for our 6 week programs!
Next intake just released for our 6 week online programs.
Early bird discount available!