Tell me if this has happened to you:
You wake up on a Monday morning with all the hopes and dreams of reaching your big health and fitness goals. The day begins and you choose to eat some yogurt with fruit and nuts for breakfast.
Awesome, breakfast done!
You get into your work day and around your lunch time you’ve remembered to bring in leftovers from the weekend for lunch that consists of some grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, and some leftover potatoes.
You are on a roll here!
Dinner is a little hectic with rushing kids around to different activities but you do manage to find some time to make a quick stir fry with ground turkey, mixed veggies and some rice.
Monday was a success in keeping up with the habit of eating whole foods and not ordering food out.
Then Tuesday AM hits and you are in a rush and forget to eat your yogurt but instead stop at the coffee shop to get a muffin.
Lunch rolls around and you didn’t pack your leftovers for lunch - I guess it’s time to order some pizza that is around the block from your office.
Quickly does your great intentions fall flat on its face because of some poor planning and unexpected roadblocks.
What happens to you on Wednesday?
Well, for many of us we see the “bad” day of Tuesday overshadow all the good that was Monday. We get in our heads, feel bad about ourselves and say “we can’t do this” and decide to not plan anything on Wednesday.
The cycle continues and you realize at the end of the week that you only had 1 good day of eating in line with your goals.
In today’s blog I want to discuss the importance of trusting the process and yourself, while also making the promise to never miss twice in a row.
The power of momentum
Do you feel more motivated to do “the right thing” when you’ve already proven to yourself that you can succeed?
Do you feel more motivated to do the “right thing” when you are in a negative mind space and have just considered yourself a failure?
I’m going to bet that most of us will be more likely to act according to our goals if we’ve already experienced some positive rewards from our actions.
Take for example the above story of doing really well on Monday, only to fail to plan for Tuesday, which leads to a derailment throughout the week.
It is very easy for us to get into our own heads and start judging ourselves very harshly. In this judgement we fail to give ourselves a break and therefore, resort to our bad habits.
In this case, we let the negative momentum guide us and lead us towards a negative outcome.
The same is true for the opposite: positive reinforcement breeds positive outcomes.
If you start your day with positive actions towards your goals, you’ll be more likely to continue those things throughout the day. Maybe this sounds obvious but I think far too many of us downplay those positive actions.
I’ve always thought of the Newton’s first law of physics:
“An object in motion , stays in motion”
So then if you are in a negative mind state - you’ll continue to remain in that negative mind space until something stops you.
Okay this is great and all but why am I talking about physics here…
The importance of Habit streaks
When was the last time you set a goal of a daily habit and succeeded in maintaining that streak for a long time?
Take for example something simple; brushing your teeth everyday.
What’s your streak for this?
I hope it’s something like...30, 40, 50 years in a row!
Brushing your teeth is something you do everyday and something that you’ve kept the streak alive for a long time. (Let’s hope for your family and friends sake!)
What else have you attempted to streak?
Since we are talking health, fitness and wellness here : how about a streak of eating 3 palms of protein every single day?
Why is noticing and tracking a streak such a helpful tool?
Well, just like the above examples of momentum, being able to see how many days in a row you’ve been successful at something can be a huge motivating factor.
I use this very method in my coaching. Setting a habit that is performed day in and day out and tracking to see how well my clients can do.
Everyone who takes part in this has reflected how helpful it has been to just focus on one thing day in and day out, and to then see on paper how many days in a row they can get!
When you are on a streak for something, not only is there the reinforcement in doing the actual habit, (take for example the 3 palms of protein eaten every day, you feel more energized, notice you aren't as hungry, aren't snacking as much etc.) but there is also that mental game we can play when we don’t want to “lose” the streak.
I remember as a kid one of the biggest most impressive streaks was Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hit streak.
As a kid growing up playing baseball, this streak allowed me to reflect even as a young kid on the awesomeness that is showing up every single day, and performing to the best of your ability.
Once a streak starts, you rarely want to lose it but rather see how far you can go with it!
This makes it into a bit of a game, a test against your own self. Bonus points if you attempt a streak with someone else since that will push both of you even further to make the streak happen.
The inevitable breaking of a streak
All good things must come to an end.
Game 57 Joe DiMaggio goes hitless, the streak is over and the magic is done….for now.
Streaks are great in how they can motivate you to perform each day but they aren’t the key to success. A streak is only as good as how it sets you up for your next streak.
Let’s take for example eating 3 palms of protein per day. There will be a day where the day is too rushed, you are too busy, or you just simply aren’t in the mood for the chicken, eggs, beef etc.
Once that day comes, the streak must come to an end...at least temporarily.
This falls right in line with a major belief here at Forever Fit Method…”Progress over perfection”.
To chase perfection as the only measure of success is inherently setting yourself up for failure.
No one can be perfect, perfection is an ideal - an unrealistic ideal.
Everyone has a bad day, everyone falls off their game for a day. This perceived “failure” is just that…Perceived.
Actual failure would be not trying to change your habits and life at all. That is failure to even start.
However what happens if you do break a streak, if you do get super busy and can’t find the time to cook a healthy dinner. Maybe you forgot to take meat out and need to order out instead. Maybe you are feeling extra tired and really don’t want to exercise for 20 minutes.
I want you to use this simple technique and reminder to solidify true change.
Never miss twice
So you’ve got off track for a day and now you feel bad about yourself. The streak is over...you did so well with eating your 3 palms of protein but just didn’t have it prepped yesterday.
No worries, you aren’t meant to be perfect.
Instead remind yourself of this : don’t miss twice in a row.
Yes you might be feeling down on yourself, you might start doubting the reasons as to why you are even trying to change, or doubting the actual habit you are trying to implement.
This is when the real work needs to be done : to recognize that you need to hop right back into action and start a new streak!
The more time you spend worrying how this one day has thrown you all off, the longer it will take you to get back on track and into your habit streak.
Here’s a little pro tip: If you hit that day when things don’t go your way - let yourself off the hook and focus on getting 75% of your habit accomplished the next day.
Don’t expect to jump fully back into it, or at least don’t set that expectation. Ease back into it so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming and get a quick win the following day.
There’s nothing wrong with getting only some of your habit accomplished. It’s better than nothing..
Now it’s your turn...
So what is it that you will start habit streaking with?
Here are some good simple tasks that you can attempt day in and day out that will set you on the path to better health, wellness and fitness!
Drink water everyday equal to half your bodyweight
Limit eating out to once a day
Eat at least 3 different vegetables everyday
Move the body at least 20 minutes each day
Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and nighttime
Complete a food journal
5 minute journal before bed
Eat 3 palms of protein per day
Spend 30 minutes connecting with significant other
Stop eating at a 8 out of 10 on the fullness scale each meal
1 serving of a snack at night
Now many of you reading this probably are thinking...”Okay I can do about 4 of those and start that today!”
No...please no don’t do that..
No matter how confident you are with making changes and performing at a high level, keep it simple.
Choose how long you want to streak a habit. My advice to you is simple , attempt 1 new habit for 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks you can decide if this is something you want to continue, or something you can modify to better fit your life.
After 2 weeks our habits start to form so it might also be the fact that this new habit becomes part of your regular routine without much thinking.
I’ve had clients who started really simple with drinking more water everyday. After 2 weeks, they were able to focus on something else while the water habit continued to be part of their routine.
This is the magic of true habit building, to make the things that are important to your health and wellness automatic, easy, and repeatable for the long term.
Start slow, pick one habit, and remember to never miss twice.