Decisions – With the fast-pace lifestyles we all lead, making as few decisions as possible will help set you up for better health. Making the right food choices or summoning up the willpower to hit the gym can be challenging at times. I will show you in this article how to be more compliant and successful with adhering to a set routine with a very small lifestyle shift.
We’ve all had those days when 4pm rolls around, you’re tired from the work week, feeling like indulging in a late afternoon cake or piece of candy… and you convince yourself to skip the gym tonight and “plan” to go early the next day instead. The next day, you hit the snooze button and put the gym off till that evening instead. [Insert vicious cycle here].
By leaving things open to making excuses for, having no structured routine and a sea of choices to make before zeroing in on your heath and fitness goals, this can be a massive roadblock. Taking proactive steps, planning and cutting out some of the choices you have to make each day, especially pertaining to your health and fitness, is key.
Decision fatigue – What is it? And what does it have to do with my health and fitness?
According to Wikipedia, decision fatigue refers to “the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making.” A study at Columbia University reported that Judges in court are shown to make less favourable rulings later in the day rather than earlier in the day. 1 See also James Clear’s article on decision fatigue here, for more detail.
If you’re not hands-on with shortcutting decisions, then decision fatigue can kick in earlier in the day and chances are you will feel like hitting the couch after work rather than the gym. It’s common to wake up, only to decide what clothes to wear, breakfast to eat, if you’re going to go for a run or to hit the gym to lift weights.
Don’t leave your health in the hope that you will make the right choices! Buy it and book it, with no chance of a refund or changing your mind. Every good salesman knows that giving too many options is never a good thing, which is much the same for your diet and training regime. Take away options and complexity to ensure better compliance.
Famously, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama all chose to wear the same or similar outfits everyday, so they could be more productive in their respective fields. Success has left us clues and principles that can be applied to your training and nutrition!
Mark Zuckerbergs candid post – He has been wearing the same grey t-shirt since launching Facebook
Applying less decisions to your health
If you’re someone who struggles to stick with your fitness or eating plan, you must find a combination of accountability, habit, results and enjoyment. Without those, you will be one of the many that start and never follow through with it to see the results and make it a routine habit.
This is crucial for you to follow through even when times are tough and you might not feel like it. Having a coach there, making sure you are checking the boxes each day, has a multitude of benefits for accountability. Not only does your coach give you fast-tracked expert guidance but the social pressure of not letting the coach down and more importantly not wasting your hard earned dollars if you don’t show up for the session. Some people say they can’t afford a personal trainer or a coach, but I say to them you can’t afford not to have one!
Other ways of creating accountability are committing with a partner, friend or colleague to a minimum of twelve months of training together and checking up on each other’s nutrition. Twelve months might sounds like a long time, but if you are serious about turning a commitment into a lifestyle habit, I have found with my clinical experience, those that can last 12 months create a habit for the rest of their lives. It might sound a little narcissistic, but posting on social media can create accountability by announcing to everyone what your intentions are and can even invite family and friends to offer words of encouragement and support.
The secret to your long-term success is without a doubt: habit. Once your training and nutrition has embedded itself into your lifestyle, then all the hard decisions are gone. Health no longer becomes a choice, it is a necessity!
Seeing results has a powerful reinforcing effect on your psychology to continue with your training and to continue to eat well. There are also benefits and reasons why you are to maintaining your newfound habits. “If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing.” Take photos, measurements, blood work and anything that can show a positive change. This is a tool for your continued success. If you’re not getting the favourable results that you expected, then go see an expert. Chances are you will shortcut results and learn of ways to keep improving.
It’s self-explanatory, you are more likely to continue with something that you enjoy doing rather than beating your head against a brick wall hoping that it will feel better soon. If you don’t like the gym, try gymnastics, cross fit, basketball, whatever! There is no one-way that it has to be done. Anyone who says, “this is the only way” doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. Training and healthy eating shouldn’t be a chore, it must be pleasurable and rewarding. If you are struggling with enjoyment, then find yourself a coach, trainer or person that is truly inspired and enjoys what they do. You will find their attitude infectious and the enjoyment will flow though to yourself!
In summary, wear the same clothes everyday and make fewer decisions for success in health and fitness.
- S. Danziger, J. Levav and L. Avnaim-Pesso, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011, 108, 6889-6892.