Changing how you think can be hard. Changing your environment isn’t so difficult. By training your environment, your habits will follow. Here are 18 strategies from the experts. This list will help you improve your lifestyle and transform your body, no willpower required.
1. Have an athlete-friendly meal delivery subscription. Look for a service that offers meals for athletes — they’ll offer double the lean protein (30-40 g) along with fibrous veggies like salad, steamed beans or broccoli.
2. Keep the ice cream, cookies, and chocolates out of the house. Make “laziness” work for you by making it harder and more inconvenient to reach for high-calorie, low-nutrition, easy-to-overeat foods. Keep a colorful assortment of dried and fresh fruits around for dessert instead.
3. Plan your meals. Every few days, sketch out the meals you’ll eat for the next few days. Check the list daily so you know: what to buy at the grocery store, what to pre-prep, what meal you’ll eat at what time (or when you’re really hungry).
4. Keep chopped, ready-to-eat vegetables in the fridge. To make your favorite salad veggies even easier, store them “restaurant style.” Clean and sterilize one of your refrigerator’s crispers, dump chopped veggies (loose) into it, and cover them with a damp paper towel and a couple of ice cubes.
5. Don’t be hungry and in the grocery store at the same time. Focus on the perimeter — the produce, meat, and dairy sections. Don’t even go down the processed food aisles, so you won’t be tempted.
6. Keep shake-ready ingredients in the freezer. Are there any greens in your fridge “on their way out”? Stick them in a gallon bag in your freezer. Once frozen, crush them to make flakes. This reduces the space they take up and makes them simple to add to shakes.
7. Keep a batch of cooked grains handy. Whole grains are not instant, but if you make a large batch on Sunday, you can keep them handy in the fridge to use all week long.
8. Help your kitchen coach you. Make the fridge door a “vision board” with post-it notes reminding you of your goals, inspiring pictures, and cool looking magnets.
9. Just put on your sneakers. Actually, consider just wearing comfortable shoes all the time, so you’re ready for anything, anytime.
10. Keep workout gear in your face. Have any equipment you own (kettlebell, resistance bands, a dumbbell, a pull-up bar, etc) in your home or office so you’re more tempted to use them. Do “trigger training”: Leave them in various places throughout your house, and whenever you pass one of them, do a few reps. Over the day this adds up quickly without eating up too much time or leaving you wiped out.
11. Pack your “mobile gym” when you travel. Only book hotels with gyms and/or pools. Toss a jump rope or resistance bands into your suitcase along with a list of bodyweight-only exercises (NIKA’s have access to a full document of exercises in the group) that you can do anywhere. A kayak bag (20 L capacity) folds up small enough to fit in a carry-on but turns into a ~40 lb kettlebell once you fill it with water.
12. Turn your car into a locker room. If you’re in the car a lot, be prepared with gym clothes and a healthy snack so you don’t make poor decisions in desperate moments. Keep a bag with exercise clothes, shoes, and towels in your trunk so you’re ready to move no matter where the day takes you.
13. Schedule workouts like you schedule meetings. Put everything on your calendar, from workouts, to laundry, to work meetings, to rest and recover, so that very few things are “unexpected.” Most of our routines are pretty predictable.
14. Move social gatherings to parks and gyms. You don’t always have to meet at a bar or restaurant. Make your next date outside or at a climbing gym or trampoline park. This goes for professional networking, too. Instead of sitting down at a coffee shop, get coffee to go and have a walking meeting.
15. Have only half a car (or less). Sharing a car with your partner or a friend means you’ll have to walk or bike more. Walk on errands, even if your destination is on the outside edge of “reasonable.” For example, instead of driving seven minutes to the post office, take 25 minutes to walk there. That’s 50 minutes walking rather than 15 minutes sitting in the car, but the errand only took an additional 35 minutes from your day.
16. Combine walking and working. Moving while you brainstorm or take a work call helps you focus and avoid the sitting all day soreness. Get a used treadmill for a couple hundred bucks off Craigslist and fit it with a SurfShelf for your laptop. Now you can write, edit, fire off emails…all while you walk.
17. Separate yourself from your work once per hour. Work for 50 minutes, then step away from your desk for 10 (work Tabata anyone?). Cycle this for your workday. You’ll find that you still have energy and focus by the end. You can also install anti-RSI software, which “locks” your computer for 5-10 minute intervals every hour so you’re forced to give work a rest.
18. Turn family and friends into coaches. To create a supportive environment, be clear with loved ones that you’re trying to eat better and get fit — and why. They don’t have to participate, but you can ask them to help. That takes the pressure off them to do what you’re doing, and most people (especially kids) like “helping” in some way.