There. It’s all in the title. You really can’t.
Think about it this way. Did you build poor eating habits overnight? How often did you put off a workout by saying, “oh, I’ll just go to the gym tomorrow.”?
I get it. As a nation, we’re sleep-deprived, we’re cooking at home less than we ever have before, we’re blurring the lines between work and personal time. Adding in the time it takes to meal prep, work out, practice any sort of self-care? Getting fit just starts to seem impossible.
But here’s the thing (and I’m going to be completely honest). You didn’t l, for example, start having a can of Coke a day overnight. Over time, things that we do regularly become default. They become a habit. If you started getting over a 3:00 p.m. slump with a cup of tea and a few cookies, your body and mind are going to start sending you signals when you’re nearing 3:00 p.m. that it’s tea and biscuit time.
Same with eating fast food. It likely started with needing a quick meal. But, our bodies love sugar, fat, and salt. And the quick hit of energy that a fast food meal gives us feels so good… until we’re starving again because we burned through the empty calories quickly. So you go back for more. And the cycle continues, and you want more of it. And it becomes a habit.
Eventually, these bad habits, be it the cans of pop, the sitting down and scrolling social media for a couple of hours, the afternoon cookies with your tea, or the going through a drive through for a quick meal start to add up. And that often means starting to notice weight gain, big swings in energy, or worse, health problems.
So, how do we solve this? If we didn’t get to this point overnight, we also can’t undo it overnight. You absolutely cannot simply start a crash diet, or a seven day a week workout habit overnight. You’ll be tired, hungry, sore, and you’ll likely get injured. And then discouraged. And you’ll give up again.
I’m a huge fan of starting slow. Have a multiple cans of Coke a day habit? Start by replacing one. Just one with a glass of sparkling water. You’ll still get the fizz, but you won’t get all the extra sugar. Do that for a few days, then cut out another can. Continue until you’re not drinking any pop.
If you grab three cookies with your tea, cut back to two. Then one.
If you’ve not worked out for a while, it’s the same theory. Take a walk around the block one night after dinner. Do it again the next night. Make the walks longer. Gradually increase your activity level. Add in something else – weight training, cycling, a sport you loved as a kid. Keep going.
It’s important to keep perspective as well. Your weight does not determine your fitness, or your health. But, healthier habits do tend to lead to more positive health outcomes such as lower blood pressure, lower risk of diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, and tends to lead to more energy and focus.
What unhealthy habit are you going to start replacing today?