By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Motivation comes and goes, but your habits stay with you during your highs and lows. As the great Vince Lombardi once said:
“Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
When it comes to transforming your physique, you have to be willing to play the long game. The scale won’t move how you want it to every week, and sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned in your training process, but when you have winning habits and systems in place, the only way that you don’t come out on top eventually is if you quit.
If you haven’t checked out the first part of this article, check it out here.
Here are 6 more habits that you need to master in order to make your fitness goals a reality.
1) Eat Slowly
It takes your brain and your stomach time to get on the same frequency. The feeling of fullness you undergo after eating a meal is not caused by your stomach being full, but by your brain reacting to the release of chemicals when food or drink enters your stomach. It can take up to 20 mins for these chemicals to kick in and for you to get this feeling. Eating slowly gives you time to ascertain whether you are still hungry or if it’s time to pack your meal to go. As a rule of thumb, make each meal last at least 15 minutes. Imagine that you are a New York Times food critic, and that you are sampling a plate from a 5-star restaurant in your city. Take your time and savor each bite.
2) Stop At 3/5 Full
If we were measuring your fullness level on a scale from 1-5, with 1 being “empty like Tom Hank’s stomach in Castaway” and 5 being “Post-thanksgiving dinner stuffed”, I want you at a 3-3.5 when you finish your meals. You should feel light and energized, almost like you could get up and go run a race. You accomplish this by focusing in on the task at hand and being present in your meal. Don’t eat and watch TV, or eat and read the paper, because then you are distracted and not focused on your level of satiety. When we have too many priorities, we truly have zero priorities, so focus on eating.
3) Eat More Healthy Fats
Fat is usually demonized as something you should stay away from, but the truth is that it is an important macronutrient that is absolutely crucial to the operation of your hormones and body. Fat, like protein, is another great tool to help you fight hunger. Make sure you are getting good fats in your meals from sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados, fatty fish, and olive oil.
4) Eat Quality Carbs
Carbs aren’t the devil, and all carbs aren’t created equal. Check the quality of your carbohydrates. Where are they coming from? Are they coming from whole grain sources, brown rice, quinoa, sprouted grain bread, and fruits/vegetables of a variety of colors and sizes?
Or do the majority of your carbs come covered in chocolate in the shape of an oreo cookie? Now i’m not saying never indulge. That’s crazy talk! Life is all about balance, my friends.
Most times, we focus the majority of our energy on the things we want instead of all of the amazing things that we have. This can lead us to a state of tunnel vision—and even worse, a state of nothing ever being good enough. This ties into recognizing non-scale victories, and not placing all of our eggs into the scale basket. Constantly checking in on what we are excited and happy about allows us to enjoy our journey. When you fall in love with the process and enjoy everything going on around you, you develop an unstoppable momentum that catapults you to further results.
Water is the magic elixir of life. Many times we mistake the feeling of being hungry with what actually is dehydration. Putting yourself in this position sabotages fat loss. You just feel out of it cognitively and are more inclined to make some decisions that may move you further away from your goal. So just stay hydrated, people.
Sleep is pretty essential for pretty much every one of your physical systems. In addition to wrecking your hormonal profile, a lack of sleep leads you to crave more sugar and starch, making it harder for you to get the good stuff into your diet. It’s also much harder to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle if you don’t have the energy for it.
While both of these habits deserve their own bullet point, I believe that the lack of either leads to similar issues. In a nutshell: lack of sleep and dehydration can kill your results!