This is a short list of the tips and tricks I am implementing to help me keep myself on track to lose this spare tire and get back in shape in time for summer.
This is part of my series on my Q1 2016 Fitness Plan. Make sure you read that first so you get why I am writing this series and how to best navigate these posts.
Put Stuff Where You Will Stumble Over It:
A big part of my habit hacking is proximity. If you see it or you stumble over it you will think about it and are more likely to pick up the new habit. I picked up a couple of new toys such as my Magic Bullet Blender, body fat calipers, food scale, and a new cook book. I actually added an extra shelf to my desk so I can have everything right there.
I also put a giant container of 'Whey Protein' on my desk easily within reach. Ideally this will encourage me to drink more healthy shakes which will keep me filled enough I don't go digging through the kitchen for the unhealthy extra calories I am trying to stay away from.
I also bought the cook book The Shredded Chef. So far it has been interesting and supplied me with plenty of interesting recipes I intend to use over the upcoming months to achieve my goals.
My Gym Locker:
I also try piggybacking new habits on to existing habits. For example I have been showering, brushing my teeth, and getting myself ready in the morning for at least the last 20 years. That habit is about as rock solid as one can get. So to ensure I get to the gym everyday I rent out a locker at the gym and put all the stuff I need to get ready into the locker at the gym. This way if I want to properly prepare myself for my day I need to drop into the gym. Since I am already at the gym I might as well get some reps in. One set turns into many and eventually you have some real momentum going on.
Similar to what I did with the Gym Locker and with my real estate post I want to piggy back off a habit I already have: Browsing Facebook and Instagram(though I try not to do it too often). I started following accounts that would be inspirational and informative so they would show up in my news feed and trigger the behaviors I want to pick up. Unfortunately my news feed is still full of videos of cute dogs and political rants somehow but it also has more inspirational and educational fitness posts from accounts like the following:
Calendar And Alarms:
Originally I had planned to take a lesson from Jerry Seinfeld but I have settled for now just setting up weekly and daily notifications to tell me when its time to eat.
For those of you that have tried dieting then you probably know remembering to eat is not a problem. You basically sit around drooling and dreaming of your next meal. I had the same problem(still do when I cut heavy). Without the alarms I find myself incessantly looking at the clock like a kid waiting for the bell to ring at the end of class. If I set the alarm there is no need to check the clock. I just wait for the alarm to go off. If it has not keep your mind focused on the task at hand and do not allow yourself to be distracted then disappointed by the clock that seems to be moving backward.
I also put things like "Cook Weekly Meals" as an appointment each Sunday to remind me to prepare all my weekly meals.
Buy The Size You Want To Be:
One of my favorite books on human behavior as it pertains to eating is Mindless Eating. In this book the cite a study on prison inmates that had significant weight gain. To sum it up the attributed the weight gain to the fact that they had no metrics to measure their weight with. Not just scales and mirrors but even something so basic as a fixed waistband. You have a fixed jean size right? Well the inmates only had jumpsuits with no fixed waist bands. So if an inmate put on 10 Lbs or so their jumpsuits didn't really get any tighter.
In the past this has gotten me as well. My various occupations as a writer and programmer that can work from home in his sweatpants as well as my career as a gymnastics coach who coaches while wearing sweatpants lead me into a similar trap. So I try to wear clothes that give me some haptic feedback if I start to balloon up. I want my pants to feel tight around the waste to remind me that those few extra cookies at 9PM are a bad idea.
I will even take it a step further and buy jeans that have a 30 inch waist band with I am barely comfortable at a 32. I won't wear them out as they look ridiculous but I will wear them around the house just to remind me of how much further I have to go before I reach my goals. I know this one sounds pretty crazy but it works for me.
I saved this for last because I find the Technology of the month comes and goes. I and millions of others have had good luck tracking calories and protein with a pen and paper.
I personally put more faith in my various notebooks then my various computers. But since I am trying new things as they pertain to fitness I might as well document them here.
Recently I started using a Fitbit. I am not sure how helpful it will be but I like the widget displaying my progress that appears on the home screen of my cell phone. I have had success using the Mint widget to help me be more mindful of my finances. Hopefully this will do the same.
Lose It App:
A friend of mine introduced me to the Lose It App. So far I have had a good experience with it. It’s easy enough to look up caloric and nutritional values and well as track them easily. It is not 100% accurate but at least lets me ball park it much better then strictly guessing.
We all have behavioral patterns made up of triggers and routines. These behaviors can be random or you can program them yourself. I chose to program mine by controlling my triggers and enforcing my routines. You can too. Hopefully this post gave you some creative ideas on how you can get started.
PS: There are more tips and trick specific to dieting in my post on Dieting.