3 Ways To Change Your Routine And Transform Your Life
Ever heard of “Decision Fatigue”?
It’s a very real phenomenon where our brains are too tired to make a decision. Usually accompanied by a massive feeling of being overwhelmed. You know when you get home at the end of the day and you can’t even begin to think about what’s for dinner, let alone what to make and if the kids will eat it. You just ask them what they want, throw it in the microwave, and pray they shove it down their gullets without choking… That’s decision fatigue.
Your brain uses a MASSIVE amount of energy each day to function. In fact, operations to keep you alive including breathing, your heart beating, and all those other handy automatic things your brain does to keep us around make up for 60% of your total daily energy expenditure.
That means if you need 2,000 calories per day, 1,200 of those are going towards you NOT DYING. (This helps explain why you might feel like total and utter shit when you drop your calorie intake to 1,200 per day… but that’s another topic for another day.)
A long time ago our brains figured out that the fewer active decisions we have to make, the less energy we use making them. Since our brains are on a budget and always trying to conserve our energy resources, it started making things automatic.
It started making processes habitual.
Whether we realize it or not, most of our day to day lives is driven by habits. A great example of this is when we wake up and we AUTOMATICALLY go to the bathroom, make the coffee, brush our teeth, wash our face, etc. You don’t think through those processes every morning, they just happen. Because your brain is using the habits we already have in place and KNOW will get us through the day.
A great example of a decision that ISN’T habitual… you know that discussion you have with yourself every time you know you’re “supposed to go workout”?
“I’m supposed to go workout now.”
“Am I going to actually go?”
“I am REALLY busy today… and I’m tired.”
“Maybe I should rest. I really don’t want to go.”
“But I do need to workout. But I don’t feel like.”
“Well, I can rest today and I’ll go tomorrow.”
And another day goes by without a workout…
Have you been there? Had this conversation? Congratulations! You’re human and you have a working, adaptive, survivalist, energy conserving human brain!
The thing is there is NO WAY to stop those conversations from happening. You will always be able to talk your way out of eating healthy, going to the gym, or any other thing that isn’t an automatic process.
As long as it is a decision, and up for debate, you will fight yourself.
The KEY to changing that whole environment is HABITS.
If something is a habit it is automatic. It’s going to happen because your conscious brain isn’t in charge and isn’t there to talk you out of it. The only way to stop having to call on your (exhausted) willpower is to stop putting yourself in a position where you have to make a decision at all.
Side note: this goes back to why we like “food rules”. If you have a rule to follow, you don’t have to actually make a decision. You’re just following orders.
Habits are the answer to every single change you’d like to make in order for you to grow and evolve into the person you are meant to be.
So here are 3 ways to change your routine and totally transform your life.
1. Change Your Language. If my husband asks me if I’m going to the gym tonight and I say “Maybe”... chances are that’s actually a “No”. I’m not committed and I’m giving myself an “out”. I’m allowing it to be a decision. If I say “Yes.” I am committed and it’s a decision that’s already been made. If the decision has already been made you are less likely to go back to it and undo the decision later.
FIX IT: Commit with your words. No more of this wishy washy stuff. You will actually feel so much better if you take away extraneous decisions throughout your day. It’s incredibly freeing to focus your energy on only the truly important moments and decisions.
2. Get Real With Yourself. When we make decisions that don’t align with our goals we rarely think through the consequences of that in the moment. We don’t face facts. So, if you’re thinking of skipping your workout, next time try making yourself say that out loud, and include the consequence of not going.
FIXT IT: You’ve decided you’re going to skip the gym? Talk through that out loud. And make sure you included the consequences and what that decision means to you. “I am really tired so I’m going to skip my workout. I know that by skipping it I’m not keeping my promise to myself to tone up and lose weight, and I know this is moving me further away from that goal.” If you can honestly admit that you are breaking your own word to yourself and throwing your goals in the toilet, and live with it… by all means, stay home.
3. Plan It And Schedule It. People who plan out the when, how, what, and where of their goals are the most successful at creating new habits. If you want to workout more, choose what days and times you’re going to do it. Choose what workout you’re going to do. Create a plan for yourself to follow. And then follow it. If you leave it up to on the spot decision making, you’re going to choose netflix and the couch every time.
FIX IT: Create a plan for yourself. Whether it’s weekly or monthly doesn’t matter, as long as it’s realistic and you will execute. Know WHAT your goal is, WHY your goal is important to you, WHEN you’re going to do it, and HOW you’re going to do it. BONUS: I’d also recommend defining how you’ll know when you’ve successfully accomplished that goal and it’s time to move on. to something new.
If you have habits that have helped YOU move closer to your healthiest self I’d love to hear what they are and what moved the needle for you! Shoot me an email and let me know!
Have a healthy day!
PS: If you find this helpful make sure you join my newsletter for more great information on how to change your health and fitness once and for all - AND to join in on my upcoming crash course: "Why Move More and Eat Less Has Failed Us All”.