A few months ago I started eating natural peanut butter and unsweetened almond milk for a midnight snack.
High in calories but delicious and good for you.
I bring this up because the only “human food” that my dog Buddy is allowed to eat is peanut butter. Now, I don’t mind giving him a little bit of my snack, but I do like to finish eating before he gets his share.
Much like Pavlov’s dogs, he has learned to associate me grabbing the milk carton with it being peanut butter time.
It’s quite amazing.
He can be upstairs in a room with the door shut and I will reach into the fridge ever so quietly looking for the milk.
My hand moves the eggs to the side and nothing from Buddy. I scoot the cooking oil out of the way and still nothing. But the moment I grab the carton of milk I can hear him come down the stairs – peanut butter time baby!
I still don’t know how he can hear the difference between a carton of eggs and a carton of milk, but I’m impressed all the same.
I know you are thinking great story Nate, what the heck does this have to do with fitness?
Triggers and habits.
Buddy is triggered by the milk carton – he knows that it is getting close to peanut butter time. He also has never tasted any other foods so he knows he isn’t getting any of them and won’t budge while I rummage through my fridge. I could even leave a fully cooked steak unattended and trust he wouldn’t eat it, as long as I don’t leave it for TOO long!
This is the easiest way to have either a good habit or a bad habit. It has nothing to do with discipline and will-power, it is just setting yourself up to be in an environment that triggers you to take healthier actions.
Here are a few things that make setting up positive triggers easier:
1. Remove the items you don’t want to eat or drink from your house. This is by far the easiest thing to do. If it is in your house you WILL eat or drink it. Period. Don’t keep these items in your house and I promise your consumption will go down.
2. Have better options available in the house. Once you have removed the “bad” triggers, get some better alternatives. There are no cookies, goldfish, or chips in my home so I am rarely tempted to eat them. We have the delicious peanut butter, dark chocolate (at least 60% dark), and almonds to snack on.
3. Have your workout gear laid out the night before. Don’t leave your workout gear in your closet or drawers. Take the decision making away so that you will just be triggered to work out.
4. Have a workout playlist. When my first jam comes on I instantly go from tired to ready to lift weights.
What other things can you do to ‘trigger’ a healthier choice? I would love to know, for real 😉
PS. When you are ready there are 3 ways to work with me:
1. Feel 10 Years Younger
Whether at my personal training studio or online we will develop a customized program for you to eliminate joint pain, banish unwanted weight gain, and eliminate medications. Just reply YOUNGER to this email to learn more.
2. Get My Book
My book The Fitness Success Checklist For Retirees details my exact approach to help people feel and look ten years younger and you can download the digital copy for free.
3. Success Plan
We can just jump on the phone for thirty minutes and learn more about each other including your goals, limitations, likes, and dislikes. From there I can help you formulate a customized health and fitness plan.
Just reply back to the email PLAN to learn more.