February in Review: Living on Autopilot
In the second month of the “Making the Changes That Matter” project, we focused on making behaviors automatic, and reducing the amount of choices that we have to make on a daily basis. As you’ve learned this month, it is an unexpected phenomenon that the less choice we have, the better our choices tend to be! This can apply to the foods we eat, the workouts we do, the products that we buy, and more! “Living on autopilot” means that we make more choices ahead of time, make them automatic habits, and make our “default behaviors” as goal-supporting as possible.
When we streamline our decision-making and keep our life uncomplicated, it’s amazing how much easier healthy living really is!
We may think we’re being thoughtful and rational about every decision we make, but the reality is that we’re already on autopilot. We may just not like the results of the setting that we’re on. It’s not about making every single decision conscious – it’s about re-programming our autopilot setting so that our default decisions are better.
The first thing you need to do is establish awareness:
- What do you want to change?
- What are the consequences if you don’t change
- What situations trigger behaviors that you regret?
If you can build awareness in these three key areas, you are already on the path to re-shaping your automatic thoughts and behaviors!
In Week 2, we talked about how it takes time and effort to make mindful decisions automatic, but it’s so worth it! Here are some strategies I spelled out to help you get there:
- Using a repetitive meal repertoire
- Eating at home more, and out less
- Having a “signature drink” that is healthy (whether caffeinated or “adult”)
- Using a set of “personal rules” that are unique to you, that help guide you to easy “no’s” when you are trying to build habits
The goal is not to restrict yourself, but to instead find joy in simplicity. The odd reality is that less choices often lead to more happiness!
In the third week, I discussed how we often waste precious time chasing the “perfect” workout that will make us slim and toned – but not “too muscular!”
This kind of “appearance engineering” often results more in frustration and inaction than it does in actual fitness progress. This is the problem with the tyranny of choice – with more choices, we often make worse choices, or none at all.
Instead, I advised that you keep things simple by:
- Playing to your strengths – pick something that you moderately enjoy and just do it consistently
- Being mindful of self-sabotaging thinking – watch out for negative self-comparison and unrealistic body standards
Most importantly, ditch the tyranny of choice by remembering that you can be your best you – not a version of someone else! Do what you love, embrace your strengths, be consistent, and you’ll get fitter than you ever believed possible!
Just like tiny hinges turn big doors, there are small actions that, taken repeatedly, make a huge difference in your fitness results. In support of these habits, there are items that you can buy to make your life easier, and I make several important recommendations:
- Alarm clock
- Glass food storage
- Clothing organizers
- Jump rope
While not all of these items are directly related to fitness, they indirectly influence your ability to be well-rested, active, and organized – all components of making habit formation manageable, easy, and sustainable.
This month, we’re going to take a look at “Trigger States,” and take a deep dive into sleep, stress, and hormones – the “behind the scenes” action of our biology that can make or break fitness results!
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