Written by Boom Fitness Trainer, Brendan Jones

 

The environment we place ourselves in on a day to day basis has a greater impact on our habits than most realize. These habits are done automatically, without intention and are reinforced contextually. The autonomous reactions to our environment create habits and it is our job to consciously create an environment that enhances positive lifestyle habits. The two areas this will be the most evident in our field is exercise and eating habits.

Changing habits in eating and exercising can be aided by taking the automaticity out of the act. By doing so, the good intentions to eat better and exercise regularly play a stronger role. This is done by changing the environment surrounding us and the habit. Justin Kompf, CSCS, mentions:

“Individuals who have a strong habit for popcorn consumption during movies will eat similar amounts regardless of the taste of the popcorn or how hungry they actually are. However, this consumption pattern may be dependent upon context. For example individuals with a strong habit to consume popcorn during a movie eat just as much as those with a low habit when the context is changed. People who have a strong habit for eating popcorn eat less by switching to eating with their non-dominant hand. These contextual changes presumably work by removing the automaticity of the task which generates some level of intentional control”.

In this example the context was changed by switching to eating with the non-dominant hand. While the contextual change works, so does the change in environment.

In conclusion, to disrupt unhealthy habits we must allow ourselves the opportunity to let our good intentions take hold. We accomplish this by taking the ease and convenience of bad habits away and input ways to reinforce new healthy choices. When those healthy acts become automatic we have reshaped our habits to be positive.

Staff Picks:
Smaller plates when eating food / Sparkling water instead of soda / Dipping fork in salad dressing rather than pouring it on / Putting sweets in cold, inconvenient places / Oranges instead of sweets / Water, water, water, water / Eat veggies first before eating anything else on your plate / Intentionally eating at the table / Shopping list and going while full / Place gym bag by the door / Wear exercise clothes more often / Find an accountability partner (Maybe a trainer) / Find a workout partner that is dependent upon you / Health monitors / At home workouts when unable to get to the gym / Walk as many places as you can / Write down what you are going to do / Accomplish one task to be a catalyst to many more