With the fast-paced lifestyles we all lead, making as few decisions as possible will help set you up for better health. Making the right food choices or summoning up the willpower to hit the gym can be challenging at times. I will show you in this article how to be more compliant and successful with adhering to a set routine with a very small lifestyle shift.
We’ve all had those days when 4pm rolls around, you’re tired from work, and you feel like indulging in a late afternoon cake or piece of candy. In this small crisis, you convince yourself to skip the gym tonight, and promise yourself that you will go early the next day instead. The next day, you hit the snooze button and put the gym off till that evening. [Insert vicious cycle here].
Having no structured routine and a sea of choices leaves things open to opportunities to make excuses. When you are trying to zero in on your health and fitness goals, this can be a massive roadblock. Taking proactive steps, planning, and cutting out some of the choices you have to make each day pertaining to your health and fitness is key.
What Is Decision Fatigue?
Wikipedia defines decision fatigue as “the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making.” A study at Columbia University even reported that judges in court make less favorable rulings as the day drags on.1
If you don’t take a hands-on approach to shortcutting decisions, decision fatigue can kick in earlier in the day, and chances are you will feel like hitting the couch after work rather than the gym. Most people wake up with just enough time to decide what clothes to wear and grab something for breakfast, at best. That leaves the decision about if you’re going to go for a run or hit the gym later up in the air.
Don’t leave your health up to the random chance you will make the right choices when you’re tired! Buy it and book it, with no chance of a refund or changing your mind. Every good salesman knows that giving too many options is never a good thing. The same applies to your diet and training regimen. Take away options and complexity to ensure better compliance.
Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama all chose to wear the same or similar outfits every day, so they could be more productive in their respective fields. Success has left us clues and principles that can be applied to your training and nutrition.
How to Remove Decisions From Your Fitness
If you’re someone who struggles to stick with your fitness or nutrition plan, you must find a combination of accountability, habit, results, and enjoyment. Without those, you will be one of the many that start and never follow through long enough to see the results.
This is crucial concept that will help you follow through, even when times are tough and you might not feel like it. Having a coach there, making sure you are checking the boxes each day, has a multitude of benefits for accountability. Not only does your coach give you expert guidance, but the social pressure of not letting the coach down helps you make the right decision and show up for each session.
You can similarly create accountability with a partner, friend or colleague. Get them to commit with you to a minimum of twelve months of training together and checking up on each other’s nutrition. Twelve months might sound like a long time, but if you are serious about turning a commitment into a lifestyle, those that can last 12 months create a habit for the rest of their lives. It might sound a little narcissistic, but posting on social media can create accountability by announcing to everyone what your intentions are. You may even find unexpected encouragement and support from family and friends.
The secret to your long-term success is, without a doubt, habit. Once your training and nutrition have embedded themselves into your lifestyle, all the hard decisions are gone. Health no longer becomes a choice; it is a necessity.
Seeing results has a powerful reinforcing effect on your psychology to continue with your training and to continue to eat well. They reinforce the reasons why you are maintaining your newfound habits. If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing. Take photos, measurements, blood work, and anything that can show a positive change. This is a tool for your continued success. If you’re not getting the favorable results that you expected, then go see an expert. Chances are you will learn ways to keep improving.
It seems obvious, but you are more likely to continue with something that you enjoy doing, rather than beating your head against a brick wall and hoping that it will feel better soon. If you don’t like the gym, try gymnastics, CrossFit, basketball, whatever! There is no one way that it has to be done. Anyone who says, “this is the only way” doesn’t know what they are talking about. Training and healthy eating shouldn’t be a chore; it must be pleasurable and rewarding. If you are struggling with enjoyment, find yourself a coach, trainer, or person that is truly inspired and enjoys what they do. You will find their attitude infectious, and the enjoyment will flow through to yourself.
Wear the same clothes every day. Commit yourself to your goals. Make fewer decisions, and you will find success in health and fitness.
1. Danziger, Shai, Jonathan Levav, and Liora Avnaim-Pesso. “Extraneous factors in judicial decisions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108, no. 17 (2011): 6889-6892.