Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Changing our environment to change us. Building A. N.E.T. of success!

In grad school I learned something that stayed with me and is important for fitness success. It is that education does not change habits, environment does. Education can play an important role by leading to a change in environment but alone has a limited impact. As public health professionals we learned from years of failed campaigns. A good example of this is smoking.
Although public health professionals were educating people for years about smoking's harmful effects smoking rates remained very high with little decrease. We came to find out that people already knew that smoking caused cancer and heart disease. When campaigns started pushing policy changes and social norms the numbers began to plum-it. The Truth Campaign started focusing on how "gross" smoking was instead of how "bad it was for you". Youth especially responded immediately. They knew it was bad for them but the social perception started to change and therefore their environment. How many of us know that we should eat better and exercise more but don't do it?

So how do we change our environment to change us? It is pointless to start a new plan or workout routine if we don't put some focused effort into the factors that surround us that have brought us to what we have become. Although this list is by no means all inclusive it is a start. I call it building A. N.E.T. and this is my acronym so quote fitfamilymeals.blogspot.com if you use it ;)

Building A. N.E.T. of success in your environment:

A-Accountability. Be a accountable to someone. Whether it is a trainer, husband, meal planner, workout partner, group fitness instructor, co-worker or boss. If it doesn't work to be accountable to a certain person try it with someone else. As a side note it doesn't work very well for me to be accountable to my husband for my nutrition and exercise goals not because he is not important but because I know he will love me unconditionally.

N- Network. Rearrange your social network so that it is supportive rather than destructive to your goals. Ask your friends, family members and coworkers for their help. Tell them this is important to you and explain what you are doing. When we ask our loved ones for help they are so much more accommodating then when they feel like you are trying to change them in some way by what you are doing. Also as far as network goes try to build a challenge with friends. This can be a great way to help with goals. Set up a biggest loser contest or my favorite, a dinner date challenge with friends. Set reachable goals and do it for two weeks. If one of you messes up you buy a person dinner. If no one messes up you buy your own dinner and have a great meal with friends. Also there is something called a healthy habits challenge. That has been awesome for me. You can set up your own but here is a link to my sisters site that she set up.

E- Enough. Do not sabotage yourself by not eating enough. We are human beings with a strong hunger protection instinct. Recent studies have found that once blood sugar gets low so do inhibitions. Solid determination to eat better deteriorates when we get hungry. Find a plan with enough calories for your individual caloric needs. Figure in you training and prepare against hunger. This is why I like the 6 meals. It isn't for scientific reasons it is purely a survival thing for me. Have healthy snacks always on hand so that you don't get low on calories. A postworkout meal is so important if you are working out. Although it contains additional calories it prevents a person from becoming ravenous later on and eating a lot of calories in one sitting. Not to mention the benefit of repair that it will do for the body. Drink enough water to keep your gut full and lessen your hunger. Everyone's water needs are different depending on size, climate, gender and activity level.

T-Temptation- you can guess what this means. GET IT OUT! Keep it out of the house. Throw it away or give it to a neighbor or food bank. Remember it is better to waste it then waist it. You will either waste it in the garbage or waist it in the midsection and waste time and money later on working it off at the gym. Avoid places that break you. (For example, no way am I going to a chocolate fondue party anytime soon) When you are on a strict meal plan is not a time to make brownies or bread for the neighbors or an unhealthy Fettuccine Alfredo for the family. Do your best to keep your environment clean so you can eat clean. A planned cheat meal once a week can help some people while it is only a trigger for others. Get familiar with how your body responds and prepare accordingly.

Good luck! Happy healthy eating!

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