How to Change Your Habits to Achieve Any Goal

How to Change Your Habits to Achieve Any Goal

If you're like most people, you're tired of coming up short on your goals. Well, underneath your goals are your habits - the pre-programmed ways that you react to certain cues and situations. We are here to lay out how you can empower your to achieve any goal leveraging behavior science and so you can design your best self.

Yoga As Tool To Power Through Change

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A powerful story of how yoga has empowered the journey of an incredible young woman on her path to a life of greatness. And how you can use yoga in your life to advance your body, mind and wellbeing.

On The Power of Yoga

Quieting the mind; opening the heart

Yoga has been a constant in my life since I was 17 years old. When I made the choice to become a high school teacher in 2007 through the New York City Teaching Fellows program, my instinct told me to become a yoga teacher, as well. Because as a teen, yoga truly helped me learn to love myself.

I can clearly recall my first time teaching yoga at Bayard Rustin Educational Complex in 2007. The gym was on the top floor of an art deco building that looked like a castle. The hallways were decorated with murals from the 1930’s Work Projects Administration’s Federal Arts Project. Light shone in through the stone windows, and a group young women who failed gym sat in front of me, unsure what to expect. So I told them my story.

  The high school building, where yoga was on the top floor. Courtesy of NYPL.

The high school building, where yoga was on the top floor. Courtesy of NYPL.

When I was 17 years old, I worked at Double Rainbow, an ice cream shop in San Rafael, California, that had too many delicious flavors. Thank goodness for the gym across the street, where I learned yoga. My original intention for practicing yoga was to get in shape for prom. But what I found was so much more: One hour of yoga cleared my mind, and for the first time, the nagging voice in my head that stopped me from loving myself quieted down.

Giving back to the community

This is what I could offer this group of diverse teens, many who were reluctant to be at an after school gym credit make-up class: The practice that helped me learn to love myself. After a few weeks of doing yoga as a teen, when looking at myself in a mirror, I saw someone different: Beautiful, confident, ambitious. It wasn’t the physical practice of yoga, or asana, that made this change in me. Rather, it was the ability to connect my mind with my body, and see all that I was capable of.

Yes, my body went into poses that may have seemed impossible before. But it was the process of being in my body—not letting my mind drift off in a negative monologue—that helped me get to the point of self love. This was my mission teaching teens at Bayard Rustin yoga, and on the last day of our class, I was blessed with hugs and thank-yous. A few young women confided in me that the yoga class was more than a gym credit make-up for them, and that it had really impacted their sense of self.

This all happened in my past life as a special education and yoga teacher at a high school. Since then, I’ve gone through many changes. I started an office yoga company. I recently went through a life threatening health crisis. And I’m currently going through a life transition where, for the first time in my adult life, I am single. Yoga is a constant that I’ve had throughout all of this, and it has helped me through it all.

  The author in Rome demonstrating a yoga pose

The author in Rome demonstrating a yoga pose

Connection and power through change

A wise yoga teacher in Sri Lanka once told me that the only guarantee you have in life is that everything will change. We were sitting in a wooden pagoda in the lush jungle, surrounded by the songs of birds. The only guarantee in life is that everything will change. The only permanent thing you have in your life is the relationship between your mind, breath, and body. No matter what happens around you, as long as you are alive, this relationship is permanent. This is the most important and permanent relationship you have, so nurture it.

For me, yoga was the path to finding mind-breath-body connection. Many things can be considered “yoga” if we look at the translation of the word from Sanskrit as connection, or union. For other people, their path may be running, cycling, dancing. Your relationship with your body is the best tool you have to power through the guaranteed changes we will face in our volatile lives.

When you are powering through a change or transition in your life, any physical practice that brings you more connected to your mind and body will help you come out of it healthy and whole. Try this one minute sequence to start your path on to new beginnings.

 
 

And remember that you are whole, and cannot be defined by external sources like possessions, friends, even partners. Take a moment to listen to yourself breathe, and find yourself.

How to Guarantee Yourself an Authentic Travel Experience

Heading out to sea with a Nicaraguan fishing crew at 4am.

Building a yurt with a family of nomads on the Mongolian steppe.

Cruising around town looking for grub with a Guatemalan mechanic.

In the past two years, we have driven through over 40 countries. We have a lot of travel highs and a lot of travel lows, but wherever we are, we really try to dig into the local scene. And we mean scene - literally. We’re filming a TV series documenting our drive from NYC to Argentina, and the places and people we meet along the way. We’re constantly searching for stories, and our searches get us into the kitchens of restaurants, the homes of locals, and the heart of local festivals.

We used to think these amazing situations were happening because of our camera. But we’ve realized that there’s actually a formula to making deeply authentic experiences happen, and the camera isn’t part of it. You don’t need a video camera to travel like we do.

Here’s how we approach any travel scenario:

Say hello.

No excuses — whatever country you’re in, whatever language you’re speaking, the first word you learn is hello. No conversation starts without a hello, so let it come from you.

We’ve always been amazed that “people in X country are so much friendlier and happier to talk to us than they would be in New York!” But that’s because we’re likely throwing out a lot more hellos than we would be in New York. Strangers don’t really say hi to us in NYC. If they did, we probably would say hi back!

When we stopped to check on a friend’s broken down car on a village road in Tajikistan, a well-placed hello to the right person (now our friend Sino) led us to being guests of honor at the town’s lively party going on up the street. Only feet away from Afghanistan, a night of Tajik dancing, facefuls of indulgent food, and a nervous cross-language toast ensued under the Tajik mountains.

 In earshot of Afghanistan, but nobody’s turning down the music. A well-placed hello lands us in a Tajik village party.

In earshot of Afghanistan, but nobody’s turning down the music. A well-placed hello lands us in a Tajik village party.

Ask their name.

This is critically important. If you’re receiving a service, dealing with border guards, asking for something, anything — everyone has a name and you’ll rarely meet a person who won’t tell you theirs. This is the quickest way to turn any encounter from transactional to conversational, and get human to human with someone in very different shoes than you.

 In Nicaragua, a slice of pizza sometimes comes with a safe place to tent up for the night.

In Nicaragua, a slice of pizza sometimes comes with a safe place to tent up for the night.

Striking up conversation with the guy serving our pizza from a truck got us a safe place to stay in Leon, Nicaragua — Oscar invited us to tent up safely in front of his house in the middle of the city. It was a busy street with traffic and noise, but we had our (free!) spot and passed the evening making friends with the neighbors.

Ask questions and try to understand the world from their side.

By traveling you are inserting yourself into someone else’s world. You can get a surface idea of what they’re up to, but why not ask questions to get yourself a little deeper? How long have they been doing that thing they’re doing? How long have they lived here? How has the area changed in their time here? Do they have kids? What hopes do they have for their children?

Politics, money and religion are generally off limits when you’re home, but if you’re having a good conversation, don’t be afraid to get out of your conversation comfort zone. Just don’t be surprised if they reverse the questions on you.

This farm helped keep our coffee addiction alive and kicking. And for this we are grateful.

We spent a few nights with a Guatemalan family in little-known Aldea Guineales, and realized that not all illegal migrants to the States are trying to chase the American dream. In fact, a lot of them would just like to save up some money to come back and enjoy life with their families right here. After eating home-cooked meals, touring our hosts’ coffee farm, and bathing in the town’s scenic, untouched hot springs, we knew why.

Get to know the before and the after.

A lot happens before and after you enter a scene. If you’re in a restaurant, why not ask where the food comes from? If you’re dealing with a mechanic, why not ask what he does in the evenings? Ask to see how they’re cooking your dish in the kitchen, or if you can visit the market with the chef in the morning. Don’t turn down an invitation to enter your new friend’s house to meet his or her family.

In rural Nicaragua, a fisherman and his family invited us over for fish dinner. But one of us (Eric) was curious about how they would get the fish — and ended up on a fishing boat with a four-man crew at 4 o’clock the next morning. It made for epic footage and an epic experience.

L to R: Eric tries to find his place in the crew; from ocean to table in under an hour; full bellies and great spirits

Be mindful.

People often think their day-to-day lives are boring. Be their most interested face of the day. Remind them that what they’re doing is the most fascinating thing in the world to you in that moment. Your attention is the greatest gift you can give someone, so pay attention to people like they’re telling you next week’s winning lottery numbers. Don’t take out your phone to take a picture until later.

Has your mechanic done this for you?

Charlie, our mechanic in Guanajuato, Mexico, fixes cars all day, every day. But when Charlie worked on our car, we couldn’t quit following him around the underbelly of our car and asking endless questions about his work — after all, our car was in his hands. We discovered a man with real passion for his cars. Charlie rewarded our personal interest in him and his work by calling up some friends and putting on an impromptu car show for us.

Have fun.

Laugh. It helps everyone relax, and brings out the kinder, more open side of people. Even if you can’t speak the same language, laughing is universal.

Driving through Kyrgyzstan in the summer heat, water was scarce but watermelon was everywhere, sold roadside every 100 feet. We caught onto the watermelon craze and gave ourselves a challenge — empty everything from our car and see how many watermelons we can fit in and on top of it. Then, we drove around Bishkek handing out watermelons to anyone who wanted. We couldn’t speak the language, but we had genuine bouts of laughter with damn near everyone in the city. Those passing moments of shared joy made it all worth it. Also, the answer is about 52 watermelons.

Calling everyone in Bishkek: WE’VE GOT WATERMELONS!

See what you can contribute.

There’s a common sentiment that you should give more than you take in life. You’ve made yourself more vulnerable than usual by venturing out into an unknown place and you’ve been rewarded with a truly authentic experience with some locals that had no real reason beyond basic goodness to give you the time of day. You know your host better than most visitors now — what small token or act would be most impactful to them? The answer is usually not money. Give it some thought. The more practical the better.

We’ve made a lot of friends in El Transito, the rural Nicaraguan fishing village where we’ve spent the last few weeks. Tomorrow morning, we’ll lend our hands to help our friend Catherine upgrade her family’s dirt floor to something a bit more durable.

Tomorrow we’ll help Catherine make sense out of that pile of rocks. Does anyone know how to make a floor?

You may by now have noticed something about all these tips — you don’t need to be traveling to try these out. Next time you walk into a new café or restaurant, why not put this into practice? You’ll undoubtedly find there’s a much more rich, authentic human world to connect to, whether it’s the world around you or somewhere farther than you’ve ever been.

For more travel inspiration and to follow our adventure in real time, meet us at www.globalgoulets.com.

About us: We are 3 guys who quit our stable NYC jobs to drive the world and film it for TV. No crew, just us. Currently, we’re driving a busted SUV from NYC to the southernmost tip of Argentina. We’re about 5 months in and have no idea how long this will take, but get more travel inspiration and join our adventure in real-time at www.globalgoulets.com or facebook.com/globalgoulets.

Tony Robbins on Motivation and Why We Do What We Do

What gets you up out of bed and into a flow state doing great work and living life to the fullest? The answer lays beneath the surface of what we do, to why we do it.

The Secret to Motivation

There is one three-letter word that underpins everything that we do.

It is the most powerful word that can lead us to wisdom, to success, and to mastery.

It is the difference between knowledge and understanding.

The word? Why.

Why is the driver of what we do and who we are as people.

It is the moral fiber that creates willpower - those of us who are highly motivated have a strong source of purpose and are able to connect our actions and circumstances to a higher cause and to frame our efforts in the context of a greater goal.

Why We Do What We Do

Tony Robbins, the world's preeminent life coach, gave a masterful talk about motivation and the invisible forces that motivate everyone's actions. Check out the talk below:

 
 

What do you think? Life changing? Make you think?

Why There’s No Site on the Internet Quite Like BestMe

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This website is here to flip the world of self improvement on its head. We are here to help you cut out the bull---t and get right to the info and tools that can help you thrive.

It's time for a change

(Most self improvement sucks)

According to a lot of stuff on the internet today, it’s easy to be your best self.

Just do these 95 things in the morning and success is yours.

Or you can read any of the thousands of articles from massive health websites that teach you how to eat healthy, how to lose weight, how to be more productive, how to be happy.

Although these websites have the best intentions, they’re unknowingly doing something kind of freaking evil.

In almost everything they produce, no matter how hard they try not to, they highlighting all of the ways in which you’re currently not enough.

Do these 5 things to lose that stubborn belly fat, or these 10 things to have the relationship of your dreams, of these 3 simple tricks to be more productive than Elon Musk.

They tell you all of the things that you can do to be someone different, without helping you understand who you are today.

They address the surface without acknowledging the root causes of why you have weight to lose in the first place (or why you want to lose weight if you don’t need to). They tell you how to be productive without giving you context to understand why you’re procrastinating in the first place.

Why is that?

Because addressing the root cause is really freaking hard.

You might be overweight because there are unresolved emotional issues you drown out through food. Or you might think you need to lose weight because your self-esteem is totally whacked from years of abuse from the media and a system that tells kids good job for simply participating.

Or you procrastinate not because you don’t know how to be productive, but because you honestly just hate your job. No amount of Getting Things Done will make you want to work more.

It’s not that you can’t be better. You can be (all of us can be).

It’s that most websites are incentivized not to help you deal with those root causes. They need to keep you coming back day after day, reading article after article about fitness tips and recipes and productivity and happiness...

… So that they can make money from ad impressions.

They stuff you full of sweet listicles giving you tips and tricks to lose weight or be more productive. These will never help you fully achieve your goal, so you’ll always be back. And they’ll keep making $$$.

Tapping into your motivation

A crucial question is often overlooked and under-appreciated

Being down with self-improvement is great. It’s one of the most important things we can do as humans.

Personal growth is vital to fulfillment and life satisfaction.

But it’s not OK to blindly pursue improving yourself if you have don’t really know what’s driving you to be better and deciding what will actually make your life better (by better, we mean meaningful and fulfilling). It’s crucial to have a why and a how.

If you want to lose more weight, why is that? Do you need to lose weight because your current weight is putting your health at risk or because you want to attempt a new physical activity that you can’t currently do? Or are you losing weight because when you look in the mirror, you get fucking sad and start hating yourself and you think being fit will make you happy. Both are valid, but in both cases when you achieve your goal of “fitness” how fulfilled you feel could be very different.

Having a baseline understanding of why you want what you want is so important to actually getting anything positive out of your efforts of self improvement.

How do you figure out your "why?"

You don’t need to go to therapy to figure it out (although it helps). Simply asking some surface questions will push you in the right direction.

Understanding your motivating factors will help you figure out if the goals you’re pursuing are being pursued for reasons you actually believe in, or if they’re for shitty reasons that don’t actually align with who you want to be

Sometimes you may find yourself stuck in such a rut that making any change, regardless of the reason, is good. It helps you get going. It motivates you.

Mark Manson calls this the do something principle, and it’s that simple action motivates you to make more change. But long term change almost always requires evaluation of your true motivations.

Being your Best Me

What does being your best self mean?

Now let’s deal with the idea of your best self, or what we call your best me.

If you think about the idea of your Best Me, what do you feel?  

It’s a nice idea right? Being the best version of yourself.

But what is the best version of you? How similar is that person to whom you are today?

If you’re like any normal human being living in today’s modern media culture, the person you want to be is vastly different than who you think you are now.

And that is an evil, insidious problem in today's world. It’s not natural.

The idea of your ideal self being better than who you are today is not inherent to the human condition, just inherent to the modern (aka Western) human condition.

We are bombarded by messages that tell us we can be better.

Buy this gum, and you’ll get a hot date!

Use this face wash, and you’ll be popular!

Drink this brand of beer, and, woooooo weee, is your life going to be awesome!

It’s not that you can’t be better, it’s just that no one product is going to change your life completely. You know this, and yet it rarely sinks in. What you need is a change in the way you think about and approach self improvement.

The crazy truth is that you are much closer to your “best me” than you probably give yourself credit for.

But since this idea has been so hidden from you, you chase phantoms instead.

You look for happiness in the numbers on a scale, or in your relationships, or in the size of your paycheck.

Being your best me is not about being some magical person who has all of these incredible qualities that you don’t have today. It’s not about doing everything the internet tells you to do to be better.

If I asked you to rattle off the top of your head what the best version of yourself did every week, you’d might say something along the lines of :

Eat super healthy, lots of veggies, limit red meat, workout 4 times a week, meditate, be focused at work, spend time with all of the important people in my life, etc.

But if I asked what the happy, fulfilled version of yourself would do every week, it would probably be something along the lines of:

Eat pretty healthy most of the time, but eat burgers and burritos when I wanted to. Work out consistently, but accept that sometimes other shit comes up or I’m just too tired. Meditate in the mornings, be focused but also not crazy because work is not my life. And yeah, I’ll spend time with family and friends, but I’ve only got so much time and I can’t please everyone.

And that’s the thing about your best me, it’s not all that different to who you are today. Your best me isn’t a different version of yourself. It’s just a person who is a little more focused on doing the right things on a daily basis, and a little more forgiving when you don’t do those things.

When is the best time to plant a tree?

So how do you get there? How do you figure this out?

Honestly, it’s not easy and it takes time.

Part of it is acknowledging that there’s almost never one thing that will turn your life around completely.

It’s a process of learning that who you want to be and who you are today are much closer to each other than you realize.

It’s about understanding the true motivations for why you want to change, not just the surface reasons you tell yourself.

It’s about getting comfortable with the idea that maybe your best self isn’t an end goal, but a reality that you can live each and every day.

It’s about realizing that you can’t do everything and you can’t be everything, so that self-improvement is in many ways more about choosing what not to improve and being very selective about what you do improve.

Part of it is acknowledging that life is a struggle and there will always be suffering, and we’re probably not ever going to live in a state of pure bliss. And that that is ok.

These things don’t happen in a day. They take time.

But as the saying goes: The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

We aren’t saying that your mindset needs to be perfect before you start taking action to improve. Acknowledging the importance of mindset is a big step. But the mental game can be improved with the physical.

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How will BestMe help you with your goals?

We're dedicated to serving you, and we're transparent

The company BestMe makes money by selling products that can make your life better.

This may seem contradictory to what we are saying above, but hopefully you’ll understand why it’s not.

People who are in blind pursuit of self-improvement will be overwhelmed by this site because there are so many ways to “improve."

But when you get clear about what you really want, you’ll be able to browse this site and find the exact tools that will help you on your mission.

We see these tools as training wheels to help you get your journey started.

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This company is made up of people who care deeply about you. That seems like corporate BS, but it’s true.

You’re not just random data point on an analytics dashboard. You’re not a dollar sign. You’re here because you want to make yourself better, and we take that responsibility seriously (even if we make poop jokes sometimes).

We’ve lived through eating disorders, depression, anxiety, mania and more. We’ve lived through deaths of family members, layoffs, and illness.

The reality is we’re still living through some of those things.

And what we’ve learned, from our own experience and the experience of thousands of others, is that when we are doing things for the wrong reasons, things generally don’t turn out well.

We work really hard and get a massive promotion, or we buy a fitbit and lose twenty pounds. Yet we feel just as empty as before (and we of course always put those twenty pounds back on).

Since we never got our minds straight from the start, we were doomed for failure.

To use this site properly, you need to work on both your mental and physical game.

You need to understand which products will actually work for you, and which products are going to be a quicksand trap for your money (we can help you make these decisions if you’re willing to trust us).

You need to understand what is worth improving right now, what can wait, and what simply isn’t worth it.

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BestMe.com  is a website that makes its money recommending products. We have a store filled with books, wearables, programs, and services that can make your life better.

That doesn’t mean you need all of them.

It means that when you decide that you want to accomplish something, we’ve got some tools that we’ve researched the shit out of that we think can make your journey easier.

We hope that makes sense to you, but we’re happy to tell you more.

If you want to ask some questions, get in touch, or get some recommendations about some tools to help you on your journey, feel free to fill out the form below.

Set up your kitchen for effortless healthy eating

Being a healthy eater does not mean relying on willpower all the time. You can set yourself up for rapid, easy success by setting up your kitchen and your eating habits with scientifically-backed life hacks.

Taking a Winning Approach

Are you giving your healthy eating a fair shot?

When people say they want to be a healthier eater, often they don't set themselves up for success.

My perspective? I decided to quit smoking cigarettes, I would flush the last of my smokes down the toilet. I wouldn’t buy a few packs to keep around the house.

If I decided that I’m going to be less of a couch potato, I might invest in some running shoes. I wouldn’t buy a comfy recliner with a built-in massager and a new 60-inch flatscreen.

These ideas seem obvious when it comes to smoking or exercising, but people often sabotage themselves in a similar way when trying to eat better by having a home environment that is in direct opposition to their goals.

 
 That's right stock photo man... tomorrow we whip your butt into shape.

That's right stock photo man... tomorrow we whip your butt into shape.

 

By optimizing your home to promote healthier food choices, you can increase your likelihood of success. I’m going to share with you some powerful tips for overhauling your kitchen to make healthy eating effortless. But before we get into the nitty gritty of setting up your kitchen, let’s have a quick word on why this is necessary.

Willpower alone will not work long-term! While it’s tempting to think that we can achieve an ideal diet on sheer willpower, doing so is unlikely. According to the American Psychological Association, there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest we only have a finite amount of mental energy that gets depleted when we exercise self-control. 1

This theory is called ego depletion, and it helps explain why we end up fizzling out on fad diets or grab some junk food after a taxing day. So rather than drawing from our limited willpower supply to make better food choices, let’s make healthy eating automatic so we can do it for life and spend our precious mental energy elsewhere.

Now that we understand why it’s necessary, let’s prime our kitchens for success.

Healthy Eating Success Hacks

1. Toss out the foods that you don’t want around

This will be different for each person, but let’s assume that most of us want to eat less sugar and processed foods. Throw out all the foods in your fridge and pantry with excessive amounts of sugar, trans fats, and unnatural additives. Check out the ingredient lists on your food. Some unwanted ingredients can hide under a variety of names. For example, sugar may show up as dextrose, fructose, or corn syrup, and trans fats are often listed as hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. Here is a helpful list of pseudonyms for sugar. Familiarize yourself with all of these terms to know what to look for when doing your inventory.

Also ignore any buzzwords on the front of food packages (healthy, natural, fat-, gluten-, sugar-, or basically anything-”free”) as these can be misleading. Gasoline is also gluten-free, sugar-free, and fat-free. That doesn’t mean you should have a glass with your breakfast!

 
  "Babe, let's stop at this gas station, their diesel seems healthier than that other brand..."

"Babe, let's stop at this gas station, their diesel seems healthier than that other brand..."

 

2. Make healthy foods convenient

Now that you’ve ditched the junk, you’ve got some space to fill. Buy foods that you know nourish your body and that you enjoy. This is a very personal choice, but do make sure that there are lots of fruits and vegetables involved. Make these healthy foods visible because you will eat what you see most frequently. One great way to do this is to keep a fruit bowl on your counter. The Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University has found that people with a fruit bowl on their kitchen counter are more likely to be trim and healthy than those who have a kitchen counter with cereal, candy, or chips.2

Following the same idea, try to make vegetables visible and easy to grab. Have some carrots, celery, and peppers pre-washed and pre-cut and placed in clear containers at the front of your fridge. When you go to grab a snack, these brightly colored foods can catch your eye and make it easy to make a nutritious choice. 

 
  Doesn't this look delicious? Even if they're plastic I'd eat them

Doesn't this look delicious? Even if they're plastic I'd eat them

 

3. Make unhealthy foods inconvenient

If throwing out all of your chips--or any other unhealthy food--seems too daunting at first, you can keep some. Just put them in an inconvenient location like above the fridge or in the back of the pantry behind some healthier choices. In the fridge, you can wrap up tempting foods with foil and place them behind your vegetables. When you don’t see these tempting foods all the time, you will naturally find yourself eating them less often.

 
  Bury the oreos! It's the only way!

Bury the oreos! It's the only way!

 

4. Use smaller plates and glasses

In addition to controlling the quality of our food, we can also change our environment to control the quantity of food we eat. Using smaller plates and glasses promotes smaller portion sizes. By simply having smaller serving dishes, you will decrease the amount of food you need to feel satisfied. 2, 3

 
  You want plates like this... only tinier

You want plates like this... only tinier

 

Organize your kitchen with these tips, and you can make healthier eating easy. By reducing your reliance on willpower and self-control, you increase the likelihood of keeping up the positive changes for the long haul. And here’s a great bonus: the act of organizing your kitchen itself can immediately prevent overconsumption by promoting a feeling of control and calm in your home.4

So take an afternoon, get up out of that sweet massaging recliner, and set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy eating.


5 habits to make healthy eating stick

Wouldn't it be cool if being a healthy eater came naturally? It can, and your life can continue to be delicious. It comes down to making smart choices about how you get, prepare and eat your food. And here's a great place to start to get there with ease.

The Healthy Eating Playbook

It's all about moderation

Each one of us makes a decision about what we are going to eat 3 - 6 times every single day. That’s quite a bit. And each of those decisions has a short term and long term impact.

The individual decisions we make will influence how we feel just after a meal or a few hours later. Sometimes we’re fine feeling like crap for a few hours, so we eat football size burrito or a burger with a side of fries and onion rings. Sometimes we want to feel energized and healthy, so we go for the salad.

However, these decisions also add up over time. Opt for the burrito, the burger and fries to option, and over time we’ll likely notice a general sluggishness, some weight gain, and potentially disease. Over-index on salads and we’ll likely feel much more energized and youthful, fit, and healthy.

It’s not that choosing a burger and fries is bad, it’s that we want to understand our individual decisions in a larger context. A good rule of thumb is to make the healthy choice 80% of the time, or 4 in every 5 meals.

In order to incorporate healthy eating into your life, it’s important to build healthy habits. Here are five habits that can make healthy eating easy and automatic.

Simple, Smart Success Drivers

1. Cook for yourself

While the convenience of eating out or ordering delivery is tempting, it’s expensive and often unhealthy, making it a poor choice for your waistline and your bottom line (and your bottom’s line). Restaurants care about taste, not about health. And you know what makes food taste good? Fat and salt. Restaurants will add butter and oil to your meals in ways you never thought possible.

Learning to cook for yourself is one of the most powerful ways to improve your health. And if you approach it in a smart way, cooking can be quick and easy.

Start by learning a few staple dishes that you enjoy eating often. Once you have those down your confidence will grow and you can begin to explore new cuisines. It’s also great to have some quick healthy recipes in your back pocket so you can have a nourishing meal ready in minutes any time hunger comes along.

If you want some pre-made structure so you don’t even have to think about cooking, check out a meal-kit delivery service which gives you a recipe + all of the ingredients to cook a delicious meal.

 
  A salad like this is actually pretty easy to make

A salad like this is actually pretty easy to make

 

2. Shop like a healthy person

Cooking for yourself doesn’t do much good if the only foods you have at home are crap. In order to create healthy food, you need healthy ingredients, which means you must shop with this goal in mind.

Avoid going to the store hungry and grabbing whatever catches your eye. Instead, go with a list of healthy ingredients you enjoy. If you need to make a quick trip and don’t have time for a list, avoid setbacks by sticking to the produce section and steering clear of the chip and candy aisles. Your last challenge comes at the checkout, where the snacks try to tempt you one last time. Look at the magazines instead, even if sensational gossip isn’t your thing.

Or, you can skip the grocery store altogether and get your groceries delivered straight to your house.

 
  Ok, maybe toss in some Tate's chocolate chip cookies and this becomes more realistic

Ok, maybe toss in some Tate's chocolate chip cookies and this becomes more realistic

 

3. Eat more plant-based foods

Fruits and vegetables are the basis for a healthy diet. Plants are bursting with health-supporting compounds that work together to help your body perform at its best.

In fact, studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet is associated with a lower overall BMI, lower risk for diabetes, lower risk for heart disease, and lower blood pressure.1

We recommend trying to eat some plant foods with every meal, even breakfast. Vegetables for breakfast might not sound appealing, but give it a try and see how much better you feel all day. Add spices or your favorite sauces to bland veggies to make them taste better. Saute them in olive oil if you don’t like baked or steamed veggies.

In the end, if you focus on getting more plant-based foods in your diet, your intake of unhealthy foods will naturally be reduced as the fruits and vegetables take their place.

 
  Getting the picture yet? Eat more of this stuff.

Getting the picture yet? Eat more of this stuff.

 

4. Drink more water

Water is crucial for proper body function, yet few people drink enough. In fact, up to 75% of Americans may be chronically under-hydrated.2

Properly hydrating helps to regulate hunger, increase energy, and improve your mood. Like with plant foods, get some water into your body as early as possible in the morning to notice benefits all day long. Replace one soda or juice drink per day with water. If that sounds too daunting, start by diluting your juice with water. This will lower your sugar intake while keeping your body hydrated.

We recommend starting every morning with a glass of ice water. It wakes you up, rehydrates you, and gets your metabolism going.

 
  Just watch out for the "surprise seltzer," it'll get ya every time

Just watch out for the "surprise seltzer," it'll get ya every time

 

5. Eat mindfully

Sit down and enjoy each meal without distraction. Be aware of the process. Chew your food well and enjoy every bite. This allows you to eat less food but get much more enjoyment out of it.

It’s so easy to let our eating habits reflect the seemingly haphazard nature of our lives. We eat on the move, in the car, at our desks, and while watching television. When we don’t pay attention to what we put in our bodies, it’s easy to overeat. We open a bag of chips and reach in for a handful. When we reach down for what we think is our second handful we realize the bag is empty and we just mindlessly ate the whole bag.

However, if we can pay attention to what we are eating, we will not only have more control over what we will eat (mindful eating may be associated with healthy weight management3), but we’ll get more pleasure from what we do eat. We may only need a few pieces of chocolate instead of a full bar. A few french fries instead of a super-sized portion.

With mindful eating, we can have our cake and eat it too.

 
  Mmmmm... Cake.....

Mmmmm... Cake.....

 

Summing it up

Cooking at home, strategic shopping, adding plant foods, drinking more water, and eating mindfully are five powerful habits that will support your healthy eating goals. By making these habits part of your daily routine, you will make proper nourishment automatic and won’t have to constantly fight the urge to eat damaging foods. You will also rediscover the pleasure that food can, and should, bring to your life.


Sources
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/

2. http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393

3. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

I Ate Veggies For Breakfast for 30 Days In A row

Ok, that headline is a bit misleading. I tried to eat veggies 30 days in a row. However, smack dab in the middle of my veggie breakfast challenge, my first son, Dean, was born. Although that may have caused most people to switch from #veggiebreakfast to #McDonaldsbreakfast, I did my best to stick to the challenge (finding a routine that you can stay committed to even as your conditions change is the key to living a healthy life).

It was actually a bit easier than expected, because there are few things more energizing than starting your day with some veggies (in my humble opinion). Instead of carb-loaded cereal breakfast that sends you on a blood-sugar rollercoaster, or a greasy breakfast sandwich, a veggie breakfast gives you sustained energy that makes you feel freaking awesome about yourself.

Below are excerpts from my Facebook over the 30-day challenge, which took place from September 1st - September 30th, 2016.

Day 0

Lots of people ask me how to get more veggies into their diet. One great way is to start early! Working them into your breakfast is a perfect way to start your day. I'm challenging myself (and all of you!) to eat vegetables with my breakfast every day in September. I'll be posting tips, recipes, and progress reports throughout the month here and on Instagram (@i.am.carson). Please join me! I'd love to check out your ideas and see how this works for you!

Day 1

Oats and lentils with avocado, tomato, and green onions. Veggies in oatmeal?! Carson, have you gone mad?! Join me and tag your pics with #veggiebreakfast

Day 2

Potato hash with veggies galore. Carrots, broccoli, onion, pepper, collard greens, and mushrooms. Mostly from @edibleearthfarm thanks guys! There's a 50:50 chance I'll have leftovers.

Day 3

Funky BEETS and spinach with berries. Happy Labor Day weekend everybody!

Day 4

En garde!! Still full from pizza and ice cream last night (yeah, I still know how to party!) so just munched some celery. I see a big veggie lunch in my future though.

Day 4.jpg

Day 5

Just because it's Labor Day doesn't mean you can't put in a little bit of work! Had a great run in the park and then made a veggie omelette and smoothie for Day 5 of the #veggiebreakfast challenge. Have a wonderful day everyone and enjoy all the things you work so hard for!

Day 6

Laura made a smoothie with spinach right after I got home from the gym and I chugged it! No time for a pic!
 

Day 7

Mushrooms, peppers, onion, and greens with eggs. Here's a tip: If you don't want to chop veggies every morning (ain't nobody got time for that!) cut some up on Sunday night to use for the week. 

Day 8

Pop quiz! Why am I smiling?

A. I'm eating a #veggiebreakfast for day 8 of the challenge

B. I just exercised

C. I'm not wearing pants

Day 9

Salad for breakfast. Crazy, you say? I say you're crazy not to try it. Rocket fuel to start your day off right! I had some ginger cashew dressing I needed to use, so this was a perfect fit.  #veggies #nomnom #plantpower #eatmoreveggies

Day 11

Not pictured: knob of ginger (he accidentally overslept on picture day). #eatmoreveggies #plantpower #veggies

On September 12th (aka Day 12) my first son, Dean, was born. This derailed me for a few days, but not for good. I made sure to get back into the groove.

Day 16

Back on track after a few hectic days welcoming my son Dean into the world! Self-care is not a selfish act. You have to take care of yourself if you want to show up 100% for the people you love. And I love this guy! #veggies #plantpower #fatherhood

Day 17

Prepping ahead of time made this meal possible. Still squeezed in a great meal with just a little downtime from our new supreme overlord (Dean) #plantpower #veggies #fatherhood #mealprep

Day 18 + 19

Veggie breakfast challenge Day 19. I've eaten the same thing for three days straight (See Day 17 for pic). It's not very sexy or entertaining for social media purposes, but it's great to have an easy and healthy recipe to fall back on when things get hectic (like when your son decides to show up four weeks early!) Take care of yourselves today, everybody!

Day 20

Current mood: tired and happy! Have a wonderful day everybody! #plantpower #eatmoreveggies #fatherhood#veggies #sleepdeprived

 

Day ???

What day is it? Is it still September? Leftover stuffed banana peppers with avocado. #plantpower #veggies #fatherhood #sleepdeprived

 

Day 25

Beet, Carrot, Greens, and Avocado in this glass of goodness. Big thanks to everybody that has posted pics or chimed in with comments during the challenge! I love hearing from you all so keep 'em coming while we close out the month strong. #plantpower #veggies #smoothie
 

Day 27

Veggie breakfast challenge Day 27. Get over those post-debate what-the-hell-is-happening-with-this-crazy-ass-presidential-election blues with some scrumptulescent rocket fuel! Added avocado, sweet potato, and tomatoes to my oatmeal.
 

Day 28 & 29

Getting Autumnal with a sweet potato smoothie. Walnuts, pecans, sweet potato, oats, flax, cinnamon, vanilla, and frozen bananas. #veggies #iyamwhoiyam #plantpower #eatmoreplants

Day 28 29.jpg

 

Day 30

Last day of the #veggiebreakfast challenge! Big salad with @edibleearthfarm lettuce, radishes, and carrots. It's been a crazy month with the early arrival of our son, and it's been great to start every day with some plants to keep me going. We won't count my hospital breakfast of saltines and peanut butter. Have a great Friday lovely people! #veggies #plantpower #eatmoreplants #fatherhood