Building awareness into your food choices- No Peanut Butter November
Do you find yourself snacking too much in the evening, even though you're not hungry? You're not alone! Hi, my name is Jessica and I have #peanutbutterproblems. Really though, we all have eating habits that we would like to improve and that's what No Peanut Butter November is about for me. Regardless of what area you want to improve, here is my formula for making change happen:
November 1, 2018- Day 1
Always start with why. Let's take making nutrition changes for example, in your own life. You have personal goals, targets, health concerns, preferences, so why would you follow or mimic the choices of someone else? We all have friends and family members who try new and exciting "diets", trends or foods, and we think it may work for us, but in reality, YOU are the only expert in your life and have to make choices that's best for you.
The only way I know how to make decisions, keeping yourself in mind, is to ask yourself why? Why are you doing it? And get deeper, seek deeper answers within yourself other than aesthetics, truly dig deep and ask why? and then, ask why again? Until you come down to the deeper reason. Once you have your WHY, and are ready to make positive changes in a certain area, here are some steps to focus on.
1. Identify your weakness and be ok with it. If we are honest, weakness sounds like a bad or negative thing, but in reality this can be anything we want to improve upon, big or small.. 2. Make a decision to change it. This means, you have a no plan B, plan A. You are choosing to make change happen, and committing to it. If you started with WHY, and have a real, deep connection with the change you're wanting to make, then this should be easier than you think to make that mental connection. 3. Make a plan to change that behavior. Nothing happens by accident. You need a plan. If you program a change into your GPS, it is the step-by-step directions that will take you there, and those directions are the plan. 4. Follow through with your plan. And even if you fail (which you won't because you're awesome) you will fail forward. Having a plan, and following it through to the best of you abilities is the absolute essence of exercising your willpower muscle. You are building confidence and strategies in what you do, and creating a bank of experience to pull on in the future.
November 7th, 2018 - Day 7
Always start with why, why are you doing it? This will make the process so much more bearable! I had an IG follower comment "I didn't know peanut butter was bad". And my answer is , it IS NOT BAD! I did not begin no-peanut-butter- November because it is bad....I did it to prove to myself that I have willpower, and to practice putting that willpower to good use, to create mindfulness and more enjoyment in my food choices. There are many other ways to create awareness or exercise willpower but you need to do you, find what works, find your why.
Here are some observations I have noted in myself so far as it relates to behavior change:
I am missing PB, but not craving it
I still have snack cravings in the evening which has inspired me to create new #cleantreat recipes
Am watching less TV = less of a need to snack #learned behavior. I enjoy a good 30 minute wind down at the end of the day and typically while watching TV, but this combined with cravings is typically a bad combo, so doing this has encouraged me to actually watch less TV all together, which is never a bad thing.
The reality of it....the habit I am trying to shake, is snacking mindlessly in the evening, and even though peanut butter is not an option, I am finding alternatives to snack on...so is that really any better? Well, you know that they say Rome wasn't built in a day...and it is the PROCESS not PERFECTION that we are going for, so please keep reminding yourself that, and be patient with yourself, don't feel guilty for not being "perfect" and just make sure you are taking time along your behavior change journey to actually learn something along the way.
November 14th, 2018- DAY 14
What can I say, the struggle is real. Have you ever made changes to your eating or any routine for that matter? It is a challenge because we are essentially doing 1 of 2 things, 1) We are breaking and old habit and 2) We are training a new one....and as much as we would like to think we are stellar at multi tasking, the truth is we are not! So when making behavior changes of any kind, have a 2 fold strategy:
1. A Strategy to deal with breaking the old habit
Let's take #nopeanutbutter #november for example... snacking on excessive amounts of peanut butter in the evening was the habit I was trying to change, so to support this change I decided not to have it in the house, and instead have other snack options available to balance out nutrients like fruit , that I don't get enough of during the day. Sure, this is obvious ..if you don't want to have peanut butter, get it out of the house, but what about the root cause as to why we snack? If we keep asking ourselves why? why? why? You will get to the root cause of your habit, and you can start to develop NEW habits, that are better for you.
Here was my story and why...No peanut butter snacking in the evening. Why? Because I overeat it, when I'm not hungry. Why? Because in the evening when I am relaxing, I am winding down and bored. Why? Because I am tired, and watching TV and want to eat while I'm watching TV, that's what I've always done! Now here is where number 2 strategy comes into play.
2. A strategy to start a new habit.
After you ask yourself why...you may realize it is linked to a learned behavior (me for example- when watching TV, I stay awake later, snack more. So then the strategy I am currently executing...GO TO BE EARLIER). What does your why lead you to? What new habit can you develop? Now you switch focus on building that new habit into your routine, and not just mourning the loss or the change of breaking the initial habit. For my example:
930-1045pm- relax in the evening with TV/snacks/phone
Trying this out:
9- 930pm- relax in the evening, TV/snacks
Bed 945 pm- read until 10
YOU are the only expert in your own life, and you will know what may or may not work for you, and it is all trial and error, but this is what has been working for me so far. Making SMALL changes and focusing on building a new habit, not just kicking an old one.
November 22, 2018 : Day 22 of NO Peanut Butter
Throughout these last 22 days, anytime I have stopped to reflect, re-evaluate or re-consider my choice, I have always had to ask myself WHY. WHY did you do this to begin with? Basically, starting with my why and re-connecting with it, gives you more motivation when times get tough. So here are some steps to continue to MAXIMIZE change, and forward growth, when you go through the troubles and efforts of behavior change.
Let's think about it like this. We are all familiar with "fad diets" and people wanting to "lose weight"- eeek, please people, let's take it easy on this, weight is just a number! But because this is something most people can relate to, I will use it as an example. People embark on a "diet", let's say a 4 or 6 week plan, with the intent to loose weight, for whatever WHY they have defined, or maybe just because they think they should, or they were told to. The whole goal of these weeks are to lose weight, it is not to learn new behaviors, try new things, learn about healthier food choices, it is simply result focused---weight. So what happens at the end of the diet? Did you learn ANYTHING valuable that can serve you for the rest of your life, or did you just achieve a new number on the scale, but no mental shift? WHY put yourself through torment, only to change a number? My point, focus on the behaviors, not the number. Which brings me to my topic of habit stacking.
I began no peanut butter November, not because PEANUT BUTTER is bad for me, it is not! In fact, it is full of healthy fats. I simply ate too much in the evening, with the key being too much evening snacking. So what I have done (and you can read above), was started to go to bed earlier, eliminating the mindless snacking, and in turn, sleeping better, and waking up earlier with more productive days. Now I thought, well what else can be done to FULLY maximize this extra time I have created (in bed at night, and waking in the morning)--KEEP IT CLEAN PEOPLE :P ....I will read. I have said for ages that I wanted to start reading, and in the last 3 years, can count on 1 hand how many books I read...terrible.
So I began to HABIT STACK, building new habits into existing routine. New habit: reading, existing routine: going to bed early, habit stacking. Another example is this... When you clean up after dinner at night and the kitchen is already somewhat messy, make your lunch for the next day, habit stack. New habit: making lunch at night, existing routine: cleaning up from dinner, habit stacking. Here is a googled definition of habit stacking :
Habit stacking is a strategy you can use to group together small changes into a routine that you follow daily. The key to consistency is to treat a habit stack like a single action instead of a series of individual tasks.
There is no right or wrong way to do it, but you just NEED TO START, and building these new habits. To give yourself a little kick, try listening to this podcast on Creating New Habits: I found it helpful for me when I listened to it: Productivity Paradox Podcast.