Every Day is an Opportunity

healthy habits identity Oct 12, 2022

Although you may gain some traction and momentum from the start of a new year, new season or another Monday morning, there is actually nothing “inherently” special about starting (or continuing with) a healthy way of eating on any one of these days.

This is great news, because undoubtedly, many of us will be coming ‘back to the drawing board’ (so to speak) this January to re-attempt goals of losing weight and eating healthier. And those same people are inevitably going to slip up and have bad days. To combat this, I’d like to suggest that you focus more on your systems than your goals. And, then be consistent with those systems.

My favorite habits author, James Clear talks a lot about this distinction. Let’s say you’d like to lose 20lbs this year. Instead of focusing on the 20lbs, you’ll experience greater success if you focus instead on what systems and identities you will need to embody as a person who naturally weighs 20lbs less. For example:

A plate and table full of green vegetables - cucumbers, broccoli, avocado, peas

Are you adding those additional greens into your meals this year?

Are you somebody who is mindful of what they are eating, and how they are feeling as they eat?

Do you regularly include elements of a healthy diet such as an abundance of vegetables?

Are you somebody who makes time for regular exercise every week, and has a plan in place to do so?

Are you somebody who can pay attention to hunger and fullness signals in their own body and never eats past satisfied?

Do you make most of your meals at home?

Are you somebody who makes sleep and stress management a priority?

I think we could all agree that these systems are representative of someone on the healthier side and that consistently repeating these healthy behaviors over time would be helpful to weight loss. This is also really helpful at the beginning, when we may “feel” like nothing is happening just yet. We can simply look back at our systems and know if we are hitting our targets or not (i.e. for the last two weeks, yes, I have tracked every bit of food I have eaten).

A coffee mug that says begin on it

This is your sign to begin!

Of course what is also very important to success, is remaining consistent with those actions, because you will slip up and you will have off-path days of eating. It’s called life. And when you do, the absolute best thing that you can do is get back to healthy eating the very next meal (instead of waiting until the next opportunity to come around). If you think you’ve “already screwed up” and that there is something special about Monday, you may decide to continue to make bad decisions throughout the entire week. Spare yourself the time, and simply get back at it with your very next meal. Doing this is yet another “system”, “habit” or “behavior” of someone who has a healthy weight, and healthy relationship with food and their body.

As James Clear says: every action you take is like a vote for the type of person you believe you are. As you take these actions, you build up evidence of a particular identity. And pretty soon, your beliefs have something to “root themselves” in.

The truth is that EVERY day is an opportunity to make improvements, and to do better than the day before. Focus on your systems, and your goals will take care of themselves!

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