Routines help stabilize us. Without them, our days would fall to chaos, and we wouldn’t be able to manage our time and conduct our business as well.
It’s no wonder, then, that the same logic applies to your diet and fitness routines. As the old cliché goes, consistency is key.
In two studies, researchers actually found that people in a test group that was served the same meal every day ended up eating less calories each day than a group that had more variety. This phenomenon is called “habituation” – or to put it simply, getting used to repeating stimuli. The Daily Mail cleverly dubbed this potential diet trick as “boredom.” It doesn’t have to be, though.
Now, unlike the study, I’m not suggesting that you eat the same things every day at the same time. Rather, you should have models to follow.
For example, my breakfast usually consists of two eggs, greek yogurt and healthy cereal. My lunch consists of vegetables and either chicken or fish and a side such as rice. I’m most consistent with dinner. Every night I eat fruits including an apple, grapes and berries.
The key is to have balanced meals throughout the day to hit your personalized calorie goal. (Of course, calories aren’t the only measurement that matters, but it is the most widely applicable for most people.)
Think of it like blocking out time on your schedule – even if it’s in your head. When you set expectations for the day, it’s easier to follow through.
The trick to getting starting is to form a baseline. Slowly get into the habit of eating healthier foods every meal, and eventually, you’ll be able to play with the formula. A great start is incorporating recommended servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Being consistent with the times you eat is also a healthy habit to form. If you eat each meal at a similar time every day, your body will adjust and you’ll be less likely to snack.
Related: 3 Surprisingly Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Build Better Habits
The same applies for exercise. To form your baseline, try repeating a heart-raising activity, such as jogging or biking, for 10 to 20 minutes every day or every other day. Eventually, you’ll be habituated to it, and you’ll need to increase intensity, either by exercising longer or doing something more challenging. Treat it as a challenge, and it’ll become a fun habit with immense benefits.
“Improvement and change occur when you do things often,” writes Tony Horton, the trainer best known for the P90X fitness program. “Stopping and starting all the time will kill any momentum you need to succeed. You must find ways to stay in the game.”
Consistency can be best friends with productivity, as long as you continue to make small improvements. And not only will building a routine help you live a healthier life, it will also help build a healthier business.
According to a 2012 study published in Population Health Management, individuals whose diets consisted of whole grains, fruits and vegetables were 66 percent more likely to report being more productive than people who ate poorly. Employees with a regular fitness routine reported 50 percent higher levels of productivity compared to infrequent exercisers.
As with any health decisions, always speak to a doctor and/or nutritionist before making any big changes.