Forming Habits

[caption id="attachment_6145" align="alignright" width="360"]habits_triathletes_diet_exerciase Source: Training For Warriors[/caption] Forming habits takes approximately 3 weeks.  By habits I am not saying good or bad, just habits.  You can create a bad habit in as much time as it takes to create a good habit and the same can be said for breaking that habit.  A bad habit does not have to be around forever.  You need to make up your mind that it is a bad habit and stop doing it, which is not easy, but realize that within less than a month that habit will be broken. I am bringing this up because I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, who is pregnant, and we were discussing eating habits.  I mentioned that it is important for her to maintain her healthy eating habits and exercise routine (as long as the Doctor says its ok) because it will be that much easier to get back into these habits as long as she maintains them.  Her friend is also pregnant and has sort of thrown this notion out the window.  She said to me that watching her weight was not important now that she is pregnant.  It made no sense to me.  I wasn't saying that she had to be America's Next Top Model but that she should want to stay healthy not only for herself but also for her baby. After this conversation, in which I walked away shaking my head because maybe I missed something I thought about the habits that I had that I have broken and the habits that I have started.
  • I no longer drink alcohol.  I found it very difficult to train with any success while being hungover and it was more important for me to have a great workout then to be drunk and hungover.  I will still go out with friends and hang out and have dinner but they have come to accept that I won't be drinking and it gives them a designated driver.
  • I no longer order cheese on my pizza.  This was a tough one but once I got started and thought about why I was not putting cheese on my pizza it got easier.
  • I now drink approximately a gallon of water a day.  This has helped me stay hydrated in these Texas summers but I am also much more in control of my diet because I don't have phases of starvation.  My hydration levels, according to the Tanita scale, have been between 60% and 64% since I started this habit.
  • I no longer drink coffee.  Egads!  This was tough to do.  I was a two cup a day drinker.  One in the morning that had caffeine and the 2nd just after lunch that was de-caff.  With all the water and drinking green herbal tea I no longer have that craving for coffee.  The last time I had coffee my stomach erupted violently and that pretty much sealed the deal on that.
Competitor.com recently ran an article with Healthy Habits of Fit Triathletes written by Pip Taylor that I found interesting and will share them with you here: They read hunger signals. To stay lean year-round, learn to eat when hungry and pass when full. This also means that you don’t feel pangs of guilt for chowing down on seconds because you know when you need it. Athletes who constantly restrain themselves suffer more guilt and are more likely to have blowouts. I have figured out that there are only two times when I am truly hungry.  1- My stomach growls and a slight headache comes with it. 2- When I start having ridiculous conversations that make absolutely no sense.  Time to eat. They sit down for meals. As a busy athlete juggling three sports, it’s easy to eat on the go all the time. Sit down to eat meals and switch off distractions to fully enjoy your food and be aware of exactly what (and how much) you’re putting in your body.  I have the benefit of working from home so I am almost always eating while sitting down.  I also enjoy cooking and I think this helps me to appreciate the food as I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor. They don’t overestimate calories burned. Many athletes overeat after a big workout because they think they can make up for a huge calorie expenditure. Try to only modestly increase intake to more accurately match training demands.  I consume the exact same shake after every workout that is 1.5 hours or less and the exact same shake after every workout that is 1.5 hours or more.  From there I eat a carb based meal within two hours and this has allowed me to maintain my weight within 1-2 pounds for the past 7 months. They are organized. Shop and stock your cupboards, fridge and emergency stash locations so you’ll have less impulse eating and reliance on fast food or sugary hits. Have a plan for meals and snacks throughout the day.  Fast food doesn't exist for me.  I don't necessarily plan my meals but I have a very good idea of what I am going to eat each and every day based on where I will be and what I have done in regards to training. They eat (healthy) fats. Fat is satiating and essential for optimal health, functioning and energy. This means you should eat fatty foods such as salmon, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil.  I don't eat fish and have restricted the amount of oil I use for cooking so my healthy fats are consumed in the form of nuts and avocados mostly.  I also take an Omega-3 supplement to offset the fact that I don't use oil or consume fish. They focus on themselves. What your body needs is not what your colleague, training partner or spouse needs. Don’t stack your plate next to theirs.  I do the majority of the cooking in the house so this is easy for me.  At one point though Karen could be seen trying to 'keep up' with my consumption habits and it played a part in her weight.  When she realized this and began eating for herself she quickly dropped the weight and has seen her performance improve. They sleep a lot. Calorie consumption increases when you are tired. Getting a full night’s sleep will keep you on track.  Sleeping is very important and I do not skip out.  Yes I get up before the roosters and get my workout in but when my body calls for sleep I will take a 30 minute nap.  I am also in bed by 9pm every night and allowing my body to rest and recover. They don’t skip meals to lose weight. Getting overly hungry will just raise cortisol (stress hormone) levels and make weight loss harder. Plus you are more likely to eventually break down and binge. Slow and steady is the rule for lasting weight loss.  Yeah, this is never going to happen.  If I am looking to lose weight I consume fewer calories but I don't skip meals.  Your body will hang out to whatever nutrients you provide it and convert it to fat when it doesn't know that another meal is on its way.  It is the bodies defense mechanism and can be avoided by not avoiding meals to lose weight. They get enough protein. Protein helps curb appetite and maintain muscle mass even when weight loss occurs.  We all knew that eventually the protein topic would come up.  Most Americans get too much protein so this isn't an issue, but I do focus on consuming beans, grains, legumes, tempeh, tofu to get all my required protein.  I also supplement my meals with protein shakes when I can feel the need for a snack and don't want to cook. This is not to say that if you follow these items here that you will be the next Chrissie Wellington but it certainly will put you on the right track to becoming a fitter endurance athlete.

What Habits Do You Have That Make You A Fit Endurance Athlete?

What Habits Have You Broken To Help Improve Your Performance?

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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