The new year is just around the corner, and I know that many of y’all will be making resolutions to cook more and be healthier in 2013. I’ve been reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit with a lens on how can I help you really cook more, not just in the new year but throughout your entire life. I’ve come up with a 3 new habits to develop to make your resolutions a reality because we all know that habit changes are not easy.
We all know the typical new years resolution pattern: You’ll start off energized by the new year and transform your lifestyle 180 degrees for a few weeks or maybe even a few months, but the chaos of life inevitably throws us off our new routine. We tell ourselves, “I’ve already cheated a few times this week. I might as well just take this week off and start fresh again next week.” From there it’s a slippery slope, and soon the intention to start again next week becomes next month and next month becomes next year, and we find ourselves back in our old habit loops.
So, let’s get out of these bad habit loops! Here are my 3 tips drawn from reading Duhigg’s book to make it happen:
- Write it down: Make a list that’s divided into two columns. Column 1 is titled, “Meals I ate out.” Column 2 is titled, “Meals I cooked.” Write down all your meals – breakfast and snacks from your local Starbucks count – under one of these categories. The goal is not to have the first column empty on day one because that is just not realistic. The goal is to see column 2 become longer over the course of the year and for column 1 to shrink. By having to write your actions down, you’ll become conscious of your starting point and your progress. By keeping track of the small changes and improvements you’re making, you’ll be much more likely to stick to your plan than trying to make a complete transformation from day 1. Bonus points for keeping track of the total monthly costs of those two categories. Since we all like to see savings, you’ll also be more likely to stick to your plan if you see your piggy bank growing as a result of your changes
- Create a schedule for eating out: Don’t let eating out become a crutch or a back-up plan. Make it something you intend to do. Just like habit #1, it’s about being conscious of your actions (which unfortunately most of us are not when it comes to our eating habits). It doesn’t matter if you need to start out by planning to eat out 6 nights a week, but on that 7th night, you better find a way to not eat out – no excuses. Even if you have to work late or are too tired or have nothing in your fridge, you have to find a way even if it’s just heating up a healthy frozen meal. Plus, by planning to eat out, you can make it something special – choose a restaurant that you’ve been meaning to try or one that you really love or a type of food that’s not worth making at home (for me, that’s burritos) – versus a last minute mediocre back-up meal
- Take shortcuts: People make cooking way more complicated than it has to be. There are lots of shortcuts out there for the home cook to get a meal on the table in under 20 minutes. Take them every so often because it will still be better than eating out more often. Keep a few of these meals from Citizen Chef around and make a list of “cheat” meals that take shortcuts to cooking.Remember the next time you’re feeling exhausted and want to pick up the phone for take-out, make it a habit to get out that list of possible shortcut meals instead. Here are a 3 of my favorites to get you started on building out your list.
Once you establish an understanding of your actions and not hold yourself to unrealistic expectations, you’ll be much more likely to make changes that really last. Here’s to a new *you* in 2013! And if you are looking for some help getting started, give our “New Year, New You in the Kitchen” challenge a try.