What’s the best way to create healthy habits? Make minor shifts in the things you use daily.

We’ve all been there: you stretch your favorite shirt over your head and all of a sudden you discover it doesn’t fit like you remember it. So you step on the scale and discover you’ve packed a few on.

While it might be tempting to sound the alarm bells and run to your nearest gym for a guilt-fueled 3-hour marathon weight lifting session, it’s probably best to focus on small, incremental, sustainable changes first. Since most habits are enacted while your brain is essentially on autopilot (https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23130930-700-break-bad-habits-by-hacking-the-autopilot-in-your-brain/) a purposeful shift in brands, ingredients, or adjustments in timing can make all the difference.

Let’s take two things you probably do daily: brush your teeth and put on deodorant.

What kind of deodorant are you using? What kind of toothpaste are you using? Did you look at the ingredients list, carefully selecting out the things you wanted and didn’t want (aluminum is a common ingredient in deodorant that people with sensitive skin can react to, for instance) – or did you just pick the thing that smelled nicest, tasted roughly like mint, and matched the brand you grew up with?

What kind of coffee or tea are you drinking? Where does it come from? How long does it take to prepare it? What part of your routine is it integrated into? (Studies have shown that caffeine can affect a number of systems in your body depending on your health – http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/expert-answers/blood-sugar/faq-20057941).

What kind of milk are you drinking? What kind of sugar and flour are you putting into your baked goods? What kind of chair do you sit in? What kind of shoes do you wear – and do you wear anything in them? Do you wait to exercise at the end of the day when you’re lower on energy? Or do you bust it out first thing in the morning when you might have to cut it short due to other commitments?

The point is – with so many questions and trade-offs answered daily on autopilot, why on earth should you feel guilty about a few pounds here or there, when instead you could become a scientist in your own life and start substituting potentially unhealthy decisions for healthier ones?

What would happen if you substituted one ingredient out each week for something potentially better for you? Isn’t that a better way to get to the best version of you?

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