Use These Two Easy Hacks to Avoid Mindless Snacking, Skipped Workouts and Poor Sleep

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There are two very easy health and fitness hacks you can use in your kitchen to help you keep track of your activities each day. These very affordable and specific hacks will make a big difference in your health, wellness, fitness and weight loss (or gain) goals.

All it takes is a clipboard, pen and a scale to help yourself build some discipline to stop mindless snacking, skipping workouts and even set a nighttime ritual to get a good night's sleep. Give this system a try for a week and you will discover what you are lacking in your diet, water consumption and even your sleep time over the course of a week.

scale clipboard
(Stew Smith)

Some may call this first hack a food diary, but this version goes much deeper than that. The goal of this method is to help you create a conscious effort to keep the big three activities that drive health and wellness moving in the right direction.

Fitness, nutrition and sleep are required if you hope to achieve any level of balance and optimal performance in life. This is true whether you are a high-level athlete, serving in the tactical professions or an aging civilian who has already been there and done that.

While most people think the biggest struggle will be fitting an hour's worth of physical activity in the day, it's the other 23 hours of making sure your meals are healthy and that you get a good night's sleep that prove more difficult for most people.

Document Your Foods, Drinks, Workout Time and Sleep Time

Use a blank sheet of paper to write down these four things: foods, drinks, sleep time and your physical activities or workout time.

Simply write down the foods you consume each day, including meals, snacks, post-workout recovery meals and drinks. Keep your water intake separate just to make sure you are hydrating enough during the day. Check out my water intake recommendations. Bring the clipboard with you in your car if you commute to work so you can keep track of snacks and meals there, too.

Somewhere on the blank page, set an appointment with yourself to do two more very important things each day. Make time for physical activity and commit to an exact time to go to sleep.

Remember this rule: If something is not on the schedule, it does not exist.

Set alarms on your watch as well. When you start to create these habits, the beeps that go off before your workout time can be a helpful reminder and get you mentally ready to show up for that scheduled appointment with yourself.

The same rules apply to sleeping. Instead of having an alarm to wake up, set an alarm to start bedtime rituals so you can prepare your mind and body to get good sleep. Check out my sleep ritual ideas.

The second part of this hack is to keep a scale in the kitchen. You do not have to weigh yourself every day, but having a reminder just as you are about to open the refrigerator or snack drawer can help you realize you are neither hungry nor starving and don't actually need to eat at that moment.

Mindless eating is what ruins many of our best-made food plans each day. The act of writing down exactly what you eat and the reminder of the scale are often enough to engage self-discipline when you need it the most. Besides, you may just need to drink more water instead of snacking.

You may find that weighing yourself once a week will be the jolt you need to get serious or an opportunity to celebrate your progress. The beauty of having the clipboard in the kitchen comes from the effort required to write down what you are about to eat. That moment can be just enough time to think that you really do not want to write down that you are about to eat a bag of chips or two extra cookies.

These hacks require an extra step that engages conscious thought and helps you realize that you really do not need those extra calories if you are trying to lose weight.

As humans, we can get away with less-than-optimal physical activity, sleep and nutrition for decades. However, the long-term negative effects of this behavior will manifest themselves in chronic stress, stress-related injuries and illnesses.

Longevity and quality of life in the last decade or more of your life can very well be determined while you are still young if you become more diligent in taking care of the most important qualities of longevity: nutrition, fitness and sleep.

Create Your Own Roadmap to Success

One of the benefits that comes from writing down these specific activities each day is that you have a sort of an "energy diary" that can help explain why you have low energy, feel tired or have poor athletic performance during physical training events.

On the flip side, your log may reveal the ideal series of activities for you to perform at your personal best in the gym or on a PT test. Replicating the 24 hours before a successful workout may be the answer to you taking your health and physical performance to higher levels.

To be at your absolute best, make sure you have solid nutrition and hydration, a good night's sleep and regular physical activity. You must also keep those activities in sync, as any misalignment can derail the highest performers at work, school or in the gym.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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