Habits versus Goals

I’m a big fan of habit based versus goal based change. It’s one of the things I like best about Precision Nutrition’s lean eating program.

What’s the difference?

Rather than setting a goal, say completing a 10 km race in under an hour, you set out the steps and then commit to following the plan. Rather than picking a desired weight or per cent body fat, you concentrate on the habits that make for healthy eating. The idea is simple: Make small changes, live them consistently, and change will come. That’s the idea anyway.

What are the habits that the Lean Eating program focuses on?

The two key ones are ones Tracy has talked about in the context of overcoming overeating (Overcoming Overeating: Overview, Review, and Update) and intuitive eating (Intuitive Eating: What It Is and Why I Love It!).

  • Eating slowly and mindfully
  • Paying attention to hunger, eating to 80 percent full

The other is eating lots of veggies and a substantial amount of protein with each meal.

You can read more here: 5 Essential Nutrition Habits Via Precision Nutrition

I’ll let you know how it goes!

More reading on habits versus goals:
Make Habits Your Goal
Autopilot Achievement: How to Turn Your Goals Into Habits

18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick 

Stick to Your Goals This Year by Using Identity-Based Habits

I am also reading this book, The Power of Habit. I’ll report back…

14 thoughts on “Habits versus Goals

  1. I like the emphasis on habits too. My best accomplishments have always come from slow, steady, consistent effort (habits) instead of grand plans. I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes for you. Where does tracking fit into the picture? And I wonder if there needs to be some interplay between habits and goals. For me, I need both. Sometimes the goal keeps me on track with developing the habit.

    1. Sure, we also need goals but they’re not enough. I track habit completion and find that very useful. Right now I’m focusing on five servings of vegetables a day and protein with each meal.

      1. The other thing I took from the 4Hour Body that I didn’t comment on was his idea of photo-tracking. Instead of writing everything down, you just take a photo of each thing you eat (meals, snacks) and keep a timed and dated record of that. A bit less effort for someone who is averse to tracking (as I am). Not that you are, of course!

      2. I don’t do that but lots of people in the lean eating program post pictures of their meals to the group forum. Kind of fun.

  2. I like this idea. It makes a lot of sense and might be something that would really help me. Thanks!

  3. I couldn’t agree more with you, Sam. I’ve given alot of thought recently toward whether the way I’m eating now is a fad or whether it is sustainable for a lifetime, especially since Tracy implied in a recent exchange that perhaps my “method” is not a sustainable one at least for most people. From a nutrition and health standpoint, it is most certainly sustainable for a lifetime. Given the society in which we live though, with the type of food served at almost every kiosk in a food court, with desserts surrounding us absolutely everywhere and people who don’t eat them being the tiniest of minorities, is it sustainable from that perspective? My sister and nephew have eaten this way for many years now – and my sister is one who lost 100 pounds on Dr. Bernstein about 6 years ago now. While she’s heavier now than when she quit Dr. Bernstein, every pound she’s gained is pure muscle. But that puts her in the minority of people, I know – a minority to which I wish to belong. And I know of no other chance of belonging to that minority other than to make truly healthy (sustainable-for-a-lifetime-from-a-health-and-nuitrition-standpoint) eating a habit, and to make intense exercise a habit – in effect, to make them quite simply: “who I am”. “Intuitive eating” is not an option for me, personally. I suspect it may not be a viable option for some if not alot of people who have lost, are looking to lose, or for medical reasons have to lose (and keep off) a truly serious amount of weight and by this I do not mean people who have to lose 20 or 30 pounds, but rather 70 and upwards. I lost about 70 pounds. People like me anyway have to make healthy eating – not intuitive eating – our habit – who we are. If we don’t, we gain it all back. Intuitive eating won’t work for some of us, because oh-gosh-darn-it, our intuitions tell us to gorge ourselves, and our bodies are the type that can pack on the pounds instantly and much much easier than the average person. How do you think we got to be 70 plus pounds overweight in the first place? By having an extra big piece of pie once a day? Not likely.

Comments are closed.