by Tony Gjokaj April 21, 2020 5 min read

Change your environment, change your habits. Believe it or not, your environment can make or break you when it comes to building better habits for yourself.

As discussed in much of our content, shaping or changing your environment could help you successfully develop the habits you want out of life.

Hacking your environment in a way that influences your habits will allow you to eat better and live healthier - and you don't even need to overthink it.

You are the average of the five people you spend your time with, so spend your time with me on this article today.

Environmental Hacks

Our environments can influence us significantly, despite what we say or do. Simply put: you're going to find it pretty difficult to work out in your bedroom compared to a gym. In addition: according to the book Mindless Eating, a bigger plate influences you to eat bigger.

Despite us knowing these things, we give in often to our surroundings.

We will break down some practical environmental hacks for the most common places we reside: For nutrition, our home, and the workplace. For exercise, our gym, or an outside park or field.

Home Environment Hacks (Nutrition)

Every time I had junk food in my home while I dieted for fat loss... I eventually ALWAYS gave in.

Home is what will make or break you when it comes to trying to go through a weight loss program or lifestyle change. Because it is our sanctuary, it is where everyone typically succumbs to their lack of willpower.

It was a rough day at work. We are exhausted. Our environment at home typically makes us unwind: we get comfortable and lazy.

Here are a few "environmental hacks" that will work in your home:

  • Eliminate junk food. Don't keep it home. Force yourself to go out and get it. If you REALLY needed it, you'll drive to the establishment.
  • Don't stick around in your kitchen. At my home, our living room is a huge room with our kitchen in it. Staying here in the evenings actually makes me give into junk food when my willpower is gone. 
  • Trouble with Sleep? Make your bedroom your trigger to sleep or unwind. Read a book instead of watching TV.
  • If you can't eliminate junk food, place it far away from eyesight. Late-night cravings? Hide them or make them difficult to grab without effort. We discuss this more below.
  • Portion control. Believe it or not, spoon and plate sizes can make a huge psychological impact on our habits. For example, if you fill up a smaller plate, you will psychologically be fuller than you would be if you fill-up the same portion on a larger plate.

Recall that when your willpower is gone, you are typically using more of your instinctive System 1 brain. This part of our brain is extremely lazy, and if your distractions are hard to reach or see... you will be too lazy to get them.

Evidence on the environment in regards to food supports this, and I can tell you that changing your environment in such small ways can make a big impact.

Workplace Environment Hacks (Nutrition)

Since we spend most of our time in the workplace on weekdays, this environment can be a big impact on developing our desired lifestyle.

Here are a few environmental workplace hacks you can utilize:

  • Bring your food/snacks from home. Sometimes, your workplace is filled with plenty of junk food or snacks. Bring a protein bar, your nutritious meals, and fruits.
  • Convenience matters: don't have junk food nearby. According to various studies, people who had chocolate in their vicinity typically consumed more calories.

I've worked at a job where it was "natural" to gain 15 pounds after working for the company for 3 months: there was food everywhere.

Resist your temptation by not having these foods in eyesight, and keep yourself accountable with other habit-building strategies we have highlighted in the article below.

Exercise Environment Hacks

When you head into your gym or your park after consecutive sessions from habit, your mind will most likely associate this environment as where we put in work.

Now how can we end up getting to the habit to jump-start our exercise? Here are a few "environmental hacks" that I typically recommend:

  • Leave your gym clothes in your car as a reminder that you need to get in there after work. Then drive straight there. No compromise.
  • To start, spend a small amount of time in your gym... even if you just stop by on a Friday. Spend five minutes on a treadmill. Repeat every day. Eventually your mind will associate this environment as a place to work - a place of transformation.
  • For the weekends, leave your gym clothes out. The weekends are the perfect opportunity to build a consistent habit with exercise. Don't miss the opportunity to work out in the mornings!

Exercise is sometimes one of the harder things to get into the habit of because there are so many things going on in our lives.

Your goal is to make exercise a habit by making going to the gym an easy task.

You don't know how guilty I used to feel if I had gym clothes in the car and I didn't go. The visual reminder kills us internally!

Hacking Environments List

Now that we have these introduced hacks into these three environments, we wanted to conclude this article with a summary for each section.

To really hone in on these environment hacks, we also added a few other habit-building tips to truly take these home.

For Nutrition:

  • Track your nutrition. A food log or a logging app like MyFitnessPal will hold you accountable for building healthier habits.
  • Keep junk food away from home and/or away from eyesight. Have your junk food hidden or away from eyesight. When the evening cravings come by, make it impossible to grab the junk food, or remove it completely.
  • Bring better snacks for yourself: protein shakes, bars, or fruits. Keep those with you for whenever you see someone else snacking. This is not for them to feel like crap for eating the food, but for you to personally make better choices for yourself.

For Exercise:

  • Have your gym clothes with you at all times - ready to go! This will trigger you to realize you have to work out.
  • Make your gym sessions consistent. If you have trouble working out in the evenings, make it a habit to work out in the morning before work.
  • Utilize weekends for exercise opportunities. If you typically can't train weekdays, utilize Friday, Saturday and Sunday the best you can. These are days where we don't typically have huge obligations.
  • Small incremental steps. If you can't make a huge commitment to working out, start small. 15-30 minutes for 3 days a week before 45-60 minutes.
  • Exercise outside your home if you don't have a home gym. Go for a walk, don't stay indoors if your home environment is for rest and relaxation.

Thanks for reading Reforged Legion!

If you have any questions or want to add more insight on habit building and environmental hacks that have personally worked for you, feel free to add them below or the email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com.

Now go out there and crush your goals!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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