Ask a health coach – why it’s so hard to get started


This week, Board-certified health and wellness coach Chloé Maleski is here to answer some of your questions about New Year’s resolutions, specifically why getting them started is a challenge. If you’re having trouble moving forward, you’re sure to want to check out Chloé’s recommendations in today’s post. We love receiving your questions, so leave them in the comments below or ours Mark’s Apple Daily Facebook Group.

James asked:
“I’m committed to eating healthier this year, but if I see pizza, chips or cookies in the pantry or fridge, I can’t resist. I’ve tried to have fresh vegetables, bison burgers and salmon on hand, but always give in to junk food first. Do you have any tips for staying on track? “

If you want to start eating differently, you have to set up your environment for success. Think of food in the pantry and refrigerator right now. Does having pizza, corn chips and cookies on hand bring you closer to the results or does it take you away? Of course, buying fresh produce and high-protein foods is a good place to start. But if you really want to get off on the right foot, you need to clean up your trash, especially if it’s a trigger for you. People tend to believe that their healthy habits are made up of motivation and willpower. In fact, it is your environment that is pulling the biggest lever.

According to habits expert James Clear, “If you want to maximize your chances of success, you need to operate in an environment that accelerates your results rather than hinders them.” That said, my first recommendation is to do a pantry purge.

Step 1: Purge the pantry

With a pantry purge, clean up foods you don’t want to tempt. This means throwing away or donating all processed foods, sugar and industrialized oils from your cupboards, fridge and freezer. When you eliminate tempting foods and replace them with others that support your goal, you have the best chance of success. So take advantage of this opportunity to design an environment that facilitates smart decision making.

To avoid arriving overwhelmed, do this task when you are not bothered and start with an area, such as the refrigerator. Start with the top shelf and go down, reading the labels and leaving out foods that don’t fit into your healthy eating plan. Keep in mind that a pantry purge when you’re hungry is a recipe for disaster, so first fill yourself with healthy protein and fat.

Step 2: Throw, give or put out of sight

You can donate your purged food to a food bank or throw it in the trash or compost and recycle the bins. Are you determined to keep certain foods? The best option is to place them outside of your line of sight. This is because foods that are placed at eye level tend to be consumed more often.

Have you ever wondered why grocery stores put sweets and other processed foods at the starting line? It is based on a concept known as decision fatigue. Psychologists have found that the more decisions you face, the more tired your willpower becomes. And the more you open the fridge and see the leftover pizza, the less likely you are to cook a packet of bison burgers.

Step 3: Replace it with healthier foods

You do not need to fill your cart with 100% organic grass-fed foods. Just buy foods that support your health goals and make you feel energized. And here’s the kicker, don’t buy that junk food again. Even for “just in case” reasons. If you don’t want to be tempted, don’t buy it in the first place. Point.

I’m not into meal plans and recipes, but Mark has a fantastic one Primal Blueprint shopping list you can check out. As you can imagine, it is full of meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds and fruit. And obviously no corn chips.

Lory asked:
“I didn’t start very well because I missed my first training session this year. How likely am I to continue with my new workout routine if I can’t even complete day 1? “

You’ve probably seen the statistics for New Year’s resolutions. It is estimated that 80% of people surrender in the second week of February, and most do not even last that long. In fact, Strava analyzed user data of more than 800 million registered activities and found that the average date on which people abandoned their fitness-related goals was January 17th.

How to test your workouts

It’s not just about training, it’s about creating the habit of exercising. Do you see the difference? It’s easy to get discouraged when you think, “All I had to do was exercise, and I didn’t even do it!” But you are creating a new routine in your life and in your daily agenda, and that requires mental and physical effort. And because the brain likes to keep things simple (and keep you on your own comfort zone), it takes less effort to do what you’ve always done than to try something new.

Whenever I’m training clients who are new to training, I focus on helping them take actionable steps to make exercise a non-negotiable part of their day. To you, this might look like:

  • Decide when to exercise (what days and times of day)
  • Find out what kind of training you will do (and where you will do it)
  • Time lock on your calendar
  • Set up exercise clothes and shoes (and equipment if needed)
  • Find one partner of responsibility to help you stay on track
  • Discovering your “why” (Why is exercise important for you?)
  • Be clear about the consequences of not completing training

Let me delve a little deeper into the latter. It’s easy enough to miss a workout. And honestly, it’s not a big deal in the general scheme of things. But what happens when one workout turns into two and then you decide you’re going to start again next week or next month, all of a sudden, it’s New Year’s Eve 2022 and you’re making the same resolution again?

The psychology of habit creation

Look at it another way. Suppose you usually brush your teeth and floss at night, and then one night you’re so exhausted that you decide to skip it. Are you frustrated with yourself and decide to stop brushing up for the rest of the week, month, or year?

No, brush them when you wake up in the morning.

And then you do it again that night. And if you forget or are too exhausted, do it when you can, or adjust your schedule to make it a priority. The American philosopher William James had the theory that habits are the result of repeating the same action over and over until they are automatic.

Taking care of your oral hygiene is an important part of your overall health (and it generally makes you feel good). The same goes for training. You don’t have to worry if you miss a day. Just pick up where you left off and then continue. Or in your case, just start.

Start small (these exercises also count)

Remember, exercise doesn’t have to look like an epic race, a 90-minute training class, or a two-hour bike ride. It could be as simple as:

  • Take the stairs instead of the escalators
  • Walking around the block
  • Do a triceps or squat gym while you wait for your Zoom meeting to begin
  • Grab a board while you wait for the next episode of Netflix to load
  • Parking in the farthest part of the store
  • Gardening, dancing or playing with your pet
  • Any form of microtraining (these are workouts you can do in 2 minutes or less)

Every form of movement counts. So start small, be consistent, and before you know it, exercise will be as automatic as brushing your teeth.

What has been your biggest obstacle to getting started?

Primal Kitchen 7 Days, 7 Salads Challenge

About the author

Chloe Maleski is a board-certified primary health coach and personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. She is also the first head coach of myPrimalCoach Online health coaching service designed to help you lose weight and take control of your health for life.

If you want to lose weight, gain strength and energy, sleep better, reduce stress, or manage chronic health conditions, myPrimalCoach can help. Take the MyPrimalCoach Health Questionnaire to take the first step towards lasting health and well-being.

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