Your System is Broken:
3 Steps to Fix It
The Pandemic Broke My System . . .
A LOT has changed in the last couple years. My day to day life looks completely different that it did two years ago: I'm home with the kids all day for homeschool, I sit way more, I exercise at home instead of the gym, my husbands schedule is totally different, I don't teach fitness classes anymore, I work at my computer way more, I eat more, my schedule is all over place, the list goes on and on. Any of that sound familiar? The daily systems and routines that used to work for me, that kept me consistent in my healthy habits, no longer work in my new daily life. That's not bad or good, it's just different, and currently . . . broken.
Think about your own life, undoubtedly things are different than they were 2 years ago. The routines and systems that were working for you then, might not work anymore. If you haven't changed your systems to fit your current situation and priorities it might be the biggest reason you're struggling with:
- not consistently exercising
- not consistently eating healthy
- not sticking the the "healthy habits" you've tried to create
- overstressed, overwhelmed
- not achieving your goals
In this episode I'm going to explain the importance of creating systems, how our brains prefer to function with systems and most importantly; 3 steps to create systems for yourself so that you can move forward again! Grab your pen and some paper, you're going to want to take notes and really put some work into this process!
Full transcription available at the bottom of this post
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Welcome back, my friends, I'm so glad you're here. If staying in shape and getting healthy, losing weight seems harder than it ever has been, there's a good chance it's because your system is broken, or you don't even have a system at all. Your broken system is likely making it harder to exercise regularly, eat healthy food and just generally engage in healthy behaviors. So today, we're going to talk about the importance of systems and how to create one for yourself. Let's go Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I’m on a mission to help you take back control of your mind, health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health. Find food freedom, and finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend, are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward.
So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes. Let's walk and talk.
First, we're gonna have a little bit of Storytime with Tara. I'm gonna tell you the story about how the pandemic broke my system. So pre pandemic, like two ish years ago about now, I had a very sort of routine, everyday was more or less the same. Here's how that looked. I would get up in the morning, my alarm would go off, I would get up in the morning, put my workout clothes on, get downstairs, get moving, get the kids up, feed them, get their lunches packed and get them on the bus. And now it's early morning, I'm dressed, I'm ready to go. My kids are gone. So I hop in the car, drive directly to the gym and get a workout in. Sometimes I was teaching a class. Sometimes I was taking a class, but every time I was working out, and now I have already worked out I'm already dressed and now I'm in town. So for me it's like 15 minutes to get anywhere that I consider in town. So it's like a thing for me. So I'm in town. So what do I do in town, I run all my errands, I buy all the groceries, I do all the things in town that I need to do. Come home shower, get dressed. Now I have a few hours free to myself every single day where I'm working on my business or I'm cleaning the house or I'm doing stuff around the house, I'm doing stuff for the kids, I'm prepping food, I have a lot of time to kind of get the things done on my own by myself that I want to get done. And then the kids come home. And we are kind of driving to sports or sometimes I was teaching an evening fitness class. We're making dinner. What the other thing that was happening pre pandemic is that my husband worked out of town for two to four days a week. So on those two to four days, I was not even really making dinner, I was sort of feeding the kids whatever. And then I was eating like vegetables and meat. Basically I was eating really lean and healthy food. And I wasn't really preparing an entire meal.
So fast forward. All of this really worked for me, right? I was exercising every day all the time. I was teaching exercise classes, I was getting lots of movement and I was eating healthy because I was more or less just cooking for myself. And I don't know about you. But for me, I'm not really particular about my food as long as it tastes okay, and it was fast and easy. Then I don't need to prepare a huge meal for myself. I don't really care. Fast forward to post-pandemic and literally every single thing about my day has changed. And what I realized is that I put on weight, I'm not moving as much, I'm not exercising as regularly, I'm not eating as healthfully. And the reason is because I'm home all the time. And my routine has totally up-ended, my system is completely broken and I haven't fully formed a new system for myself.
So let me tell you what my day looks like now. Now I get up sort of whenever I don't set an alarm. I homeschool the kids so I'm home with them all day for several hours, just them and us working on school. So I'm sitting a whole lot more I am not working out regularly in the mornings because I don't go to the gym anymore. I, you know, all my workouts are at home more or less, which is good and bad. It's good because I have the freedom to do it whenever but it's bad because I have the freedom to do it whenever. So I'm kind of all over the place, school gets finished, and I don't have very much time between school and now I got to figure out, okay, am I going to grocery shop am I going to make food do I have food to even make my my grocery schedule is totally messed up for when I'm actually doing the shopping, doing the thinking about meals doing the food prep, my window is now much smaller. And even though my kids are not doing a lot of sports anymore, we still have evening activities that we're doing. And the other thing that's changed is that my husband now works from home. So every night we are making a meal. So I am actually during the day eating more now than what I was before. Because before I would throw some random stuff in a pan or like make a salad or sometimes even just had a smoothie for dinner because I just didn't care, give me the nutrients. I don't really care, I don't need a meal. Now, we are making meals every night. And so I'm eating the meals and it's honestly more food than I was eating before. So you can see like, it's not anyone's fault. And it's not good or bad. It's just different. And my system that I had before no longer fits into the life that I have now. And I haven't fully created for myself a new system.
So think about your life in the last few years, has your system been broken? Did you have a routine that worked for you before and you were kind of living healthfully, and you were getting the results that you wanted? And then now not so much, right? Lots of things happened, your kids may or may not have gone back to school, maybe you like me started homeschooling full time. Maybe the gym that you went to is now hopefully open. But maybe you don't go there anymore. I know tons and tons of women who just stopped going. Maybe you are now working at home and you don't have so much of us that schedule or you're eating more often because you're at home, like lots of things have changed potentially for you. So I want you to just really think about your entire day, entire week, entire month as a system. Has that system changed? And have you figured out how to adjust it for the way things are now, did you used to have a system that worked, and now it's broken, and have you created a new system.
Let's talk a little bit about why systems are so important. The biggest reason that we need systems and plans is because of stress, we are all under a lot of stress. And according to surveys, more of us right now feel like we're under more stress than usual. So when we're under stress, stress turns on your amygdala. And that's the part of the brain that is the emotional center. It also turns off your prefrontal cortex, which is your higher level thinking your planning your decision making. So if you can imagine then, when we're under this constant stress, our emotional center is on and our decision center is off. And what happens is we're making a lot of emotionally driven decisions, we're having a lot of reflex reactions, instead of sticking to a plan, we're having a lot of, I don't feel like it moments, instead of conscious choices to do, the thing we know is going to get us to the place we want to go. This is problematic. As I'm sure you can tell, this is not going to work for us long term. And a lot of us have been in this state for two plus years at this point.
The other problem that we're facing is decision fatigue. So when we don't have a plan, and we don't have a system, our prefrontal cortex gets worn out. So when we're having to make decisions all day long, when you don't have a plan, you have to make decisions about what you're doing all day long. your prefrontal cortex, the part that's making those decisions gets tired. Think of it as like the weakest muscle in your entire body. It gets tired of making decisions. And every successive decision gets a little bit harder to make to the point where eventually you're just not going to make them. You're just going to start saying whatever, you're just gonna let the amygdala be like you don't feel like it. You don't want to make a decision about this anymore. When we don't have a plan. We have to make all the choices along the way. Now contrast that if you do have a plan, then you're just doing the plan. You don't have to make a choice about “am I going to the gym today?” the plan is “I go to the gym for a 9:30 class”. That's the plan. I do it. When you don't have a plan, when you don't have a system, you are up and you're like Oh, am I gonna do that? Jim today, what am I going to do today? How am I going to exercise today, and your brain by the end of the day gets tired of making all the choices, and it's just gonna say, eff it, I don't want to do anything, can we sit on the couch now, you're gonna start making decisions that are giving you a short term gain a short term benefit, instead of when you have a system, you can do the things that are giving you the long term benefit. Does that make sense? When you have that system, that routine, you're making less decisions, you're just doing it.
The third reason that we are having so much difficulty and why we need systems in our life is because a lot of us along the way have lost our anchor habits. These anchor habits are the things that we do every single day, no matter what these are the habits that we use, when we talk about habit stacking and creating new habits. We're using these anchor habits, the things that we always always do, to stack the new habits on top of right. But if we've lost our anchor habits, we've lost our ability to habit stack. So let's go back to my morning example, right, my anchor habits were my alarm went off at 6am Every single morning. And that anchor habit created a domino effect of other habits, I got dressed, I fed, the kids went to the gym. Once that anchor habit of setting, my alarm was gone. The rest of the habits that followed it, were also gone. Does that make sense? So that one thing, setting my alarm and getting up at six set this domino effect of habits, things that I did every single day, once that one anchor habit was gone, everything was gone. You could also say another anchor habit was actually going to the gym, because being in town dressed at the gym, also set off another chain reaction of habits. I went to the store, I taught a class I bought groceries, right? So you have to think about what are the anchor habits that we maybe have lost along the way. So now that you have sort of maybe an idea of if you had a system and maybe how that system might be broken. Let's talk about how to build a new system. The first step in building a new system for yourself is really coming to an understanding of what matters to you right now. What are your priorities and goals right now? So if you think about now versus two years ago, your priorities might be different, your goals might be different. And I'm not just talking about health and wellness related goals, I'm talking about literally anything, any kind of goal, any kind of priority, maybe your priority is family time, maybe your priority is reading a book a month, like whatever, it doesn't matter what it is, but you need to get really clear on the stuff that really matters to you right now. Because those are the things that you're going to want to build a system around, you have to also consider are you right now giving adequate time to those things that you hold as priorities. So if you say that your priority is family time, but you are having very minimal family time, then that's going to be definitely an area that we're going to want to think about building a system around. There's no right or wrong answers here. There's just recognizing for yourself so that we can make sure that we're building systems around the things that we want to accomplish. Make sense?
Okay, so step two, then is having a really clear understanding of what your old system was. So just like I told you, my old system at the beginning, my old system worked, right, it worked for me every single day, I was very consistent in that old system. So do the same for yourself, line out the system that you had that was working, and maybe things in it were not working. So I want you to really be clear for yourself, what was working about that system? And what was not working about that system? What would you like to keep? And what was not really working that you would like to change? What are the things that your system was helping you do to stay healthy? Right? How was that system contributing to your consistent healthy habits? For example, maybe in your old system, you were eating more vegetables? Okay, we're gonna get a little bit minute on this one. But I really want you to understand this, that we have to look at it from a large perspective, but also a small perspective. So maybe two years ago and your old system, you were eating more vegetables. How were you doing that? Did you have time blocked out to look at new recipes? Were you planning meals for the week on a certain day? Were you prepping veggies ahead of time? Did you have certain days that you were grocery shopping consistently so you always had veggies on hand? Was your kitchen organized so that vegetables were easier to see and to grab? In what order? Did all of these things happen? What days of the week did you do them on at what times? Like really start to think about okay, I was exercising more back then? How was I doing that? What were the systems around that that allowed that to happen really consistently and almost seamlessly? I was eating more vegetables back then how was I doing that? Does that make sense? I really want you to start asking your those questions of yourself. If I say my priority is I want to exercise more And I have previously exercised more, what was the system around that that made it possible? Okay, I want you to understand that write it down, get real clear on what your old systems were, that worked.
The next part is then coming to an understanding of what systems you need. Now, you are not the same as you were two years ago, five years ago, maybe even a month ago, you need to be able to adjust your system so that it works now, what can you keep from your old system that worked for you then and would still work for you now? What things do you need to let go have your priorities and your goals, like I said, may have changed, you need to evaluate your new systems, your new needs to address those things to address those new priorities? And you also need to be honest about is this really a priority? Or is this something I can let go, like, I was having a conversation with someone and they were saying, like, two years ago, they were trying to, you know, get real low body fat. And I want to just, you know, see six pack abs and like, this is my goal. And then at this point in their life, just two years later, they're like, it's not really my thing anymore. Like, I just want to be healthy and, and limber and I want to get out of bed with no pain, I don't need a six pack, her priority changed. And so I want you to recognize if your priorities have changed either way, but your system needs to change to fit your new priorities make sense?
Okay, the next step is going to be then in creating your new system, what are your new anchor habits going to be? So again, my anchor habits used to be the alarm going off, and then physically leaving my house, once I left my house, I went about town and did all the things, I don't do that anymore. I don't leave for school for the kids, I don't leave for a job, I don't leave to go to the gym, I don't leave. So how can I then change my anchor habits to trigger the things that I want to do. So I'm going to make my anchor habit, just I'll give you my personal examples, I have not been setting my alarm. And I'm going to start doing that. I need to start making that my anchor habit so that it triggers my workout every single day. The other thing that I have started doing is programming my workouts for the week. So again, clearly, for me a priority is Exercise and Movement. That's something that I have named as high on my list. So I want to make sure I have systems around it. I've started programming my workouts all week. So I know every single day, this is what I'm doing today, I'm going to be on the bike downstairs, I'm going to be in the garage gym, I'm gonna go to the sauna gym and work out there like whatever the thing is, I have programmed it into my week, I know exactly what to expect, because here's what I was doing. And maybe you can relate to this. In fact, probably you can relate to this. What I would do is I would get up and I'd be like I need to work out today. What do I feel like doing? Well, that's the kiss of death. Because what happens when you ask that question, what do I feel like doing? Well, I don't feel like doing anything. There is no workout right now that I feel like doing? And so then what would I do? Nothing. That's right. I didn't have a system, I would just ask myself, that emotional center of my brain? What do I feel like doing? If I can switch it and actually have a plan, then I'm not asking what I feel like doing, I just wake up and I say “this is what's happening today”. You see the difference? If I say that it's going to happen?
So what does your daily schedule then look like? What are your anchor habits? How could this look for you? Do you could you add in a consistent wake time? And yes, I'm including weekends, consistent mealtimes exercise time, meditation, meditation times, bedtimes.
How can you change your surroundings? So when we talk about this and habit formation, right? What can you do in your kitchen and your workout space and other places of your physical environment like your bedroom? Do you need to take your phone out of your bedroom so that instead of sitting in bed scrolling, you just get out of bed? How can you change your surroundings in order to make these things happen? In order to create your systems?
Do you need reminders? Do you need to set alarms? Do you need to do lists? Do you need to time block and your calendar? How can you set yourself reminders to trigger you like oh, this is what I'm doing? Right? So again, if you think about my old system, I had a lot of triggers. I had a lot of reminders. I had a you know a calendar that I was teaching class or taking class or working out at consistent times every week. I had an alarm that went off at the same time every day that things were more consistent.
How can you plan and pre plan so like I was just talking about my workouts? If I plan them for the week and I know exactly what I'm doing that day I'm far more likely to actually do it. So what about meal planning and grocery shopping planning and food prep planning and exercise planning and movement planning? How can you plan your day more effectively? In order to create these systems for yourself?
Do you need support or motivation or accountability? Can you do things with your family? Can you do any of your exercise? Or your meal prep or your cooking? Or whatever it is you're trying to do? Whatever your priorities are? Can you do them with your family? Do you need a group like the like the 30 Day movement challenge right now these women are so supportive of each other and holding each other accountable. It's amazing to watch how much more we get done when we're being held to a high standard by other people. So where can you find support?
And what kind of routines can you start creating? So how can you stack healthy habits on top of each other? On top of something that you already do? For example, we've talked about this before and just adding movement to your day, can you walk around while you're on a business call? Can you stand up at your desk, even if you work at home, can you make your lunch the night before, just like you did when you used to go to the office so that you're not standing around in front of the pantry in the fridge all day, you already have a meal prep ready to go for yourself so that you're not just munching all day, right?
It's these little things that you can just create into your day, the systems that you can plan for, so that you can be more consistent in the things that you have named as priorities, so that you are not relying on your prefrontal cortex all the time to make a decision after decision after decision and it gets tired and it gives up on you. But instead, you can just follow the system that you have created, you have to think less, your brain likes to think less, it likes to do things on autopilot, your brain prefers to be on autopilot. So if we can create systems in our life with that allow our brain to do that, but also are moving us forward in the direction we want to go win win winning winning when everybody wins. So once you create your system, you're going to put it into practice and see if it works, you might have to change it, it might not work, you might have to tweak some things. And if you do, that's totally fine. This is an experiment, you're figuring out what works for you. So make the changes you need to make and then test your system. Again, this is trial and error, you're going to create the system and you're going to try it. But the thing is you have to create the system, you cannot keep relying on your brain to just make these decisions all day every day.
And let me just kind of give you a heads up here. A diet is not a system. A goal is not a system, saying that I want to work out four days a week is not a system saying that I want to move for you know, two hours in a day. Total is not a system. Those are goals. What I want to eat in a day, I want to four servings of vegetables a day, that is not a system, that is a goal, what you have to do is create the system around the goal. The goal is that priority, right? We talked about what are the things that are important to you. What you need to do is create the system around that thing. That thing in and of itself is not a system, I want to be really clear about that. Because I don't want to be like I'm decided I want to do these things. And I want to do this and that and I'm trying to do it but it's not working. It's not working. It's because you didn't create a system that's working. So you need to go back to the drawing board, go through those steps that we lined out and create the system around it. Does that make sense? If you have questions about this, or you want to get some creative ideas about tweaks to your system to make it work better,
I'm all ears like ask me the stuff, get into the community group into the Facebook group super easy and just ask the questions.
I also want you to pay attention to the next couple of weeks. I'm going to bring to you one really important system that I have created for you. It's actually something that I teach in the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program. But I think that it's just going to be so powerful for most of you that I would really like to share it with you here. I think it will make a really huge difference. So that's in the next couple of weeks. And also in the next couple of weeks. The Healthy Mind Healthy Body program is opening back up. I'm so excited about opening up this coaching program because it's going to allow you to get coaching from me every single week, you get to personally ask me the questions. And I will coach you through the tough stuff. I will help you create these systems. I will help you stop dieting forever. And just get healthy, get to that healthy weight and just stay there. There's a lot of shifts that have to take place. There's a lot of mental shifts, where you have to understand how your mind works and how it's working right now and how it could work. And you have to understand how your body works. We're fed so much BS information that's just terrible information. That's actually been holding us back from what we could have from our true potential from our true health. So in the healthy mind, Healthy Mind Healthy Body program, that's exactly what we're doing. I'm teaching you how to be in control of your mind and use it to your benefit and how your brain actually works. And I'm also teaching you how your body actually works so that you understand what you're doing with it and why and what kind of decisions that you can make. If you want to make the most informed decisions about your own health. This is going to be a program for you. So go to tarafaulmann.com/join, check it out, get on the presale list so that you do not miss out there will be limited spots because I really want it to be kind of an intimate coaching experience for you. I really want you to really make major changes from this. So head over there. Get yourself on the waiting list. tarafaulmann.com/join. I cannot wait to do that program with you. Alright, my friends, until we talk again, be well.
Friends, thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave me a review. It would mean the world to me and help other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram. I'm @tarafaulmann. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.