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Screw Self Control: The 2-Step Process To Becoming Better At Everything

Self control and willpower are overrated. To get things done, you must focus your energy on removing temptation and setting action triggers. This post shows you how.

Photo by Whitneyinchicago“Come play with us, Nate…”

I have a confession: I suck at self-control.

I’m reminded of this every time I visit my girlfriend’s parent’s house. You see, they always have a plate of cookies or candy or something delicious sitting on the kitchen counter. The last time we went to visit, it was a beautiful plate full of gooey homemade cinnamon rolls.

I told myself I was just gonna have one.

An hour later I had eaten FOUR.

It may sound ridiculous, but the guilt I felt at not being able to control myself outweighed my gut’s unhappy reaction to so much sugar, salt, and fat.

And it made me think about why I don’t have cinnamon rolls sitting on my counter: They’re just way too tempting.

When they’re right in front of me, I have to use all my willpower and self control to not eat them. (And most of the time, the cinnamon rolls win.)

We all have moments of self-control blips like this, of course. Moments of “weakness” where we tell ourselves we’re gonna do X…and we end up doing Y anyway.

A lot of this has to do with temptation and self-sabotage:

  • We say we’re not gonna eat “junk food”…but then we tempt ourselves by keeping chips, frozen pizzas, and Oreos in the house.
  • We say we’re gonna make it to the gym 3 days per week…but we forget our workout clothes or pick a gym that’s a pain in the ass to get to.
  • We say we’re gonna check email or Facebook only twice per day…but we tempt ourselves by keeping an alert that pops up on our phone every time we get a new message.

That’s why here at S2B, we always encourage guys who want to get better — at eating healthy food, working out, being productive, and more — to do two things:

1. Remove temptation.
2. Create “action triggers” that set you up for success.

Here’s how to do it for yourself.

Step 1: Remove Temptation

Think of self-control and willpower — the ability to restrain your own impulses — as muscles. What happens when you work your muscles hard? They get tired and less effective.

So just like your biceps will eventually give out after too many dumbbell curls, your “willpower muscle” will give out after making too many decisions.

In other words, it’s a lot easier to avoid eating junk food in the morning when your willpower is fresh and functioning. But it gets a little harder to resist temptation at 8PM when you get home from work and see a bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips in your cupboard.

But by strategically removing temptation, you’ll keep your willpower muscles fresh.

How do you remove temptation? A couple of ideas:

  • If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t buy junk food or keep it in the house. (You can’t eat it if it’s not there.)
  • If your constant “connectedness” is bothering you, consider canceling your Facebook or email alerts that let you know when you have a new message. Or just delete email or Facebook off your phone altogether. (You can’t check it if it’s not there.)

When you don’t have to choose whether or not to do something, you keep your willpower muscle fresh and can more easily avoid the “bad” behavior.

But it doesn’t stop with simply removing temptation. To make huge progress with your health, productivity, or whatever else you want to get better at, you need to do one more thing.

Step 2: Create “Action Triggers”

In their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, authors Chip and Dan Heath talk about creating “action triggers” to help people follow through with their new habits.

For example, you might say, “Tomorrow I’m gonna go straight from work to the gym and work out before I go home.”

You’ve just tied a specific behavior (working out) to a specific situational trigger (leaving work).

According to the Heath brothers and NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer, action triggers are effective because “they eliminate the need for conscious deliberation.”

In other words, when we set action triggers — like laying our workout clothes on the bed in the morning or setting a stopwatch to count down the amount of time we’re spending on social media sites — we’re “pre-deciding” what we’re going to do: get our ass to the gym and not stalk random high-school friends for more than 5 minutes.

Seriously, Give Yourself a Break

We guys are notoriously hard on ourselves. When we do something we think is bad or stupid, we become self-loathing. We question our own manhood and ability to follow-through.

“Ugh, I shouldn’t have…”

“I really fkd that one up.”

I don’t want to get all preachy, but that kind of negative self talk is hurting more than it’s helping. It’s a real confidence wrecker that’s also unnecessary.

Here’s the truth: no one has 100% willpower and self-control all the time. There is no perfect superman-type who has everything figured out. You, me, him…we’re all making it up as we go.

The important thing to remember is that we’re not in competition with other guys on this stuff. We’re only in competition with ourselves.

And It’s up to us to hold ourselves to a high standard…but also cut ourselves some slack when we inevitably “screw up.”

So if you’re trying to start a new habit or make a significant change in your life, know that me and the guys at S2B are in the same boat as you.

Sometimes we skip the gym when we know we should go.

We eat junk food without thinking.

We check our phones when we should be enjoying our conversation with friends.

We waste entire days watching random YouTube videos when we should be working.

But we’re also working on getting better. Not by blindly trying to build more self-control, but by removing the need altogether.

The bottom line: If you learn to give your self-control and willpower a break — if you learn to remove temptation and set action triggers — you’ll find that you’ll stick to your guns more often, get better at everything you try, and be healthier and happier because of it.

Trust me.

What Temptation Will You Remove? What Action Trigger Will You Set?

To get the conversation started, here’s one of my recent ones:

Removing temptation: To avoid doing the “iPhone pray” and checking texts at the dinner table when I’m out with friends, I’m gonna leave my phone in my car when I go out to eat.

Action trigger: When I pull up to the restaurant, I’ll send a text to everyone I’m meeting to let them know I’ve arrived and that I’ll be leaving my phone in the car.

About the Author: Nate Green is the Program Director for Scrawny To Brawny. You can find him on Facebook or Google+.

  • Brandon

    Good stuff, Nate! I have recognized that self-loathing/shame in my life before when I’ve screwed up and have determined not to have those thought patterns and feelings anymore because they are so destructive. When I screw up, I just determine to do better the next time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/keltacovalentine Kelley Paul Valentine

    I plan on eliminating the temptation of eating sweets throughout the day with both an action trigger and with preventive measures. I will remove the sweet things out of my house, first of all. Secondly, I will promise myself a small sugary treat post workout (this will count for my post workout high glycemic carbs) if I promise to not eat sweets any other time of the day.

  • Dark Cnauck

    My kryptonite…..chocolate covered acai berries. So tempting to have just a couple….Must…..stop…buying them.

  • Nicolas Pineault

    Thanks for sharing Nate, great article.

    My action trigger will be a timer I’ll use to minimize my email time in the morning and set myself up for a more productive day.

    Nick

  • William Bivens

    If you buy a food or beverage that you can’t consume on your diet, for someone else like elderly parents you’re taking care of, leave it in the car trunk until you can deliver it to them.

  • Chas Butler

    I heard a good comment on this yesterday actually. My friend said that when he eats a bacon cheeseburger with fries and a soda he feels so guilty and disgusting like he just watched porn. lol. For me my weakness is all the delicious breakfast foods out there, especially donuts. My favorite donut shop is right near my house, and I always used to drive by it. I now take the back road to my house so I dont have to look at that dang donut shop anymore and get that craving every time I drive by.

  • Joseph Chestnut

    Great actionable insight. As always, good intentions are easy, the success lies in finding those key, usually simple actionable items that make real change for the better actually HAPPEN. Thanks for a concrete concept to apply!

  • John Filippini

    Very good article. I don’t often post comments on blogs, but I’m happy to put my action plans down for this one. Not just food and exercise, but more generally self-care related.

    1 – As soon as I post this, I’m going to get in line to do my homework for my business course. (I’ve always wanted to be a business owner and I’m finally getting guidance toward it).

    2 – I’m going to make putting a load of laundry in the first task I do when I get home. (That’s an ongoing mess and mental stressor for me.)

    3 – I’m going to pack my bag & clothes for the next day before I go to bed so I can hit the ground running the next day. Going to make it a part of my Lean Eating bedtime routine too. (Complete with workout clothes).

    Thanks Nate.

    -John

  • Ben Marshall

    Hey whats up Nate, my names Ben and I’ve just recently signed up to your
    news letter. This self control article is by far the most valuable
    information you sent out so far. The temptation I’m removing from my
    life is the use of television/computer/phone two hours before I sleep. The action trigger I’m setting is
    taking my workout clothes to work/school so I won’t have an excuse not
    to go to the gym.

    Keep up the good work man.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Good work, Ben. And thanks for joining the newsletter!

  • http://chadsedlakfitness.com/ Chad

    Great post Nate! That is the best comment I’ve seen to date regarding NOT beating yourself up after the slip. I will use that and pass it along! As for one action trigger that is getting set in place? Working out as soon I as I enter the door after work. Grab my gear, a bottle of water and walk to the basement to do the work that needs to get done.

  • Sealer

    To stop watching Facebook all the time, I’ve created a pretty hard to remember password and disabled the auto save in my browser. Every time I try to log in, i have to find the password and copy that from my paper. It is so long and annoying, that i just give up on that, because when it is not important it is just waste of time. :)
    For the action trigger I had a circle for every action for the upcoming day with a route connecting each of them drawn on the paper. Each circle has his own start and end time. It starts in the morning and you are crossing each circle and start the work at the time the circle defines it and end as a like. It takes a few minutes to plan that in the evening, but after a week you start realizing that the times you specify for each activity don’t allow you to procrastinate or give up on that.
    I hope, that someone try this and it will be helpful.

  • http://www.gizmosforgeeks.com/ KJH

    One thing that I’ve realized (sometimes the hard way) is that everyone is different. What works for one person or even a million just flat out may not work for you.

    By all means, try new techniques or strategies, but document how well it works (or not) *for you* so you know whether to continue or look somewhere else.

  • Clayton Snyder

    If I’m working out the next morning, I will prepare my bag and set out my clothes the night before. Having to pick clothes and prep in the morning leads to inevitable dilly-dallying. Eliminate the dilly-dally – have a plan!

  • Thiago Silveira

    Great post! Definitely removing temptation is the better way to change habbits. For workouts, something that really helped me is to go to a gym that I have sort of an appointment with (say, 3 times a week at specific hours)…so I have a set trainning schedule. Somehow the lack of flexibility helps me to not miss any training sessions..

  • Daniel

    Nate. great stuff. Temptation to remove? Checking Facebook during the work day. How? I’ll rid my phone of notifications, like you mentioned. Action trigger? I’ll check Facebook once a day, after dinner, on the computer.

  • Colin B.

    Thanks for sharing, Nate. I have actually been thinking about this a lot lately, because I feel like I get so distracted from the healthy things I should be doing. I’m going to have an action trigger of charging my phone each night in a different room of the house before I go to bed so I can stop being distracted from getting good sleep and not have to wake up to stressful middle-of-the-night emails from my boss right at the beginning of the day.

  • Chris

    Excellent. I normally have difficulty focusing on the tasks for the day when I get into the office. I am therefore going to get myself a cup of cup of coffee when I get in and make that my action trigger to start working.

    Chris

  • Todd Marshall

    Thanks Nate, I just walked into the kitchen and dumped that bottle of Ketel One Citron that sits in the freezer. You see, each night when I get off work appx. 10:30 pm I make myself a drink to relax which is usually followed by another or 2 until I fall asleep. The morning after I usually have a slight headaches which makes it easy to call off the gym until I feel better which isnt until I need to get ready for work again….see the viscous cycle? Next I’ll put my gym clothes on the chair next to my bed and set my alarm for 8am!

    DONE!

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Nice work, Todd. Now here’s your next challenge: Do that consistently for 2 weeks and give yourself a check mark every day you complete it.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Hey Todd –

      Congrats, you won the book! There seemed to be a problem with your email address, however. Can you please send a note to nate@scrawnytobrawny.com so I can get it to you? Thanks!

      • Todd Marshall

        Yay! I finally won something….I’ll put the book to good use Thanks!

  • Tiger Joe Sallmen

    Nate wrote:

    >>>> So if you’re trying to start a new habit or make a significant change in your life, know that me and the guys at S2B are in the same boat as you.

    I was hoping you’d say

    … Know that the guys at S2B and I have got your back

    but, I suppose for that, I need to sign up for S2B. I missed that bus on May 8th by the way. I was waffling whether to get on or not, and I decided I needed more time to think about it. The bus left without me.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Well, we’d love to have you next round.

  • Bret

    I love this message and has me taking action on only checking me emails 2 times a day and disabling all my alerts on my phone. Done and Done now I get to see how I live better, great message and I thank you!

  • AbhishekHarge

    Removing Temptation: To avoid using excess youtube.
    Action: I’m gonna uninstall youtube off my phone, as I won’t really have time to browse random youtube videos when on desktop unless absolutely necessary (like watching a CS6 Illustrator tutorial or sort that helps me with work or classes), that totally resolves the issue.

  • Richard

    I’ve been pretty successful with three items to help each wek.

    1. Two gym bags – I always have one in the car with shoes, and a change of clothes. No excuse of I forgot, towels, shoes, clean laundry, actually don’t allow yourself the excuse.

    2. Elimiate the tempting foods and more than the obvious. Yes, chips, cookies, are easy, but look at your pantry. Think about what is there, don’t keep (pick several, cheese, alcohol, breads, just to start) items that really aren’t part of solif daily nutrition.

    3. Cook/prep food for yourself. Sunday/Wed night take time fo plan helathy food for work and home. Running out at lunch for the best italian grinder on the east coast, they add up quickly. Think of it as healthy indulgence.

    Then when a cheat meal comes, if you follow 80/20 or 90/10, enjoy every last bit, black pepper chips included

  • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

    Hey there –

    I know what it’s like to 1) need to get work done while 2) working on the Internet.

    What works for me is splitting up my time and focusing on each instead of bouncing back and forth between tasks. In other words, here’s how I may set up a series of “work blocks”.

    1. Outline article (or project, etc) and brainstorm for 30 minutes. I time myself by using the MenuBar countdown.

    http://capablehands.net/menubarcountdown

    2. Work for 2 hours, uninterrupted. Again, I’ll time myself. No Internet, no phone, no distractions. Inevitably, something will come up during my writing where I’ll want to do some research and look something up. Instead of succumbing to the desire to stop my work and get on the internet right then, I’ll make a note of it and get back to writing.

    3. 30 minutes – 1 hour of research, Internet. I find only the stuff I need and don’t get pulled into any “rabbit holes” by browsing or following random links.

    And I pretty much follow some variation of that flow until I finish my work.

    Hope that helps!

    -Nate

  • Román Azuara

    Very interesting and great article, I’ll start to create those triggers, and also give myself a break, becuase I’m very, very VERY hard with myself.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Most of us are, man.

      It’s good to hold ourselves to a high standard…but too much “nitpicking” can have a very negative effect on our confidence and sense of self-worth.

  • Jamie

    Awesome article Nate, thanks for this. I’m on the new intake of S2B and this will really help me moving I reckon.

    Sooo…my temptation removal, it’s hard as I’m not entirely in control of the food contents in my house as I live with a mate and he’s not on board with this. However, I can remove the junk food from the easily accessible places. I can place it in the cupboards, behind the things I should be eating. That will help massively I reckon.

    An action trigger. Seeing as I workout at home. I can have my workout gear ready to put on straight away and the equipment I need for the next workout set up and ready to go.

    Thanks Nate and the whole S2B team!

  • Rowan

    Awesome informative post as ever Nate. Hmmm… I can relate to a couple of the ones listed below – Similar to Majd, the thing that’s really dragging me down is academic. I have a course I’m doing at work and I have a real mental block around it, and am doing a great impression of an ostrich and putting my head in the sand (and distracting myself by going online, watching movies etc). Inevitably – the work is piling up = more stress… Not a very Brawny way of behaving, right?

    So here it is:

    Removing Temptation: I’m going to schedule a study plan, and instead of going home after work, I’m staying on to study in the library for an hour (Limited online access and phone will be switched off). Plus I’m in an environment already linked to work.

    Action Trigger: When I finish work, I’m going to go to the library and study (behaviour) for 1 hour each Mon,Tue,Thur and Fri (Wed is a day off). On days when I have an allocated study day – I will also go to the library (really like your work plan Nate – so gonna try that).

    Let’s do this!

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Sounds like a great plan, Rowan.

      One thing that may help: shrink the change.

      In other words, make your new habit so ridiculously easy that you’ll have no problem getting it done. The one thing that trips most guys up when they’re excited to make a change is that they aim too high. (“I’m gonna go to the gym 6 days per week!”)

      Then when something happens to throw them off their routine — or if they miss just one day — they’ll throw in the towel, stop practicing their new habit, and feel like a failure.

      So maybe instead of this:

      “Study at the library for 1 hour every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.”

      You could instead start with this:

      “Go to the library every 3 days per week and study for 15 minutes.”

      Chances are if you get to the library and start studying, you’ll probably go past the 15 minutes. And if you don’t? No big deal. You still met your goal.

      It’s all about CONSISTENCY.

      Try it and let me know how it goes.

      -Nate

      • Rowan

        Cheers Nate. That sounds really do-able. Its funny – this morning i felt a bit overwhelmed by what I’d set myself. Your idea is much less likely to fail and I’m going to still feel like I’m achieving. Cheers buddy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1463760040 Nick Adamson

    Ok, so I don’t have a smartphone, I don’t have a problem with excessive facebook or texting. I don’t smoke, I don’t keep junk food in the house, and I’m pretty good with keeping the house clean. But, I still waste time, doing google searches, reading articles I don’t need to read, and doing internet “window shopping”. So, to remove that temptation, I’m going to allot a set amount of time before I go to my computer when I want to research something. For example, if I want to check out a new guitar amp (I’m a musician), I’ll give myself 15 minutes, and then turn the computer off.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Good call. I recommend using the Menubar Countdown timer. That’s what I have installed on my desktop and I love it. (It’s free.)

      http://capablehands.net/menubarcountdown

  • Gabriel Pieren Salazar

    Nate!

    Awesome article Nate! I really want that book! It must contain great ideas for changing our lifes for the better.

    Removing temptation:
    -Removing mail and Facebook alarms on the iPhone;
    -I do not watch any video on youtube unless I planned to.

    Action Trigger:
    -I will check my mail and FB first thing in the morning, and also only when I am waiting for something and would just waste my time otherwise.
    -I LISTEN to the youtube videos I want while driving. (most videos I see are just people talking to you). I make a list of those videos I want to listen to later

  • Adam

    I never buy cookies! When my girlfriend buys cookies, I eat them all and she yells at me for eating them. Then she says, “I get them because you like em.” Removing temptation works and action triggers make total sense.

    Thanks for posting Nate!

  • http://twitter.com/23andsomething James Sims

    My philosophy; avoiding the temptation is also a form of self-control, that’s what I learned so far on this “becoming a better person” process. And yes!!!! I am going to win that book!

  • Nick Fletcher

    I have to cook healthy meals with enough to have several meals leftover, but not so many leftovers that I get tired of what I’m eating. If I mess up either direction, I’ll end up at a restaurant eating crap.

  • Christian Bradley

    I really like this post, Nate! My biggest problem when it comes to working out is I have 1,000 reasons to work out, but can easily come up with 2,000 reasons not too. I tell myself I’m going to wake up earlier so i can work up before work, however I wake up and think it’s a better idea to stay warm in bed for another 20, 30, 40 minutes.. So, I then tell myself I’m going to work out immediately when I get home from work. Then, I get home. I can play with the dog, watch tv, catch up on some household chores, surf the web, and of course my favorite vice: watch parkour videos on youtube. I think for me, the best idea would be to simply cut out the whole going home bit, and head straight to the gym. It’s one change that will eliminate both the temptations, and it creates an action trigger. To take it a step further, I’m going to pick a gym that I have to drive by or near to get home. That way I can’t be tempted to say the gym is too far.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Exactly! I think your idea of of going to the gym directly after work is a brilliant one.

      I’d even go one step further: Tonight grab a bag, stuff it with some workout clothes, shoes, and a shaker bottle, and put it next to the front door so you see it on your way out tomorrow. Oh, and figure out what gym you’re going to tonight, too. That way you can just so straight there after work tomorrow and won’t have to decide where to go.

      Instant action triggers.

  • Romeo short-shanks

    Wow, nate. I really appreciate this article.
    Apparently I’m not the only guy that does this, which is relieving!
    I’ve noticed telling myself, instead of just setting the alarm clock, that I have to get up at 4am, it’s much easier to not just push snooze in the morning.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Hey Romeo –

      Glad you liked the article, man. As I said to Rowan above, one thing you may want to consider is “shrinking the change.”

      In other words, make your new habit so ridiculously easy that you’ll have no problem getting it done. The one thing that trips most guys up when they’re excited to make a change is that they aim too high. (“I’m gonna go to the gym 6 days per week!”)

      Then when something happens to throw them off their routine — or if they miss just one day — they’ll throw in the towel, stop practicing their new habit, and feel like a failure.

      So maybe instead of this:

      “Get one big college assignment done in the morning.”

      You could instead start with this:

      “Every night before bed, write down one thing I want to accomplish tomorrow morning. After I wake up and shower, I’ll spend the first 15 minutes of my day working on that project.”

      Chances are if you get in the zone, you’ll probably go past the 15 minutes and make a big dent in the project. And if you don’t? No big deal. You still met your goal.

      It’s all about CONSISTENCY.

      Try it and let me know how it goes.

      -Nate

  • Benjamin Heskett

    Awesome stuff Nate, I’m going to have to try these ideas out. Especially next semester up at college so I can become more productive!!

  • Adam Porter

    I just started that this week. I’d failed the “just one beer, tonight” promise a few too many times. This week, I simply haven’t bought any beer at all. Problem solved!

    OK, OK…it’s still tough to go without a brew after a long, difficult day of work, but like you said: if it’s not there, you can’t have it!

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Hey Adam –

      Where do you live? You may be able to just buy a single beer at a time if you go to a “specialty” grocery store or beer store. That’s normally what I do.

      -Nate

      • Adam Porter

        Indiana, here. Yep, I can buy individuals, even at my usual grocery store. I’ll give that a go. Thanks!

  • John Flagel

    Killer post Nate! Ive got a feeling ill be implementing action triggers quite a bit, since I’m easily distracted by shiny things like my phone constantly. As I write this, I should be focused. When I’m done with this post, the phone goes in my pocket until I’m done working.

    That was pretty easy. Thanks for the insight man.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Thanks for commenting, John.

      I’d even consider turning the phone off when you’re working. That way you’ll have to go through the pain in the ass process of turning it on every time you want to check something. :)

      • John Flagel

        I thought about that, but my phone is also my MP3 player, and I keep it going all day for motivation. I have started turning it face down though. And the action trigger worked like a charm. Haven’t even thought about my phone in three hours, and normally it doesn’t leave my hand. Thanks for the Jedi mind tricks Nate!

  • chris

    One action trigger I set was to have a protien shake every morning and after practice in the afternoon.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Perfect. That’s very smart, Chris.

  • Ryan

    I plan on eliminating the temptaion of eating junk food by not buying it. In the past I have had success when I make a list long before I go to the store and stick to it. Also, never go shopping on an empty stomach you will buy things you shouldn’t.

  • Zack Becker

    Terrific post. So I’ve been working on eliminating temptations – I only buy a “treat” when I specifically want one, otherwise it’s not in the house. My action trigger is going to be that I’m going to step away from the computer after 30 minutes.

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Congrats Zack! You won the book! Check your email, sir.

  • Michelle

    I know scrawny to brawny was meant for guys, but I thought what the heck. I am a female high school weight training coach at an all boys high school in California and thought this information would be great to pass on to the kids. In the past I was told about not having temptations in the house, and that if its there, it will be eaten. So far I have loaded my fridge up with bite size veggies, v8 juices, a blender/shaker bottle, eggs and lots of lean meats. No more pasta, breads, crackers, etc. when making chips and guacamole I bake spinach tortillas for chips, Instead of a pasta dinner i have chicken salad with a side of spinach pasta w/marinara sauce. So I’ve come a long way and now I’m able to help 1600 boys do the same!!! I tell them if they are going to cheat, that they have to earn it. I also recommend them to bring their own lunch instead of eating in the cafeteria as well as bring a water bottle and everytime they look at it to take a drink. I will now start to work on some action triggers…like for me I have trouble doing pull ups, so I told myself that everytime I walk under the pull up bar I have to attemp at least 1…I’m now up to 5 (with a few extra kicks). I have helped a few kids lose quite a bit of weight just by telling them the advice I learned from precision nutrition and S2B…so thank you!!!!

    Michelle

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Michelle! Thanks for posting here. And a big THANK YOU for helping all your students live healthier lives. Very inspring stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/NeverQuitIt Christopher Franco

    I enjoyed this article. Reading texts/tweets in public has became a big distraction for our generation.. and I can only see it getting worse. Even though it’s not considered as rude, it’s just the same as starting a conversation with someone new whilst the person opposite you is mid sentence

  • Aaron Gillies

    Excellent post!! I’ve found that when my wife bakes cookies at home, or there is a potluck at work I go way overboard. I can’t help myself. But when they aren’t there, I don’t eat them. After reading your post about removing FB and email from your phone, I promptly did the same with FB and Instagram. They are just time consumers that steal time that is already limited! Great blog buddy!

  • Adam Lee

    Nate,

    Your girlfriend’s parents’ home and my parents’ home sound like the same place! I use to tell myself I’d “do better” each time I go, not eating cookies, ice cream, cereals, potato chips, etc. I’d do great with my initial feeding . . . but then I’d keep going . . . and going . . . . I’d like to say I’ve won that battle, but I’ve not. But, I do try to stay off the “battlefield”, limiting my visits. I’ve also just made my visit a scheduled free meal. Not perfect, but better . . .

    Thanks for the great writing!

    Adam

    • http://scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Hey Adam –

      I think the idea of a scheduled “eat whatever I want” meal at your parents house is a great idea. Because in the end, they’re your parents.

      Probably best to hang out with ’em. :)

      Another thing: maybe bring them some healthy treats the next time you visit.

      Here’s a free Gourmet Nutrition Desserts e-book for some ideas.

      http://www.precisionnutrition.com/desserts.pdf

  • Ned

    Great article. I can especially relate to the stuff about being hard on yourself when you slip up. I do NOT suck!

  • http://health-fanatic.com/ Tania

    Nate I know that it’s supposed to be guys only on S2B but I love all of your posts. Always such solid advice. I’m a PN grad as well and I really like your outlook and program. Now if only I could get you to coach me so that I can put on the size that I need for my figure competitions! I’d still like to have my name in the draw for the book :)

  • Larry Hou

    I plan on deleting facebook and twitter off my phone and meditating for ten minutes as soon as I wake up. Also, great post, now that summer’s here I have to manage a lot more free time.

  • John Underdown

    Thanks Nate, a good read.

    I myself follow the 5-minute rule (I guess that’s the action trigger). I tell myself whenever I have to do a chore (thankfully, gym is never a chore for me) I’ll do it for five minutes then stop, five minutes is easy. Usually, by the time the five minutes is up, Im so far through doing whatever I may as well finish.

    Works (nearly) everytime. There is a casserole dish that’s been soaking for ‘five’ minutes that needs cleaning though….

  • Andrew Ryan

    Awesome post man, I’ll have to check out that book about change, having the action triggers will be really effective with my own life as well as with clients I work with. Good stuff man.

    Temptation to remove: Facebook/email checks. Similar to how Tim ferriss’s recommends I find that I don’t miss shying when I do it in batches, but I haven’t established the habit yet.
    Trigger: check in the morning, after lunch, and once after work and only during those times.

    -Andrew

  • Jesse Colon

    Great article. This should help me become more productive each day and eliminate some bad habits that we all have. I hope to see some more great articles soon!

  • Ed Ducote

    Good words, especially, on self-loathing. I have been killing myself on the screw ups and lack of discipline.

    Temptation Removal: DID NOT buy a case of beer on the way home on a Friday afternoon.

    Action Trigger: Gonna start a Facebook Group for ‘Action triggers’. Mine is going to be 10 push-up and 10 squats on every bathroom trip for the month of June.

  • Steve

    I’ve read that when you eat that first “only one” potato chip, gummy bear, or choco-covered raisin, your brain triggers the release of a ‘pleasure’ chemical, which makes it harder to resist the 2nd, then the 3rd bite. Ever since, I’ve just turned away from looking at the temptation, and I think about my next goal weight to lift or running time that I’m in pursuit of, and that diverts my attention in the opposite direction.

  • степанов денис

    helpful article! I’ve read earlier about action triggers

  • ontheregimen

    Very relate-able story with the cinnamon rolls. Been there a thousand times, ha.

    I really enjoyed this article, Nate. Willpower is finite and precious, and removing temptation and creating triggers (something I’ve never heard of nor tried) are great ideas. Thank you.

    Mike

  • Mike Samuels

    Nice blog Nate. Can definitely resonate with this. I think by getting too anal and trying to control too much, we set ourselves up for failure.

    I recently went to Barcelona for 6 days and decided I wouldn’t try and be perfect with my diet, but would settle for “good.” Came back 3 lbs lighter and visibly leaner. Had I tried to be too strict I’m pretty sure I’d have cracked and screwed up.

    Hope it’s cool to post a link to my blog detailing the experience? :D

    http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/14-kind-of-health-and-fitness-related-things-i-learnt-in-barcelona-including-holiday-dieting-tips/