How to Create Better Habits with Less Thought

Indecisiveness creates room for excuses.

Eating better. Working out. Tidying up the home space. Crossing things off that To-Do list.

I’ll tell you one thing: If I’m flip-flopping on the decision of what to do, you better believe there’s a better chance I’ll make the lazy/unhealthy/tasty one. It’s the path of least resistance. The pleasure of indulgence with that little bit of guilt following closely at its heels. We know that routines are the best way to feel like we’ve got our lives together, but engraining those routines can be tricky when we’re leaving too much of it up to how we feel in the moment.

That’s why all of these meal planned and portion-controlled systems work. They’re removing choice from the equation. But how do we create a sustainable-healthy-productive lifestyle without feeling too trapped or having to think about it all the time? 

Ideally, the healthy decision making process gets put on auto-pilot.

I operate with a list of “Defaults” these days. Not gonna lie, I operate with several lists these days.

Think of “Defaults” as the things you eat and/or do when you’re feeling resistant to the smarter choice or you’re feeling indecisive. 

Can’t decide what meal to eat and you’re about to hit up the drive-thru?


Not sure whether to work abs or cardio, but both sound annoying?


Here are the steps to take now, so that you don’t have to think later:

1. Decide.

Stupidly simple and essential first step. Make a deal with yourself to adhere to your “Defaults” and helpful lists.

Your mind is your best tool. Not only can you decide to make the better choice, you can decide to make the better choice even when you don’t want to.

2. Make a list of your vices and find the alternatives.

French fries, cigarettes, pizza, fast food burgers, alcohol, soda, ice cream. Think of all the food items that call to you during the day, but you know you should limit or eradicate completely. Look at this list and google: “replacements for _______”. Ask Siri to search it. She lives for that stuff.

3. Go grocery shopping.

Best way to stop making unhealthy food choices is to always have a healthy alternative nearby. That’s why we grocery shop. You make your house a health haven.

Now, go to the store and make sure that you’re stocked with healthy food that you enjoy. I replace mayonnaise with greek yogurt. I don’t buy sugar at all, but I have honey. Dessert? A bar of dark chocolate or a coconut milk ice cream in a small pint. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I do like to grab some cracked wheat sourdough once a month. Carrots, celery, eggs, cans of tuna, cucumber. Simple ingredients and easy-to-grab are your goals.

Check out my post: “How to Make Being Healthy too Easy” for more tips and shopping lists.

4. Create Your List of “Defaults”.

If I can’t make a decision on what to do for a workout in 5 minutes, I default to a 20 min outside run or a 30 min yoga – 10 min strength training on YouTube.

Don’t know what to eat for dinner when you’re headed home from work? Rest assured that you’ve got the ingredients for your default meal at home and avoid ordering that pizza.

Example of a default meal. Chicken, romaine, avocado, green beans, grape tomatoes, and plain greek yogurt.

Skipping alcohol for a bit? Default to black coffee or green tea anytime you’d grab the whiskey.

Think of the habits you’d like to replace with better ones. Pick a default. Do the default. 

Detailed Example: When I want pizza (but, know I shouldn’t), I default to this meal: Quinoa and brown rice pasta, the Arrabiata Trader Joe’s pasta sauce, turkey meatballs, with fresh parmesan and a dash of some crushed red pepper in the sauce.

Think about what you’re really craving. Italian flavorings, right?


A much healthier choice that still gets the job done.

5. Make Morning and Evening Habit Lists.

Write down all the things that you want to do every morning. Write down all the things you want to do every evening. I use the “Reminders” app on my iPhone.

Look at your list. Is there anything on the Morning list that can be moved to the Evening List? Move it. Especially if you’re a night owl, like myself.

Now, when you’re deep in the lackadaisical life, you’ve got something to jog that foggy memory of yours. Think about how much you can enjoy your leisure time when you know you’ve done all the little things you wanted to do. Make sure you wear a luxurious robe while enjoying all that extra piece of mind.

One item that should always be on your Evening list: Write a list of everything you want to get done tomorrow.

6. Know what tomorrow looks like.

Going out for a friend’s birthday? Have to be up super early? Is it a holiday? You can plan around all these things and get through the day without feeling like you’ve gone completely off the rails. If you know that you’re going to be out late and drinking, make sure to prep your lunch for the next day tomorrow. Eat lighter food that day OR chalk it up to a cheat meal and just get back on track the next day.

7. Replace “Guilt” with “Self-Compassion” and “Renewed Motivation”.

Is this the way we live our entire existence? No, probably not. Unless you’re all about the intense life and have a more leveled up goal you’re working towards. But, as far as normal health maintenance and feeling like you’ve got your life together, this is a nice way to go.

You have a cheat meal here or there. You’re not always going to perfectly execute your lists because life happens and you’re a human. But, you’ve got personalized default lists to guide you now. Free up your decision making skills and brain waves so you can think about more important things.

Like what to watch on Netflix.

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