Social support and environment conditioning for your health and fitness goals

Nutrition Coach, Darragh Henry, talks about the power of social support and environmental conditioning for you health and fitness goals.

Source: Quickmeme

Setting the scene

So, you’ve decided that you’re unhappy with the way you look, feel, and live your life. You decide this has to stop and that exercising more regularly is your new habit that you will incorporate into your routine. You go buy a gym membership, some new workout clothes, some pre-workout drink labeled “Ultra-pump 3000”, as well as some whey protein. You feel super motivated. You tell yourself “this summer I’m going to get those cheese grater abs”. A month passes by and you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve been to the gym and prepared healthy meals. The clothes and supplements you bought are tucked away deep into their wardrobes and cupboards. Where did it all go wrong?

Breaking it down - The difference between 'Motion' and 'Action'

People who want to live a healthy lifestyle often think that buying certain products and a gym membership will see to this issue. Now whilst it will help it isn’t necessarily going to change your lifestyle. In his book “Atomic Habits”, author James Clear outlines how people often get motion and action mixed up when it comes to goal attainment. Let me explain what he means by this: when you want to live a healthier lifestyle you will take motion by purchasing the gym membership, the supplement stack, and the workout clothes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re taking action towards that lifestyle. The action component would be the physical and mental exertion of waking up, putting on your gym clothes, commuting to the gym, and performing the workout. People often confuse the former with the latter and become frustrated when they cannot achieve their goals.

My own 12 week transformation.

My transformation buddy, Daragh McDonnell.

Knowing that he was going through the same thing helped keep me accountable.

Image Source: Daragh McDonnell

My top tips

Here are a few of my tips to help you take ACTION!

1. Social Support;Accountability is very important. Typically, people, especially myself, are poor at keeping themselves accountable. This is why people typically look for personal trainers. Some people don’t have the disposable income for a personal trainer and that’s fine you’re spending enough money on memberships and “Ultra-pump 3000”. Instead, find a family member, friend or a work colleague with a similar goal to yours. That way if you make a plan to work out before work, during lunchtime, or after work it means that you have each other to keep accountable, meaning you’re more likely to stick to the routine. One of the biggest barriers highlighted in social science studies for people adopting new habits is social support from friends and family. If you have a friend or family member who is dragging you down and not supportive of your goal limit your time around them, if they were truly a friend, they would want to see you succeed.

2. Find a time that suits you;

“I don’t have enough time”. YES, YOU DO! We all have the same 24 hours. Sure, some days are more difficult than others, but throughout the week you have the time to exercise. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg both get their gym sessions in at 4:00am before they start their day. Now if you love your sleep and aren’t willing to get up before work that’s fine, you want a time that is sustainable for you. Box off an hour or two a few times a week that is like an appointment with yourself. Don’t let anyone else disrupt this appointment.

3. Make it obvious; One of the rules James Clear highlights as important to forming a new habit is to make it obvious. If you go home after work before going to the gym, leave your workout bag by the door or leave your workout clothes on your bed, because if you have the gym bag and clothes tucked away, you’re more likely to forget. If you want to eat healthier, put the lean protein (chicken, fish, etc) and veggies in the most obvious spot in the fridge and hide away or don’t buy the “junk food”. Place those supplements that you bought out on the countertop so that every time you walk in the kitchen they’re right there in front of you.

This is conditioning your environment, making the healthy choice the obvious and convenient one.

I’ll give an example; I was bad for flossing my teeth. Brushing them and using mouthwash was fine, but I wouldn’t really floss. To combat this, I picked up a packet of flossing sticks, placed them in a tumbler and put it on top of the sink in my bathroom. Now every time I brush my teeth before I use mouthwash, I floss my teeth because now it’s convenient. And convenience creates consistency.

Source: The Stocks, Pixaby, stevepb

I hope you can use these three tips to take action. If you can nail down these basics for action this will help you come a long way.

My take-home message would be;

Find a workout partner.Find a time that suits you both.Make your new habit obvious.

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About the Author

Darragh's philosophy includes balancing hard work and enjoying the process, and what better way to do that than with delicious, healthy food.

Email Darragh at

Find Darragh on Instagram at @darragh.henry