We are bombarded with information on fitness, nutrition, and training. There seems to be the perfect solution to achieving your fitness goals in every news feed, scientific journal, or program we come across. However, no one actually has a solution, and when they do, it’s usually a quick fix. 

So, how do you stop failing? Most fail to look at the basics that can keep the results coming, long-term. It’s the little things you do every day, often without noticing them, that will make or break you.

To get the most out of your workouts and nutrition plan, having good habits to support them are exactly what will lead you toward your goal faster and make the road much easier. 

Let’s have a closer look at how these bad habits can have an impact in all areas of your health. 

Bad Habits - Poor Sleep

Skimping on Sleep 

Sleep quality is in the eye of the beholder. Many people don’t realize they’re getting poor sleep. Let’s split up sleep disturbance into two categories.

Difficulty falling asleep

This is mostly due to, but not limited to, high cortisol levels—the stress hormone—late at night. Short of taking a blood test to measure cortisol levels, you can tell if you’re setting yourself up for high cortisol by looking into your nighttime routine. Working late is the number one culprit. The stress from working into the night increases your cortisol levels before bed. 

Your brain needs time to unwind and prepare itself for sleep. Create a pre-bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time for bed and give it time to relax. Dim the lights and close computers, tablets, and phones at least one hour before bed. Electronics emit blue spectrum light, which inhibits your body’s production of melatonin—the hormone that makes you sleepy. 

Waking up during the night

This can be a sign of a food intolerance that causes a spike in cortisol during the night. Your best bet in this case is to keep a food journal and look for patterns in your diet and disrupted sleep. Some usual suspects include dairy, nuts, gluten, and coffee. Coffee, when consumed in large quantities throughout the day, can make your sleep quality suffer. If you suspect that coffee keeps you wired, stop taking it after 2 PM.

Caving in to Late Night Munchies

A lot of old school bodybuilders buy into the idea of “night catabolism,” or losing muscle mass while you sleep. Unless you want your liver to work overtime on digestion instead of resting and regenerating, late night snacking can sabotage your results more than improve your gains. Easily digested, high quality foods are the best for pre-bedtime snacks. 

Most people consume half their daily calories close to bedtime. Blame it on a stressful day, which often leads to binge eating and bad food choices near bedtime. According to one study in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, this can increase your blood sugar levels for a full 24 hours and create a binge-eating roller coaster the following day. 

It all comes down to better food choices. Research supports the “if it fits your macros” model when choosing snacks, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some livers need the rest for regeneration while others will work fine with late snacks. At the end of the day (pun intended), light snacks are okay, but monitor how your body responds and adjust or get rid of them as you see fit. 

Skipping Breakfast

Of the many bad habits, this is the one that most people know they are guilty of, but do anyway. The biggest excuses are lack of time and not feeling hungry. 

If the president has time to eat breakfast, you should too. It’s well documented that having a nutrient dense breakfast will help you burn fat and boost your metabolism and mental acuity for the whole day. 

Tomorrow morning, eat a steak and eggs breakfast with nuts on the side. The best way to learn is to actually do it. Watch how your day goes and how energized you feel. The mental alertness, focused energy, and sense of control over your hunger will be the biggest noticeable differences. The following morning, try a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. The difference will speak for itself.