20 Small Actions to Create a Fit Environment

By Leo Babauta

I’ve learned, in the last seven years of getting fitter each year (from a really bad starting point), that when it comes to getting in shape, your environment is everything.

Small things I’ve done to change my environment make my life set up for getting fitter, slowly, gradually, but surely.

Consider two scenarios:

1. Person A has a long work day, gets home, wants to just veg out on the couch watching TV to relax. Is hungry so goes to the kitchen and gets some convenience food (he’s too tired to cook), gets some unhealthy snacks that are in the cupboard. Orders pizza later because it’s easy and there’s nothing else ready to eat besides some microwaveable stuff. After gorging on junk food, he’s too tired to do anything else but watch TV. Goes to sleep, gets up, rushes off to work, where there’s junk food all around anytime he gets hungry. Everyone else is in bad shape so he doesn’t find any motivation to work out. This cycle keeps repeating.

2. Person B has a workout time blocked into his workday, and has a workout partner waiting for him each day, so he won’t fail to do the workout. All his friends are relatively fit and often participate in various fitness challenges together. When they socialize, it often revolves around healthier foods. At home, he has no junk food, no convenience food, no snacks. No microwave. He has lots of healthy foods, and cooks them in big batches so that when he’s hungry and tired, the food just needs to be warmed on the stove. He participates in online social networks that revolve around fitness. He has no TV.

Which person is more likely to get fit? The person who has his life set up so that he’ll be likely to do the things to get fit.

The kicker, as you probably guessed, is that I am both Person A and Person B. Well, I was Person A and got overweight and unhealthy. Then I changed to Person B and got much healthier and fitter.

It was all a matter of creating the right environment. I’m happy to tell you that the changes aren’t that hard to make, and can be done over time.

Small Actions

The following are some ideas you can use to set up an environment conducive to getting fit — I’ve used them all at various times:

  1. Get rid of the snacks. Don’t keep them in your house or you’ll be more likely to eat them.
  2. Don’t buy convenience food. You’re likely to eat this when you’re too tired to cook.
  3. Instead, cook big batches of healthy food once a week. Have it in the fridge, ready to be heated up.
  4. Take healthy snacks to work.
  5. Create a healthy eating challenge with your coworkers.
  6. Join Fitocracy (invite code: zenhabits) and make friends there. Log your activities.
  7. Join a running club.
  8. Find a workout partner.
  9. Set up an appointment with your best friend to go walking or running every day.
  10. Get a coach.
  11. Set fitness challenges with your friends. Log them online, on Facebook or some other social site.
  12. Have a chinup bar in your doorway, and do a chinup every time you walk by.
  13. Join a sports team.
  14. Have nuts and fruit with you when you’re on the go.
  15. Make it hard to turn on the TV (put it in the closet or something).
  16. Use a program like LeechBlock or Freedom to shut the Internet down at a certain time each day.
  17. Have healthy potlucks with friends or family.
  18. Publicly commit to posting body pics or measurements each week on your blog.
  19. Make a list of healthy restaurants, or healthy meals at other restaurants, for when you feel like eating out.
  20. Park farther away from things so you’ll walk more.

Obviously not all of these will apply to everyone, and they’re just a start of what can be done, to give you an idea.

Setting up a fit environment doesn’t have to be hard, nor does it have to be overnight. But I challenge you to do one of these actions today, and see what happens when you start creating the right setup for a healthy life.