By davidspinks

Look, we’re not going to sugar coat it, the odds are against you.

A study conducted by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol in 2007 showed that 88% of people who set New Years resolutions fail.

Now if you’ve read the Feast Blog at all, you know the one thing that we’re obsessed with is building healthy habits. We think about it day in and day out.

Our entire company was built to help people build new habits.

That’s why we thought we’d share some of the most common causes for resolution destruction and tell you how you can avoid them.

7. You don’t get specific enough with your goals

This is a huge mistake that people make. Think about the resolutions that you hear people make. They’re vague and they have no end in sight.

"I’m going to get into shape"

What does “in shape” mean to you?

How will you get into shape? 

When will you be successful?

Instead, it should be something like, “I’m going to build a habit of running. My goal will be accomplished when I can run 5 miles and run every day for 30 days straight. As a result, I want to lose 5 pounds and improve my energy throughout the work day.”

Or maybe your resolution is to “learn how to cook”. 

That’s way too vague. What does learning how to cook mean? Is it cooking dinner every day? Is it cooking breakfast? Is it learning 10 new recipes?

Get specific with your goal. The very first day of the Feast Bootcamp, we teach our students to think through their goals and set specific things they want to accomplish.

6. You start too big

So you want to run every day. Great! Let me guess. You figure you’ll start by running 3 miles every morning?

That’s going to take a whole lot of willpower at the start of every day. That might work a few times while you’re still really focused on sticking with it, but as soon as you stop focusing on it, your old habits will start to take over.

Instead, you should start so small that it would be ridiculous NOT to do the daily task. Dr. BJ Fogg calls this “tiny habits”. The idea is that you do a tiny habit every day, and then build on top of it over time.

So for running, instead of trying to run 3 miles every day starting on day 1, you should start by putting your shoes on. That’s it, just put your running shoes on in the morning.

If you want to start cooking dinner every day, you should start by putting a pan on the stove when you get home from work. Then only after you’ve established that tiny habit should you start to add some oil to the pan and start cooking.

5. You try to change multiple habits

Stick with one resolution. It’s obviously hard enough to just do one so just stick with that.

The good news is that by changing one good habit, you improve your ability to change other habits in the future.

You’ll understand what it will take for you to build a new habit. You also build up your willpower, like a muscle.

4. You don’t plan for consistency

My New Years Resolution for 2014 is to read every day. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to build this new habit. I’ve tried and failed before.

This time I know I’ll fail again if I don’t plan for a consistent time that I can read every day.

My problem is that I leave reading up to my completely inconsistent schedule. I read during times when I’m traveling, sometimes before I go to bed, sometimes during a break. It’s always changing, which means I’m not actually building a habit.

Charles Duhigg writes in the “Power of Habit” about keeping the trigger and the reward the same when building a new habit. So if I want to read, the trigger might be when I pull the covers over me before going to sleep. Or it might be right after I finish eating dinner. 

For cooking, we recommend setting your habit to take place after triggers like closing your door after walking in from work. 

Try to keep the trigger and timing as consistent as possible.

3. You don’t plan for challenges

You will run into challenges. 

So you want to cook every day but maybe you’ll open your fridge and realize the milk went bad. Maybe you’ll feel lazy after work. Maybe you don’t have time in the mornings to make lunch.

You should write these challenges down. Think about everything that might stop you from keeping up the habit and write them down. Then write down some possible solutions to each of those challenges.

This way, when they come up (and they will), you don’t have to come up with a solution on the spot. You’ve already envisioned this situation and thought through a logical solution. 

2. You don’t reward yourself

Often we force ourselves to do these resolutions and it becomes this miserable experience that we dread every day.

But it shouldn’t be all pain and no gain! You need to reward yourself. Not just because it feels good but because it will actually reinforce your habit. Human beings are animals too, and our brain adapts to things that feel good and things that feel bad.

If you cook dinner and then treat yourself to a piece of chocolate, a beer, sing a song, do a dance or even just pat yourself on the back, that sends the message to your brain that this is good and should become a habit.

1. You don’t tell anyone and there’s no accountability

Don’t keep your resolutions to yourself! Stats show that by telling other people about your resolution you improve the chances that you’ll stick with it.

Even better, find other people who can do it with you. That social support (and pressure) will help keep you committed. It will hold your accountable. That’s why we put so much focus on community in the Feast Bootcamp. Our students are there for each other.

You can also do simple things to hold yourself accountable, like the Jerry Seinfeld technique where he would draw an X on the calendar every day that he wrote down a joke. This way, he could see when he’d break the chain.

So there you have it. Now that you know why so many people fail to stick with their new years resolutions you can make sure to approach yours the right way.

What is your resolution? You can start by holding yourself accountable and commenting here!

Photo Credit: Harsh1.0 via Compfight cc

By nayafia


Been slacking off on cooking this month? Eating out? Spending money?

It’s okay. Me too.

Just before the holidays, I had started experimenting with a new eating schedule that’s been making my body feel really good. I was two weeks in before flying out to the East Coast for the holidays to visit family, throwing off my whole schedule again. But I’m not worried about it. At Feast, we pick our battles wisely.

The holidays are a great way to wrap up the year, reflect on the past year’s challenges and accomplishments, and celebrate before tucking in to the following year.

With that is going to come the inevitable holiday feasts, drinking, and general resulting sluggishness.

It’s the frickin holidays. You’re celebrating another year of being an awesome human. Don’t, even for a second, feel bad about your pots and pans getting dusty.

By restricting yourself and watching enviously as your coworkers and friends drink and eat with reckless abandon, you’re setting yourself up for guilty bingefests. Psychologists Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman have been demonstrating this principle since 1985. Their findings suggest that when people are on a restricted diet that causes stress or preoccupation, they’re more likely to indulge those behaviors later.

If you tell yourself it’s ok to indulge this month, you’re more likely to be able to relax and make more balanced decisions. The forbidden fruit of holiday food doesn’t look quite as tempting anymore.

I still value eating well, and more importantly, I still hate how I feel when I overeat, so even though I may be eating out at restaurants or dining with relatives right now, I continue to observe these practices:

  1. Don’t eat unless I feel hungry.
  2. Favor real, whole foods when possible.
  3. Don’t eat more filler food than I need (like bread rolls or rice).
  4. Eat slowly and mindfully.
  5. When my stomach is full, stop.

Rather than arbitrary rules that some schmoe told me to follow, I think of these as things I personally value when I eat, that will never change regardless of diet, location, income, social pressures, or time of year.

One of the nice things about forming habits is once they’re engrained into your brain, they’re a lot easier to pick up if you fall off the track, because you’re not learning a whole new set of behaviors from scratch. You’ve internalized how to grocery shop efficiently, how to chop vegetables quickly, how to whip up a meal without a recipe.

So when January rolls around and I’m back to my old routines, I’m confident I can get back into my regular cooking schedule again.

Until then, calorie counting? Fat and sugar content? It’s all good around holiday time.

Enjoy those gingerbread men. We’ll catch up with you in the kitchen when you’re ready again.

By davidspinks


"Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night." -William Blake

The morning is an important time in the day, packed with potential for fitness, reflection, planning, eating, writing…whatever it is that you need to start the day flying.

We all know this yet one of the most common challenges people face on a daily basis is getting out of bed in the morning.

I’ve suffered with a snoozing problem for a long time. Sometimes I can snooze for up to 2 hours (not kidding).

My brain is still half asleep right when the alarm goes off and almost instinctually I’ll roll over, snooze and go right back to sleep for 9 minute intervals. By the time I actually awake, hours have passed by and I’ll have barely noticed. It’s a serious problem.

I’ve tried so many things to fix it over the years. I moved my alarm across the room, I bought a clocky (that thing that rolls off your table and all around your room forcing you to chase it), I tried different alarm clocks and rings. 

I’ve recently started to get better at controlling this bad habit and I want to share some of my lessons with you, but first lets talk about why snoozing is so bad for you.

When you snooze:

1. You aren’t actually getting rest

2. You start the day failing

3. You deplete your willpower to make decisions because you have to decide to snooze every time

4. You miss the opportunity to do the things you want to do in the morning

5. You spend the rest of the day feeling like you’re behind and you have to catch up

6. According to Jamie Condliffe, you can also expect impairments in your memory, reaction time, comprehension and attention.

So if it’s so bad for us, why do we do it?

If it makes you feel any better, it’s not just you being lazy. It’s that damn body of yours always telling you what to do.

See, when you begin your sleep, your body releases serotonin into your bloodstream. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s associated with well-being and happiness, which is why it feels so damn good to fall asleep. 

When it’s time to wake up, your body knows and starts to pump dopamine into your bloodstream to begin the wake up process.

So every time you snooze, you’re confusing your body into releasing both serotonin and dopamine, causing a whole lot of chemical confusion, making it increasingly hard to get your butt out of bed and get the day started.

So how do you fix it?

Here are a few things that have worked for me:

1. Go to sleep earlier

Probably the simplest but also most difficult solution is to just go to sleep earlier.

If you give your body the full amount of rest it needs, you’ll start to wake up naturally before your alarm even goes off.

Imagine what it was like for people before we had alarm clocks. Humans have an internal clock to manage when we sleep and wake up. We’ve only recently become reliant on machines to wake us up.

So you have the tools built into your brain, now you just have to give them control. 

2. Take naps

Think napping is just for kids? Think again.

Lots of famous people took naps throughout history.

If you can’t get to bed earlier, sneaking some shut eye into your day can do the trick.

3. Change the habit

The first big thing that worked for me was to change my habit.

In the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, he explains that in order to change a habit, you must keep the trigger the same and change the routine. 

If you can keep the reward the same as well, then that’s better. I realized that snoozing for me was often more about control than actual sleep. I could control when I would wake up.

What I did was start to change my routine from alarm—>snooze—>control I replaced snoozing with putting my running shoes on. 

That’s it. I didn’t have to run, but I would have to put my shoes on every morning as soon as the alarm went off.

4. Put things in the way of your alarm

To make it easier for me to stick to the new routine, I would put socks over my phone so that in order to turn the alarm off, I’d have to move the socks. That would force me to face the decision of putting on my shoes or snoozing instead of making it easy for my half awake brain to just collapse back into bed.

5. Set your goals the day before

This is a big one that people don’t think about so much.

Often, we struggle to get out of bed not because of anything physical, but rather mental and emotional.

The phases when I’ve been the worst at getting out of bed, I remember waking up feeling depressed. I felt overwhelmed by the obstacles I’d have to face that day. I wouldn’t know where to get started. And so I’d snooze and snooze just to put off having to face the day.

By setting my goals and tasks the day before, when I wake up I know exactly what to do first. The uncertainty of what to do in order to achieve my goals no longer haunts me in the morning.

6. Find meaning

I know, this one is a little vague and not exactly actionable. But we’ll dig into how to do this in another post, promise.

The point here is that when you’re living a life of meaning, it gives you a really good reason to wake up energizes every day. 

The greatest way to find meaning in your life is to help others. When you snooze and you’re only hurting yourself it’s one thing but when you have a responsibility to others, it gives you a jolt in the morning to get your day started.

They’re counting on you.

Photo Credit: purplemattfish via Compfight cc

By nayafia


For years, I’ve been using a password storage system that I’m embarrassed to admit to. It’s, well, it’s a little archaic.

It started about five years ago when I emailed myself a password so I’d have it handy, thinking I’d file it away later. That never happened. And neither did any of the other passwords I continued to email myself for the next five years.

I knew my method of remembering my passwords was ridiculously insecure. I knew that if anyone broke into my Gmail, they’d have access to my entire life.

But it was just so darn easy to look up my password by typing it into the search box. And as the passwords built up, it made the cost of switching higher and higher.

Finally, last week, I was hanging out with friends and the topic of passwords came up. I told them how I just “hadn’t gotten around” to doing something better.

My friend looked at me point-blank and asked: “Well, why not? What’s keeping you from just doing it already?”

I opened my mouth to reply, then realized I didn’t have an excuse.

When it came down to it, my only excuse was that I was just being plain lazy. It would take me a couple of hours to fix my system, and that was absolutely worth saving myself a potential security headache. If I added it to my to-do list, I’d make sure to get it done the next day, once and for all.

And I did.

Get Specific With Your Excuses

In the Feast 30 Day Bootcamp, you don’t cook a thing in the first week.

We spend the first week breaking down your old habits and replacing them with new ones. You don’t have to touch a stove if you don’t want to.

This sounds silly to some people. “I don’t cook anything for an entire week of this class? What the hell am I paying for?”

We do this because we know that without getting specific on why you haven’t yet learned how to cook, any cooking techniques we throw at you are going to be meaningless.

In the case of my password situation, I had received recommendations from friends over the years for password managers. 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass. I’d had friends whose email accounts got hacked. I knew the dangers of not changing my ways.

But it was only when my friend stared me down and blatantly asked me - with that little look of judgment that made me want to crawl in a corner - “What excuse do you have for not doing this?” that I finally - after YEARS of beating around the bush - decided to do something about it.

So if you’ve been meaning to cook for years, but like me, just “haven’t gotten around to it”, what’s your excuse?

Sometimes those excuses are fears, sometimes they’re inconveniences. During the bootcamp, we don’t accept answers like “Cooking is hard” or “I don’t have time”.

Why don’t we accept those answers? Because they’re vague, and therefore non-actionable.

Make Your Excuses Actionable

Saying “Cooking is hard” is not actionable. There is no clear solution to fix that problem, or there are too many possible solutions without digging deeper.

Saying "Cooking is a pain because I never know what to make" or "I never have anything at home to cook"…those are actionable.

  • "I never know what to make" - Sign up for a meal planning service, Google recipe ideas, subscribe to a food blog
  • "I never have anything at home to cook" - Set up a weekly routine to get to the grocery store, get groceries delivered to you

When you fall back on non-actionable excuses like “I haven’t gotten around to it” or “It’s too hard”, it’s easy to continue what you’re doing, because it’s hard to argue with such vague logic.

When you can pinpoint your excuse and call it out by name, like “I don’t have groceries” or “I don’t know what to make”, it’s harder to ignore, because the solutions are more obvious and you feel bad for not taking action.

Your brain knows how to size and scope the time and effort needed to implement one of those actions, versus tackling the big, hairy, scary idea of “getting around to it”.

A well-written to-do list follows the same logic. If you include big, non-actionable items on a to-do list, like "Figure out healthcare", you’ll be much less likely to act on it than if you start with the first, small, yet actionable item that leads to that bigger accomplishment - like "Email 3 friends to ask them what health insurance they use".

If you keep saying you want to learn how to cook, but haven’t done a thing to start learning, start by figuring out what specifically is blocking you from taking that first step, and brainstorm some small things you could do to take action on it. So if it’s “I never have anything at home to make”, your action item might be “Sign up for Instacart”. Pick the most reasonable-sounding action and add it to your to-do list for tomorrow.

To keep the habit-forming goodness going, check out the Feast Bootcamp. We’ll start you off small and walk you through the process of becoming a cook over 30 days.

By davidspinks


We’re huge fans of anyone who can make cooking feel simple.

Michael Pollan is pretty much the boss when it comes to helping people understand how to eat and live healthy without having to think too hard.

He’s written some of the most famous books about how we eat, cook and create food. His most recent book is called “Cooked" in which he argues,

"Taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life."

As a huge inspiration for our work here at Feast, we wanted to share some of his wisdom with you.

Here are 7 lessons passed down from the man himself…

1. It’s all about moderation and plants

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 
― Michael Pollan

Want to start eating healthy but not sure where to begin? Just start moderating how much you eat and try to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Boom, you are instantly more knowledgable about nutrition. Enjoy the rest of your healthy life.

2. Cooking can relieve your stress instead of creating it

“The repetitive phases of cooking leave plenty of mental space for reflection.”

― Michael Pollan

So many people think of cooking as a chore today because we’re so used to outsourcing it to others. When we actually have to do it ourselves, it feels like an inconvenience.

But people who cook regularly don’t feel that way. When you get into the habit of cooking, it becomes a time to relax, clear your mind, find your flow and actually relieves stress.

3. Cooks are mentally strong, independent individuals

"To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption."

― Michael Pollan

In a world where we can specialize in our “one thing” and outsource everything else, so many of us have forgotten what it feels like to use our hands, to create something, to feed ourselves… to survive.

Cooking is as human as it gets. It shows that we can take care of ourselves and we don’t have to rely on someone else to survive. 

A cook is a survivor and a provider…so pretty much a badass.

4. Cooking connects you with nature

“When you’re cooking with food as alive as this — these gorgeous and semigorgeous fruits and leaves and flesh — you’re in no danger of mistaking it for a commodity, or a fuel, or a collection of chemical nutrients. No, in the eye of the cook or the gardener … this food reveals itself for what it is: no mere thing but a web of relationships among a great many living beings, some of them human, some not, but each of them dependent on each other, and all of them ultimately rooted in soil and nourished by sunlight.” 

― Michael Pollan

If you never cook your food, you’re missing out on a pretty cool experience: seeing ingredients in their raw form.

Think about it. If you always eat out and order in, you barely ever see foods in their natural form! You see it prepared, wrapped, bagged, boxed and processed.

As you start cooking more often, you’ll start to feel more in tune with good ol’ mother nature. You’ll start to understand your food and where it comes from on a deeper level because you’ll see it, smell it and touch it before you even wash it and taste it.

5. Cooking = Loving

“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?” 
― Michael Pollan

Picking up the tab for someone’s dinner is pretty cool. 

But you know what’s much cooler? Feeding the people you love and care about.

Cooking takes time, thought, creativity and consideration. It’s truly a gesture of love and goodwill to feed another human being. 

Not only is the act of cooking for others just romantic and filled with warm fuzzies, but the actual act of eating together makes it that much better.

When you cook for others, YOU bring them together. You become a community builder, a facilitator, a caretaker…you spread that good love around like butter on banana bread.

6. Eat real food

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” 
― Michael Pollan

Another good health tip, stick to the real stuff. If something has been processed so much that you can’t even tell what it is, you should probably pass.

We’re not saying you should only eat things that you’ve made from scratch. It’s just good to be aware of what’s in your food and if it’s been altered so much it doesn’t even look like food, then it’s probably not very healthy.

7. By simply cooking, you can become healthier

"The answer to the whole food and health problem isn’t a nutrient, good or bad, it’s an activity: Cooking."

― Michael Pollan

This is obviously our favorite lesson of all. Who knew that with all the diets, workouts and supplements, all you really needed to do first was to start cooking!

In fact a study from the fine folks at Cambridge found that "Those who cook up to 5 times a week are 47% more likely to still be alive after 10 years."

So step up. Get your apron on. Let’s get cooking.

Not sure where to start? Become a cook in 30 days with the Feast Bootcamp

Photo cred: Peter Yang

A blog about life improvement, health, habit building and happiness