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How to Create an Outdoor Habit that Works for You (Sarah Hays Coomer)

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It’s easy to know you want to make a change or even what kind of change you want to make. But how can you create a habit that actually works for you? How do you know the right actions to take to make that habit sustainable long term?

The answer might just be found in mindfulness and knowing enough about who you are and what you need. That understanding can establish a habit that works for you, says our guest, Sarah Hays Coomer.

Sarah is Humans Outside’s unofficial very own habit expert who authored the book The Habit Trip, A Fill-in-the Blank Journey to a Life on Purpose. She’s also a Mayo Clinic and nationally board certified wellness coach, author of the Forbes column Hey, Health Coach and a personal trainer.

Some of the good stuff:

[3:39] Sarah Hays Coomer’s favorite outdoor space

[4:50] How Sarah became someone who likes to go outside

[8:45] How to create a new habit

[14:41] Examining yourself to understand what you need

[19:14] What, exactly, is mindfulness?

[22:21] What mindfulness has to do with creating a new habit

[24:57] Can you create a new habit without mindfulness?

[28:35] The important difference between rules and power-over

[34:08] How mindfulness can impact a non-mindful habit

[40:00] Sarah’s favorite and most essential outdoor gear

[43:44] Sarah’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Register for our newsletter to win a decal: https://humansoutside.com/newsletter

Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz 0:06

No matter who you are or where you go, heading outside is always worth it. Welcome to Humans Outside where we’re using the Humans Outside 365 Challenge to build a life around spending time in nature while learning from fascinating outdoor-minded guests. I’m Amy Bushatz. I’ve let curiosity be my guide as a journalist for 18 years, but life, including my husband’s war injuries, has burnt us out. So we moved sight unseen to Alaska to see if a change of scenery and new focus on outdoors was just the shift we needed. Since September 2017, I’ve spent at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day, no matter what, to explore how nature can change my life. Ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are while we work to do the same? Let’s go.

When we talk about spending time in nature every day and building a life around getting outdoors, what we’re really talking about is creating a new habit, one that gets us outside. You can like to go outside or find value in going outside every day. But that’s not what is gonna get you out there even when the weather’s bad or when life is busy or overwhelming. What gets you out there every day, no matter what, is that habit. Here at Humans Outside we have our very own habit expert, Sarah Hays Coomer. Sarah joined us in early 2021 to talk about the nuts and bolts of building an outdoor habit. You also may have heard us rerun that episode recently as one of our “best of” episodes. But because we know we can never spend enough time learning the whys and hows of habit as we look to create that daily pattern, Sarah has been so awesome as to offer to come back again this year for the kickoff of Humans Outside season five. And we’ve got a special theme for season five, by the way. We’re going to focus on how to utilize nearby nature and why getting outside daily doesn’t only have to be a big to do or an event with a capital E, but how you can and should use what’s right outside your front door. And that starts before anything else with noticing what you have. A little bit about Sarah, before we get started. Sarah is a Mayo Clinic and Nationally Board Certified Wellness Coach, author of the Forbes column Hey, Health Coach, a personal trainer, and author of The Habit Trip: A Fill in the Blank Journey to Life on Purpose. Sarah, thanks so much for coming back to Humans Outside for season five. I am thrilled to speak with you again.

Sarah Hays Coomer 2:44

Amy, thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here and your work is such an inspiration to be watching you run around outside on the side.

AB 2:53

Well, thank you. And I love that we’re now at a point in this podcast adventure where I can have repeat guests who I just love. This is so fun. So I think it’s decided, I’ve been doing this long enough that I can ask people back. Thanks for doing it. All right. So you know, because you’ve been on the show before that we always start our episodes talking to our guests like imagining ourselves in their favorite outdoor space. And the last time you were here, we talked about your favorite space as being the top of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California. So I want to know, are we there with you again? Are we somewhere else? And wherever we are, would you mind describing it?

SC 3:39

I mean, always, yes, the top of Griffith Park is my touch point, it’s my place that I go to make sure I’m still human and still myself. And if I’m down, it always lifts me up. So you can see the observatory from there, on a clear day, you can see the ocean. And you can also see the skyscrapers downtown. So it really gives me a kind of peace. It’s a place that I went to for many, many years when I was dealing with some pretty dark times. And it’s just a beautiful, wonderful place that I go back to. But we were just talking before we went on air here about skiing and it made me think about how in February, I’m going to get to go up to the Rocky Mountains and go skiing, which those mountain tops are another spot where I tend to find my happy place. So today I’m thinking about that.

AB 4:25

Awesome. Yes. It’s nice to have multiple Happy Places so we can travel around to them, depending on the day. So there you go. We also talked last time about how you became someone who leans on nature for health and who likes to go outside. But I’m hoping you can give us a reminder again for the folks who may not have heard that episode. What is your story?

SC 4:50

Yeah, so um, I started out many, many years ago, I was everything. I was a street performer. I was an actor, I was a singer songwriter, I was doing all kinds of creative endeavors in my early 20s, and really, really struggling a lot with depression, anxiety, body image, things like that. And I moved to Los Angeles and I was working a steady happy day job in a human resources department at the House of Blues corporate headquarters, and really started to discover that nature was therapy for me. And that being outside was something that I could turn to in a way that talk therapy wasn’t quite working for me at the time. So I started going hiking in Griffith. And it was one of those things where I knew that the days that I didn’t want to do it the most were the ones when I needed it the most. And I gave myself a lot of flexibility and permission around it, I would just go to the base of the mountain. And if that was as far as I got, that was okay, I would turn back around and get back in my car, go back to my apartment. But most days, I was able to make it up the first little crest, which would take about, you know, 15-20 minutes. And then once I got there, I almost always wanted to continue and, you know, I was childless at the time, so I could do my thing. So I would go up there usually for about an hour a day. And it healed me, it was everything for me. So I started to realize that I wanted to be in the realm of wellness and fitness, but I didn’t jive very well with the gym culture at the time. So I did go ahead and get my national certification for personal training, and focus specifically on people with challenges, people who were dealing with, whether it was you know, chronic pain, injury, eating disorders, body image, menopause, pregnancy, any kind of thing where they were trying to figure out how to make peace with and how to strengthen their bodies. So I was never, you know, running marathons, or training people for boot camps or anything like that. It was a gentle approach to training and fitness and wellness. And over time, I just felt like those voices weren’t being heard and seen in the press in the wellness world. So I started writing for some magazines, freelance, and then eventually got into book publishing. And now I have three books on the topic.

AB 7:27

Yes, very prolific. And I have to say, as somebody who is attempting to get a book published, boy, is that hard! Good job!

SC 7:36

The first one took me about 10 years.

AB 7:40

People, appreciate what a feat of nature that is to get a book printed by somebody else.

SC 7:45

It is quite a challenge for sure.

AB 7:49

Yeah, not a not a small thing. Well, thank you for telling us your story. And we, like I said in the intro, lean on you for your habit building expertise, which you of course have established through learning about wellness and, and coaching wellness. So we like that intersection here. Because of course, heading outside is a matter of wellness. And so it just makes sense. So thank you.

SC 8:18

I’m happy to be here.

AB 8:20

We’re really gonna focus today on two things, mindfulness, and what accessibility has to do with habit. But before we get there, can you walk us through just those, speaking of habit, basic steps for building a new habit, if someone wants to start building a new habit today, going outside every day and make that a part of their daily practice? What should they do?

SC 8:45

So, in my private coaching, and in some coursework that I’m currently building out, I work a lot with people who are sort of non conformists, they don’t deal well with people telling them what to do and with really strict structured prescriptions. It’s really important when you think about building a new habit, to look at the idea of putting yourself in a position of power, where you get to choose what you are building into your life, and what kinds of things are going to impact and improve your quality of life. So that is what can be distinguished from a lot of the approaches that you hear about that tend to feel like control so like, I’m going to do a new habit, I’m going to go outside every day. This is exactly when this is the you know, this is the structure of it. So instead, making it your own and, and making it about choice rather than making it about controlling yourself or your body or your choices that of course applies to food choices and anything else that you’re trying to kind of tweak in your life, so it’s all about you and your autonomy and agency to be able to choose what your what’s gonna make a big difference for you. And I know that people listening to this podcast are learning and growing outdoor habits, which is, you know, the science is now showing that that’s just hugely, hugely important for health and happiness and well being. So um, once you have decided this habit is the one that’s going to genuinely improve my life, and here’s how I want to do it, then you’re looking at three parts, which are the classic three parts of a habit, which are detailed beautifully in the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, or also in my book, The Habit Trip, where you can learn about these three parts. So there’s a cue, or a trigger, which is the thing that alerts you—Oh, it’s time for your habit. So if somebody is, you know, a snacker, after dark, and they’ve put their kids to bed or whatever, and they’re sitting down in front of the TV, this is when I watch TV and eat my snacks. If that’s something that somebody wants to change, then what that is, is really the time of day is what’s triggering you. And those can be like, time of day, it can be a person in your life that triggers you to do a certain activity that you don’t want to do. And then when you’re trying to build a new habit, you can use this cue. So when I get up in the morning and brush my teeth is when I go outside, and I have my 20 minutes outside, or you know, it’s when I do my 10 pushups in the morning, or whatever it is that you’re trying to implement. So cue is part one, part two is the routine itself. So that would be either going outside or sitting in front of the TV and eating your snacks. And then the reward is the payoff. So what are you getting immediately out of this thing? What is the short term payoff? So it can’t be like, I’m gonna lose 10 pounds in a month or two? It needs to be what am I getting out of it immediately in the moment that is rewarding, and it’s a payoff for me? So when you have a habit like snacking after dinner that you want to change, the reward is probably something in the realm of relief, or, you know, downtime or feeling like it’s me time or you know, whatever kind of real, genuine kind of comfort that you’re getting from that. Because what we call them bad habits, they’re really just coping mechanisms. And they make a lot of sense. And so if we can approach them with that kind of generosity and kindness, and we can realize, ah, I’m just I’m managing, I’m managing, which was a big deal for everybody this past couple of years, right? Then you can go, okay, so it’s the comfort that I’m craving. And here’s the cue that time of day. So what can I insert into that routine, that center part that’s going to still give me that sense of comfort. And, and, and have that payoff and I’m longing for?

AB 13:08

I want to go back to something you said about shaping a habit to be something that’s for you versus something that you’re told to do. Because I think that’s really, that’s really important. And when we hear people talk about New Year’s resolutions, or we hear somebody like me suggest you go outside for 20 minutes a day, every day, it’s easy to feel like, okay, I have to do what this person’s saying. Like, obviously, this is a good idea, because this is what’s suggested, when the reality is we know that resolutions to go to the gym all the time, don’t work, right. That’s a fact, okay. And we know that maybe going outside for 20 minutes a day isn’t what is best for you. But there are plenty of things that say that going to the gym is a good idea because exercise is good, right? And that going outside is even better because fresh air and all the other various benefits we talk about a lot on this podcast. So how you get to the point where you utilize exercise, in the case of the gym, or going outside in the case of this, isn’t as important as the outcome, right like that you are moving and that you are being outside. And so you, to make that success, what you’re saying is, have to pick or examine your own self to understand how to get to the point where that’s practical and meaningful and able to be a habit for you. Right?

SC 14:41

Yeah, I mean, you know, what are you craving? Hmm? What feels like friction in your life right now, what feels bad, you know, whether that’s—I’m not sleeping or my back hurts all the time or my digestion isn’t quite right or I’m feeling down. What is off? Because we’re usually pretty aware of those. And then what are you craving? What is the actual resolution that you’re craving? And then what are the habits that you think are going to get you there, which may or may not be the case, it has to be a process of experimentation and play, to figure out what those things are. And then what is a miniature version of that, that you can start with, which is why I love your 20 minutes so much. And I think we talked about this last time too, like, it can be five, you know, it can be one, it can be going outside for three deep breaths, you have to start where you are. Because the most important thing when you want to start building a new habit is confidence. We all have so much evidence that we’ve failed, you know, again, and again, at trying to implement new habits and change our behaviors. So we have to build in psychology, it’s called self efficacy. We have to build this knowing that we’re capable. And if we start small, then we’re a lot more likely to be like—ooh, that two minutes outside every day is feeling really nice. And then that question of what are you craving, then you crave more, and then you get that pay off immediately. And then you want to build on it and do more things.

AB 16:25

Yeah, this is precisely why I have stopped suggesting that people do 20 minutes outside today. I mean, I think that’s a great number. Right. But yeah, \and I still suggest that. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’ve stopped saying that’s the standard. Because the standard is exactly what you said, whatever feels good to you, whatever works for the person who’s doing it. And maybe that grows into 20 minutes later. And that was what felt good to me. I had other reasons for picking that too. But it felt good for those reasons, right. And so that’s what I picked. But when we talk about the Humans Outside 365 Challenge, for which we have helpful kits now for sale on HumansOutside.com. The idea there is that you are picking your challenge and you are doing what’s right for you.

Hey, humans, did you know you can officially join the Humans Outside 365 Challenge and score some really cool and exclusive challenge swag, including a finisher medal and decal on HumansOutside.com/challenge. You’ll also get an outdoor challenge guide written by me for you, and exclusive challenge tracker insider info all year long. You don’t want to be left out of this, there is never a wrong time to join the Humans Outside 365 Challenge. So get going and join it today. Go to HumansOutside.com/challenge to learn more now. Now, back to the show.

This season, we’re talking a lot about nearby nature and using nature that’s right outside your front door without making a big to do about it. That’s one of our themes. And as I was thinking about this, I realized it comes down to a few important steps, like changing how you think about nature, to not be this grand, like far off random thing. And then letting the definition include what’s around you. So that’s the accessibility piece. But I’ve started to wonder if that very first step to broadening that definition is something that you were just mentioning, which is noticing yourself and then noticing what you have. And we can call that mindfulness, even though maybe that sounds kind of foo foo for some people. So let’s talk about mindfulness. What is mindfulness? And am I suggesting too simple of a definition?

SC 19:14

So mindfulness is nonjudgmental awareness. A lot of people focus on the awareness part, and they make it all about how I’m supposed to empty my mind and clear my thoughts and all of that. But that leaves out the nonjudgmental part and the thoughts that come up in our minds as we’re sitting quietly and trying to check in with ourselves. How am I feeling and what are those friction points and all that stuff? Those thoughts are actually really helpful. In fact, they’re crucial to developing more mindfulness because mindfulness is the process of allowing those thoughts to come up and letting them come through and sort of move on to the next one without getting hooked by the emotional fallout that comes with that, and the psychological fallout. And then the physical fallout, honestly, that comes with getting hooked on every little thought that we have, and then spiraling and going down a rabbit hole. So the thoughts that come up, I like to view them as a gift, like—Oh, look at that. And you just sort of go—Aha, there it is, there’s that thought again—and take a deep breath, and the thought might come right back again. And then you take a deep breath, and then the thought comes back. But you get used to letting the thought come up, and then letting it pass nonjudgmentally. And when you’re able to start doing that, I mean, the research is deep on this, it just, it reduces your stress level, it reduces your cortisol levels, just in the same way that nature does. So nature can be really helpful with that too, to just kind of use nature as your tool. You know, I’ve had clients who will just you know, they’ve got seriously stressful, high pressure jobs in office buildings that they just don’t get out of all day long. They miss all of the sunshine. And they have just developed a habit of saying—I’m gonna step outside the building right now. And then I’m gonna step back inside. And they start developing neurological pathways that don’t, like I said, hook you in and pull you in. So you’re, you’re not able to separate from that and just let it be what it is. I have one client who says work less, care less. That’s her mantra right now. Yeah. So, you know, she’s still doing the job. Actually, she’s finding that she’s doing the job better. Because she’s not as attached to all of those outcomes.

AB 21:47

Right, exactly. Um, yeah. Because, when you said work less, care less, I thought, yeah, if you work less, you’ll care less. But I think she probably means both right. Like I’m purposing to work less, then purposing to care less about the things that are out of my control, which I think also I could, I could use some of that. So there’s that. What does mindfulness have to do with building any habit? Not just not specifically going outside, just literally any habit?

SC 22:21

We have this lovely cue, routine, reward, right. But before the cue, in order to notice the cue, in order to notice that it’s 8pm and that habit is coming up again, you have to have awareness, and you have to be nonjudgmental about it. Because if you’re going to try to jump in and start controlling it, then your inner, you know, renegade teenager is gonna come out and be like—no, no, I’m gonna do this anyway, because I deserve it. And then you know, later on that evening, you’re feeling regret. So that the awareness piece, the nonjudgmental awareness piece comes in that moment, when you have to pause, notice that the cue is happening, and then—what am I going to do from there? And for that, I use something called a gap ritual with my clients, which is a tool that it’s not the decision itself about what routine am I going to follow up with, what are my options, what would I like to choose instead of this other routine that I’ve had before? But it’s an interruption. So it’s like, run your hands under cold water, or do a single push up, or hang upside down on the couch. Anything that will physically interrupt or in this case, step outside, anything that will physically interrupt your body and your brain long enough that you can then make a conscious decision. And then you get to choose what you want. And if you want to choose the comfort of eating your snack and sitting in front of the TV, then you can choose that, but you’re doing it on purpose, which means you lose all that guilt and all that frustration passes away with that.

AB 24:15

Yeah, I have a snack habit in the evening. I would like to break it. It does no one any good. Not only is it self sabotage, but like I like, I do have regret. And I’m not actually hungry. Right? I’m just hitting the chip bag or whatever. I think I’ll start doing a push up, because that’s a really good idea. And then maybe I’ll get better at push ups at the same time. I see what you’re doing. So um, is it possible to successfully create a new habit without mindfulness?

SC 24:57

So the word mindfulness puts some people off, understandably, because it’s associated with a lot of fufu stuff. Yes. So, as we said, yes. So, I would like to say yes. And you can’t do it without conscious decision making. So you can call that whatever you want. But there has to be some kind of choice. And in order to make a choice, you have to get out of your, you know, limbic system and into your conscious brain. So, you know, if you want to call that I think you need some level of awareness. And you can call it mindfulness or not, I guess that’s my answer.

AB 25:48

Yeah. My limbic system really likes kettle chips in the evening. And dark chocolate; often, like right, one after the other. Just saying, Yeah, delicious.

SC 26:03

You should not have to have a life without those things, either, right?

AB 26:07

No, no, but I really want them, just like, I really want going outside or not going outside, to be a decision. And it bothers me when I do things that I feel like I’m not in control of. So just like it bothers me, when I know that I do in fact, want to go outside, I do. But I’m watching the snow blow over or yesterday, it was snowing a lot. And it was really blowy. And I hadn’t done my 20 minutes. And I knew that if I did it, like it was one of those days where it would have been so easy just to say—You know what, it’s almost like the weather outside is frightful, quote, unquote. You know, I think I’m staying here now. Um, and I had to make myself go outside and remember my cues of—I know that this is pleasant when it’s done. I know that I like this. I know this feels good to me, and have that be a decision. And the only reason I could do that is because I’ve built that habit, where I now don’t let I don’t let myself have the stay inside cue be what the answer is.

SC 27:03

Did you and did you enjoy it?

AB 27:10

Well, yes. Actually, what I ended up doing was watching my neighbor plow my driveway.

SC 27:29

So there you go. That’s a happy thing.

AB 27:33

Yes, it was, I had intended to shovel my driveway. And indeed, I had gotten started at that. But he showed up with his little snow plow. And I was not sorry. So that’s awesome. And I did it. It was not as blowy as I thought it would be, you know, on and on. And all of the things that I thought were true, of course, were not true. And I was warm and happy and you know, re-energized and glad I was there. And all the things I knew, while I said through my kitchen window, watching the snow blow, all of those things were in fact true.

SC 28:07

Yeah, I mean, I would encourage you, like you were talking about the evening habit, how it upsets you when you’re not in control of the choices that you’re making. And I think it’s interesting to think about that as power rather than thinking of it as control. Is that a distinction that makes sense?

AB 28:27

Yes, it is. Can you unpack it a little bit more for people who are listening who for whom it may not make sense?

SC 28:35

Yeah, so this idea of control is where so many of us get so frustrated, because we don’t like to be controlled even when those rules are our own. So if we can think about it in terms of power, then you are the one who has the opportunity to make a choice. And honestly, even though you know you’re the 20 minutes outside lady, like if you have a day, and you have the power, and you know that for you for your family, there’s an emergency, there’s a you know, who knows what’s happening, there’s a huge blizzard, or there’s something and for you for that day, you want to decide that you don’t want to go outside for 20 minutes, you have the power to do that, right. Now, you also know that most days, almost always, it’s gonna feel good, and it’s gonna be great. But it’s not something that you’re doing out of an obligation and out of a rule that you made. Right. So when it comes to your evening snacks, you know, that is something that like, if you know that you have the power every single day instead of I’m trying to control this, and I’m failing, and so I’m going to go ahead and fail and be the rebel right now. And then tomorrow I’m going to tackle this. This is a perfect conversation for New Years. Then you get into that guilt cycle. Okay, well, now I’ll do it, which means you’re probably going to eat more of it because you think tomorrow you’re going to be fried. Right? So if you can think of it more as like, I have the power to choose this. And I have the power to choose this every single day when that cue comes up. And if I want to choose, you know, even if you chose, like half of the kettle chips and half of the chocolate that you were already eating, I mean that’s a huge difference over time. Just like doing a single push up is a huge difference over time between someone who can do a single solid, really strong push up and someone who can’t when they are 80 years old, that is a vast difference between those two people.

AB 30:45

Oh, good advice. I’m looking back at specifically going outside, I’m wondering if this idea of, we’re going to go back to our fufu word mindfulness. I’m wondering if mindfulness makes what you get from going outside more impactful, because heading outside is like, I don’t know, I guess we could relate it to going to the gym a little bit. Like if you go to the gym, and you’re kind of just there, and you’re not really trying very hard and you’re not doing maybe you’re lifting weights, but you’re kind of loosey goosey about it, you’re not doing that you’re not paying attention to your form, or you’re on the treadmill, but you’re just sort of like moseying, right, you’re not going to get from that experience the same level of benefit as you would if you were into it. Okay, so with that sort of like the same thing, maybe I’m sort of reaching here, I guess. Is there a factor of mindfulness that makes what you get from going outside more impactful when you factor that in?

SC 31:54

I mean, mindfulness and being outside are kind of married. And in my mind, you know, it’s just human, we’re, you know, we are creatures that respond to sunlight and fresh air and vitamin D, you know. You can put on a podcast and go outside and walk. And I still feel like, even though you’ve got your brain on something else, there is a degree of benefit to that, no matter what, if you’re outside. So, you know, I’m not totally clear on how to relate them in the way you asked the question, but I do think that they are inevitably partnered and married, at least in my experience.

AB 32:47

Yeah. Which is to say, like, outside is great. If you’re listening to the birds, or noticing the trees, it’s probably more beneficial, right? Instead of being your client, who noted that she’s going to work less, worry less. If I’m outside, and all I’m thinking about is my inside problems, instead of taking this opportunity to just like, yeah, then maybe my outside benefits are not going to be what they could be.

SC 33:21

Yes. And when you’re outside, if you are riddled with all of those inside problems, then seeing that as a gift and as a form of an opportunity to practice mindfulness. So instead of—Shut up, there’s something wrong with me, why am I thinking all these thoughts? This is terrible, I should be able to listen to the birds. We can say—Ah, yeah, hmm. There’s those inside problems. And just see them just see them for what they are. That’s the first step. Yeah. Not to feel like there’s something like you’re broken, because you can’t shut your mind off. That in and of itself is mindful. That is successful mindfulness right there.

AB 34:08

Yeah. That sort of leads me to my next question, which is, I feel like people who’ve had a habit for a long time and and I would put myself in that category right now with going outside, has swung me in the opposite direction, which is a habit with a lack of mindfulness now it’s just rote, right? It’s just something to do. At some point does a habit turn that corner and become just a lack of mindfulness?

SC 34:47

I mean, it becomes autopilot, which is what a habit is. Good habit. Bad habit. Doesn’t matter habit. A habit is an autopilot that has been created by our brains to reduce the strain on our conscious mind. So we have those coping mechanisms that we talked about, we have healthy habits, you brush your teeth, you put on your seatbelt, you know you do whatever exercise you do, you have your healthy nighttime routines, whatever. So that’s a great, that’s actually a huge, like, that’s a huge win win, you gotta win, you’ve got a healthy habit that has become rote, then you don’t have to think about it anymore. You don’t have to battle with yourself even on a day like yesterday, when you had to be like—Oh, do I really want to make this decision? Yes, in fact, I do. And then I’m gonna do it. And then I felt great. Sure. So that’s a huge gift. That feeling you describe is really funny. I hear that too, from people who are losing weight, who have lost a certain level of weight, and then stayed at that weight, either because they plateaued or because they were happy there. And then after a certain period of time, that feeling of that new body starts to normalize. And then they start to feel restless. And they start to feel like it’s not good enough, which is what the brain does, but what that means is that they have achieved normalcy with the new healthy routine, habit, whatever. And that just means that they have an opportunity to decide, again, whether they feel like—that’s great, I don’t even have to think about this anymore. It just is what it is. It’s what I do. And I’m happy, and this is my great quality of life. Or, huh, I want to take this to the next level. And here’s how I want to do it. And here’s why. And here’s what the benefit I expect will be and then they can then they’re in a position again, where they can experiment and play around and see if there’s something they want to build on top of it. But what you’re describing, even though it feels kind of meh, is actually really something to celebrate.

AB 37:00

So what we’re saying is, for those who are listening who have successfully built this, join me in giving yourself a pat on the back. Good job. So we did it, high five, okay. But if you’re feeling restless, and maybe you no longer have the satisfaction from this that you thought you would or you once did, what Sarah’s saying is that your brain is cueing you now to be mindful of that. Speaking of, and this can be like I said that, that cue to either listen to yourself and make a change or up it or whatever. So that’s when we are bringing mindfulness and listening to ourselves back to this and maybe taking the opportunity to create a new version of this habit, or maybe not, but just start with listening.

SC 37:56

Yeah, maybe you’re changing something that you’re doing inside of that 20 minutes. Maybe it becomes more specific, or maybe it’s a longer time or maybe you know, who knows? There’s a million ways that you could build on. Maybe the outside habit has something to do with something you want to do afterwards inside.

AB 38:15

I kind of toy with the idea of tacking on you know, taking this restlessness cue, and then tacking on being more purposeful about leaving behind my electronics. Which is something we’ve talked about here on the podcast before and done miniature challenges around, but man is that hard to do all the time. I accidentally left my phone at home, for example, the other night and I had a friend take a picture of me so that I had a photo of my time, which is the thing I do on Instagram every day. Um, but I confess if I had been closer to home when I realized that it was missing, I might have turned around and gotten it. Instead, I didn’t because I was gonna be late and I didn’t want to do that. And yeah, not having that was pretty great. Didn’t have to think about it, didn’t have to worry about it, knew not to look at it.

SC 39:23

It’s so foreign now to be without any kind of connection or screen.

AB 39:28

Yeah. Yeah, it was. It was a very freeing accidental screen free time.

SC 39:35

So that right there is an experiment, like yeah, you actually sort of force fed yourself like, oh, that’s how, by accident.

AB 39:43

Yes. This is what happens also if you are out of chocolate at your house, so right? Yes, it’s an accidental, alright, well, I guess we’re going cold turkey on that today. Cool. Yeah, well, thank you for this advice on bringing on mindfulness and how it relates to habit and building a habit. You indicated this time of year is habit heavy, it just seems like the perfect time to start fresh, start something over and habits are top of mind for people. And as we do that, it’s just, it’s good to remember the nuts and bolts of that and how it can be a part of your life beyond January and February and even March and you know, just something that you do going forward. So thank you for that.

SC 40:30

Yeah, it’s an everyday choice. January 1st is just another day.

AB 40:36

Yeah. A cold day. So okay, you know, because you’ve been on the podcast before that we like to end by talking about our favorite and most essential outdoor gear you shared with us last time. Do you have an update? Is there anything new or different that you love?

SC 40:55

Well, so yeah, last time was my fanny pack, I think. Like, is that what I said? I think that’s what I said. I love to have my fanny pack with my phone. And my water bottle.

AB 41:09

Only the important things.

SC 41:12

I was thinking about my All Trails app that I love, because when I’m on book tour, or going giving workshops and things, I really love to have my All Trails app, because I can always find a trail somewhere where I am, where I can go do my walking, which is my way of being outside..

AB 41:37

And that’s a good recommendation too. It’s a great way, now that we’re traveling again, and whatnot, it’s a good way to have that connection with having a plan because when you’re out of your normal, everyday routine, one way to keep a habit going outside of that is to have a plan. So I find having a plan to be very important for when I’m traveling, because otherwise the outside time does not happen.

SC 42:11

You can find opportunities along the way and All Trails really comes in handy when you’re like—oh, look, I have two hours. What’s close by?

AB 42:25

When I go outside, when I’m traveling, for those who don’t know, I often have a longer layover because I’m going from Alaska, or I will book a ticket to have a longer layover. Because I know no matter what happens, I’ll get where I’m going late. And I spend part of that layover outside, in the drop off area of the airport. But you know, like that is really a function of having a plan because, as I said, I know that I have a layover, I know where I’m going, or I’ve booked it to have that layover and so on and so forth. And it is super easy to really just stay in the airport. Especially if you’re not familiar with the weather wherever it is you are laying over. And Seattle just never looks that inviting. So I’m always like—huh, how about we stay inside and have a snack?

Last but not least, if you wouldn’t mind walking us out with your favorite or one of your favorite outdoor moments. Just help us envision you in a time that you just like to remember. Where are you and what are you doing?

SC 43:44

You know, probably my favorite place is just on my best friend’s back porch in Los Angeles, or my own back porch right here. I have a fabulous screened in back porch, which is in the South. I’m in Nashville. And it’s very necessary in the summer, we have lots of mosquitoes. But it’s just, it’s just my absolute, both of those places are where I feel just wholly myself. Like I don’t have to put on any kind of front. I don’t have to be anything other than present. And so those are probably the easiest access places to be outside for me.

AB 44:28

Awesome. So thank you so much for sharing that. Thank you for your advice, and insight and thank you for being a guest on Humans Outside today.

SC 44:38

I appreciate you so much for having me. I appreciate your work too. Thanks.

AB 44:43

Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode of Humans Outside. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, give us a little love and leave a rating and review to make it easier for others to find the podcast too. What you say matters. It really truly does make a difference. And until next time, we’ll see you out there

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