As a nutrition coach, one of the first questions I’ll ask people is: “what did you eat yesterday?” Eighty percent of folks really struggle to recall everything.

They can sit there and draw nothing but blanks for minutes … until it finally starts to come to them. Can you guess how they eventually remember?

Association. The key to remembering what they ate want to remember:

group gathered around table eating

1) Where they were

2) Who they were with

3) What they were doing

Only after considering one of all of the above do they recall what they consumed.

There is a big lesson here. We remember what we eat by association … because we often simply eat by association.

So we can talk about this food being healthy and that food being unhealthy, and it’s good to know, but often times we know enough to make drastic improvements in our nutrition and hence quality of life, but we just don’t do it. Why?

I believe it’s because we fail to spend enough time becoming very aware of the circumstances, people, events, situations, and many times feelings … that are associated with our dietary choices.

Furthermore, how are we going to deliberately change unhealthy routines if we don’t recognize exactly when the routine is cue’d?

The short answer is – we aren’t. It’s just not going to happen – which is why awareness is SO important to the process of change.

Try this exercise for a few weeks and see what you learn about yourself: Start a new note on your smartphone and call it “Becoming Aware.” Every time you find yourself in an obviously unhealthy nutrition routine, label it as such and write down:

1) where you are

2) who you are with

3) what you are doing

4) how you are feeling

In the same manner, every time you find yourself in an obviously healthy routine, write down the same.

In just a few weeks, you will start to gain much clarity on your associated triggers.

When you figure out the where, who, what, and how … you can quite literally put yourself in the best possible positions to succeed.

But even more importantly, you can begin solve the game-changing question of whywhich can eventually help you win wherever you are, whoever you are with, whatever you are doing, and however you may be feeling.