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How to Change Your Life (Even if It’s Already Pretty Great)

Exercise physiologist Marco Borges makes hard turns very, very easy

Collage of muscular man's body with happy face over his face rising from pile of money
Paul Spella/Getty Images

Imagine this scenario: You meet with a young married couple, and your task is to get them to change their daily habits and, by extension, their entire lives. 

Now imagine these two people are named Jay-Z and Beyoncé. 

These may not seem like lives that need changing. But Marco Borges, 49, a Miami-based exercise physiologist, did just that, helping to coach the world’s ultimate power couple to adopt a primarily plant-based lifestyle. 

His life-altering secret: the power of habits. 

“We are all just a large collection of habits,” he says. “If you realize that you are what you do repeatedly, then you have the power to change.”

Since not all of us have daily habits that are pointing toward Carter-family levels of success, we asked Borges how we could start the new year with some productive changes. 

“Starting a new habit is like looking at a field of very tall grass,” he says. “The first time you walk through that grass it’s a little bit difficult; you have to push the brush aside. And then the second time you could almost see where you walked through the day before.

“By the 20th time you’ve got a nice path there, and you know exactly what you need to do.” 

STEP #1: Identify your goal. Write it down even, because you can’t reorient your path unless you know where you want to go. 

But focus on the long term: “The person who wants to lose 50 pounds in a month is putting themselves in a situation where it’s going to be very difficult for them to be happy with the outcome,” he says.  

Keep the goal specific and ambitious, but focus it out to, say, the end of the year. 

STEP #2: Identify the habits that are hurting that goal. Notice what you do throughout your day that’s leading you in the opposite direction, Borges advises. 

“Your goals have to align with your actions always, in every aspect of life. If you go to the refrigerator every day at 11 a.m. to get something sweet, you’re burning that path into your brain. So as you go through your day, look at every individual habit you follow and ask, ‘Is this action aligned with my goals?’ ” 

It’s not enough just to give up the habit. “If you’re eating a Snickers every afternoon, you have to get to the root cause,” Borges says. “Sometimes it means you’re stressed. Sometimes it means you’re not eating enough throughout the day.” 

STEP #3: If you see a healthy and edible plant, eat it. “Let's figure out a way to get more quality nutrition for breakfast and lunch by adding more fiber. I typically prescribe a plant-based diet, not necessarily vegan, but trying to be aggressive in eating plants. This will give you more control over your health, your weight, your diet and your brain function.” 

STEP #4: Give it three weeks. Borges asks his clients to follow a habit every day for 21 days, to prove to themselves that their new habit can work with their lifestyle. “Tell yourself, ‘I’m not gonna say forever, but for three weeks I’m really going to go all in.’ I've seen people who, over the course of those days, lose 25 pounds and never look back.”