Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
If you’ve been relying on willpower to make changes, you’re counting on a mental resource that’s bound to run out. Willpower comes in finite quantities. When you force yourself to do one healthy act, you may then have trouble mustering the energy to do something else you know is good for you. That’s because your store of self-discipline has dwindled.
O.K. Before you let what I just told you demoralize you, let’s talk about what’s STRONGER than willpower! Increasingly researchers believe that changing your physical and/or social environments in specific ways leads to making good choices, thereby boosting your health and lifespan.
Of course these supportive environmental changes must be made before temptation arises. For instance, how you organize your kitchen, shop for groceries, decorate your office, and cultivate new friendships all make a difference.
Let’s look at some specific ideas.
Rearranging Your Kitchen.
1. Keep the “bad” foods out of sight and highlight the “good” ones. The only food you should see when you walk into your kitchen is fruit. If you came into my kitchen today, you’d see a big bowl of kiwi and starfruit, another bowl of tomatoes, and another big bowl of bananas/avocado/apples/pears/sweet potatoes.
2. Think about how you shelve items. You are three times as likely to eat the first food you see as you are to eat the fifth food you see. Pay attention to your fridge organization, too. Maybe if you need to eat more veggies, keeping them hidden in the crisper bin isn’t such a good idea.
3. I don’t eat toast. It’s just not my thing. But if you eat toast and you keep your toaster on the counter it might interest you to know that research shows people who keep their toasters on the counter weigh an average of seven more pounds than those who keep their toasters hidden and take it out only to make toast. Makes sense to me! Your toaster just calls out to you when you see it in plain sight.
4. I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Eat your meals on smaller plates. You’ll always want your plate to be full of food, so it stands to reason that a smaller plate naturally means smaller portions.
5. For a relaxing kitchen environment, use calming colors such as sage green or yellow. If your cupboards are chaotic, avoid glass doors. Stress leads to poor eating habits and seeing chaos, no matter which room in the house, is stressful.
Become A Smart Shopper.
1. Grab your shopping cart and divide it in half. Determine to use one half for fruits and veggies! And of course, don’t shop while you’re hungry. Since we’ve all made this mistake, I don’t have to tell you how this influences your choices.
Savor Your Meals
1. Make sure your table is for eating only! Clear all clutter, mail, papers, and whatever else is on your table that doesn’t pertain to meal time. And practice attentive eating, which means no TV or reading while you eat. Playing soft music or dimming the lights is a nice mealtime ritual. No standing while eating! Sit and enjoy your meals, even if you eat by yourself.
2. Stretch out your mealtimes. This happens naturally when you eat with other people because you engage in conversation. The idea is to nibble on your food rather than inhaling it. I hope you guys reading this are listening because for some reason, when it comes to men and mealtime, they seem to eat so darn fast. As least the men I know do!
Make Your Workplace Healthier
1. Find a different way to commute. Any OTHER mode of transportation, whether it be walking, biking, or commuting by bus or train, will have you walking more than the average car commuter. If you must commute by car, park as far away as possible and walk to your workplace.
2. Set up different workstations for yourself. Varying your positions throughout your day calls on different muscle groups and lessens the harmful effects of sitting too much.
3. Add some greenery to your workplace. Indoor plants have been shown to lower blood pressure. Personal photos do, too.
4. Hang up pictures of fruit. Neat idea, huh? Reminders of healthy foods actually inspire you to make better choices.
Rethink Your Social Environment
1. Create a healthier network of people. Always think about adding more positive influences to your circle of friends. I’m a big believer in having different friends for different things. One friend might be a walking friend and another a shopping together or sharing recipes friend. Our friends’ behaviors have a huge influence on us.
2. Meet your neighbors. This kind of social support has been shown to lower stress and produce a feel-good effect. Friends often live within walking distance and become exercise buddies.
Enjoy The Outdoors
1. Become a gardener. Growing your own produce not only gets you plenty of fresh air, but plenty of exercise, too.
2. Take your vacation in a place that provides plenty of options for staying active. You all know I love to take my vacations in places I can walk……..a lot! I just returned from Cape Town, South Africa and that’s a great city for walking!
I hope I’ve given you plenty of ideas for making changes in both your physical and social environments so that maintaining a healthy lifestyle will require less willpower. Let me know what you think and how helpful these ideas are for you.
Until next month, find Joyinmovement every day!