Don’t rely on healthy decisions
Imagine that every morning, you had to decide whether or not to get out of bed, and whether or not to go to work. Wouldn’t you spend an hour under the covers bargaining with yourself, and more often than not, go back to sleep? Imagine that every day you had to weigh the pros and cons of dental hygiene. Would you brush your teeth as often as you currently do? Probably not! Most of what we do in our daily lives is actually defined by rules that were established for us or that we have established for ourselves. But what about healthy decisions?
You CAN’T make healthy decisions all the time!
The problem for most of us when we commit to eating healthier or being more active, is that we have fantastic goals, and a pretty good idea of how to reach them. Yet when it comes to putting everything into practice, we make the huge mistake of relying on good decision making and self-control. We can make good decisions quite often, but not all the time, and even if we could, it would be draining. We have self-control most of the time, but not all the time, and again, it’s exhausting.
If you want to stick to your new year’s resolutions in 2018, you have to make your new behaviors what I would call “no-brainers”. You have to remove the decision making from your daily life, so that you can free up your brain and not get consumed by your new lifestyle. You have probably experienced this: when you go on a diet, all you think about all day long is food! This is tolerable for a week or two, but who can handle it for much longer?
Set your health into “auto-pilot”
How can you do things differently? It’s easy! You have to set up rules for yourself and for the new behaviors that you are trying to adopt. There is a “rule” that tells you to go to work 5 days a week, that’s how it is, you don’t have to think about it. You might complain sometimes and it does not mean that it’s easy every single day, but it’s a no-brainer, you HAVE to go to work.
Do the same with your new lifestyle. Take 30 minutes tonight and establish a few rules for weeks to come. Not too many rules, not too harsh, and not too complicated to remember. Make sure those rules make sense TO YOU. They don’t have to make sense to anyone else! Write them down and if you need sticky notes all over your house/car/desk, go ahead. The idea is to make a decision now, so that your brain does not get a chance to negotiate later on.
Rules that work for me
Over the years, I have implemented many rules for myself, because I find the internal debate exhausting, and I know for a fact that at least 50% of the time, I’ll end up making the decision that’s the easiest, rather than the best for me. Some of my rules are:
– No taking the elevator unless I go higher than 15 floors or can’t find the stairs.
– No driving if the distance is under 1.5 mile.
– No store-bought sweets unless they have been made by an independent baker (exception made for the Starbucks Lemon Pound cake, don’t ask me why!).
– No latte unless I am getting coffee with a friend.
As you can see, those rules have nothing to do with USDA recommendations. They are completely random but they help ME reach my wellness goals, year after year. They are easy to remember, easy for me to follow. They don’t require much self-control or will-power anymore. The key is: it’s my rule, I follow it.
Get to work NOW, relax later
Find your own rules. Start with 1 or 2 and make sure they are not too hard to follow. They will evolve with time and you can get tougher when you are ready. Remember, we talk about this in last week’s article: don’t deprive yourself!
Let me know if you need suggestions or if you want some help on how to define the best rules. To make it even easier for yourself, find rules that you can have in common with someone else. Share this article with your friends and see if you can set up something with a buddy. Being accountable makes the room for compromise even tinier.
You can do this. Trust yourself. 2018 will be the year you stick with your healthy resolutions
It will be easier if you do it with a buddy! Share this article and get a friend on board!
PLEASE REMEMBER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND I DON’T KNOW YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS INFORMATION CANNOT BE USED AS A SUBSTITUTE TO MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS OR TREATMENT.
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