Our environment can either help make or break our success when it comes to weight loss. Think about people you know, whether it be friends or family or even someone famous, that are physically fit and imagine what their environment is like. When I do this, I picture a bright, well-lit kitchen full of healthy foods that are easy to grab. I see easily accessible utensils that help weigh, measure and portion. I imagine the person in the kitchen creating a healthy, beautiful meal that is worthy of being called a masterpiece. The kitchen is more than a “room”. It is an area that radiates happiness and holds all good feelings, like the ones you feel when you are treating your body well and it responds in kind.
I picture an area of the house set aside for fitness activities. I close my eyes and I can see the person in that area, working out with great intensity, sweat dripping from every pore as they push themselves to the brink of exhaustion. I can almost feel the victory they would feel when they have satisfactorily completed a difficult workout. The air is filled with strength and determination that clings to me and makes me want to workout myself so I can have the feelings of pride, success and accomplishment.
What do you picture when you think of a winning environment? Close your eyes and really feel it. Taste it. Take it in and experience all of the emotions. Don’t just get a vague overview. Pay attention to details. When you get a complete picture, look around at your environment. What are the differences? Chances are good that there are some things you can do to your environment to move you closer to your weight loss and fitness goals. Here are some ideas to help you out:
- Keep nutritious food handy and ready-to-eat. Do you ever go to the grocery store and buy lots of fruits and veggies with the best of intentions, but end up throwing them away when they go bad because they were never eaten? If you take the time to prepare them right when you get home, you will be more likely to reach for them in the event that you get hungry. Wash and cut up the veggies. Slice and dice the fruit. And, keep these nutritious foods where they are easy to grab. Put them on the refrigerator shelf that is the first one you see when you open the door. Keep fresh fruit displayed in a basket on the counter. If it is easy to grab, it is more likely you will grab that over any not-so-good-for-you food.
- Keep your portion control utensils accessible. Chances are good that if you have to pull your food scale out of the cupboard every time you want to use it, you probably won’t. The more convenient you make it to actually use these items, the more likely you will. So, keep your utensils that help you measure and weigh food very accessible and you will be less tempted to eyeball portions. Remember, if you are thinking that “a little bit more won’t matter”, you are only lying to yourself. A little bit more multiplied by several times a day adds up over time. For instance, if you have just 100 calories more per day than what you need, it adds up to more than a 10 pound weight gain over a year!
- Keep food you want to eat less of out of sight. Have you noticed that you can be not hungry at all but suddenly crave chips or cookies once you see them? Stop those cravings before they begin by keeping these less-than-nutritious foods out of sight. You may choose to designate a particular cupboard or drawer for those foods. Of course, it is best if you can keep them out of the house altogether, but unless you want an uprising from the children and/or your spouse, this may be the next best option.
- Make healthy meals ahead of time. Time is a commodity. Between home obligations, work schedules and running children here and there, there is limited time and energy to make a nutritious meal at the end of the day. Designate an open time slot for the week toward making healthy meals that can be placed in the fridge or freezer for easy access on those hectic days. I know it’s hard to pull time out of nowhere, but your health and the health of your family are worth it.
- Don’t use exercise equipment for anything other than exercise. If you use your treadmill as a clothes hanger, I am talking to you. If you have to dig out your exercise equipment to use it, you likely will not. Keep your equipment accessible and ready to go. It is the same concept as keeping your food scale on the counter. If you make it easy to make good choices, you probably will.
- Make your exercise room fun to be in. Keep your headphones or radio there so you can jam to your tunes. Or, set a television in front of you so you can watch the morning news. Put some motivational pictures up on the wall. Put some up on the ceiling so you can see them when you’re doing your crunches or other floor-type exercises. The more you like the exercise environment, the more time you will spend there. Who knows? You may actually end up wanting to be there!
These are just some ideas to help get you started in the right direction. Of course, there are many things you can do to your surroundings to set up a winning environment so don’t feel stuck with just the ones I’ve mentioned. The key is to look for things that you can do that allow making good decisions effortless and painless. After all, the road to losing weight is hard enough to maneuver. Why allow weeds and brush to grow making it more difficult? Pave your path to success. Make the journey enjoyable!