It happens all the time. You know what you are supposed to be doing for your health, at least in general, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, working out, but you choose not to do it. Maybe you make positive choices for your health sometimes, but there are lots of times when you consciously do not.
Here are two situations where you may be choosing to make a bad health decision.
1. Mary has been experimenting with different breakfasts for the past two weeks as an element to increase her productivity. She has learned that opting for fruit, yogurt, and honey gives her an energy boost that lasts through her morning meetings and makes her feel more focused. Yesterday morning her spouse made a bagel and egg sandwich, so Mary had one also since all the ingredients were already out. By the time she got to work, she felt lethargic, bloated, and mentally fuzzy.
2. Donna recently incorporated HIIT workouts into her fitness routine to help reach her next 10 pound weight loss goal. She consistently fits in her workout 4 days a week after the kids go to sleep. Earlier this week, Donna opted to skip two of her workouts in favor of a second helping of dessert. She knows the increase in calories and the lack of fitness will not help her lose those 10 pounds, and the second helping left her feeling overly full and guilty.
So often with my clients, our to dinner with friends, or at get togethers, I hear the phrase, “I shouldn’t have this, but…” and then the speaker explains what they are about to eat. Essentially, they are consciously making a negative health choice.
What is a conscious choice? A choice that you know is not in your best interest, but you do it anyway. You know what the outcome will be if you make the choice, but again, you do it anyway.
What should you do when you are faced with making a consciously negative health choice? Here are 5 action items that will help you opt for the more positive health choices for your body:
1. Keep your eye on the bigger goal. Is the “I’ll eat it just because it’s here, it tastes good, it’s what everyone else is doing” mentality going to serve you in the long run as you try to lose the weight, increase your strength, improve your skin, or restore your energy?
Spend your mental energy remembering your goals and why those are so important to you. Once you have evaluated that, then re-look at the choice you want to make from that lens.
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2. Evaluate what led to this decision. There is a reason for every action, you just need to determine what led to you making that consciously negative choice (and feeling lazy is never the right answer when life-changing goals are on the line).
With Donna’s increase in workout intensity, she may not be fueling her body sufficiently through the day to accommodate the increased calorie burn. Adding an extra fruit or vegetable snack to her day can help combat that need for her to have a second dessert at the end of the day.
Mary did not want to take other ingredients out of the fridge, so she just settled for what was there. Perhaps she can enlist her husband to cut some fruit for her while his eggs cook as a way to help her out.
3. Reward a series of positive choices (but not with food). Set a timeline for yourself (a short one in the beginning) of 3-5 days. If you are able to make healthy decisions for your body and your goals consistently within that time frame, reward yourself with a non-food item. For instance, a long shower, a new workout shirt, time to watch that guilty pleasure TV show, etc.
4. Determine an easy alternative. What can you do instead of the negative choice you are about to make that is just as easy? Donna could have opted for a short workout of 10-15 minutes to get her body moving. Mary could have opted for grabbing a quick piece of fruit to take with her out the door.
5. Prepare what you can ahead. If you have your meals planned, ingredients prepped, and workouts scheduled ahead of time, you are much more likely to make healthier choices and stick to your fitness plans. Do what you can ahead of time even if it is only one day at a time.
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Mary could have prepared her breakfast the night before while Donna could have scheduled her workout, finished it, and then decide if she still wanted more dessert.
What negative choices have you consciously made for your health lately? How do you avoid making those choices for your body?