Sometimes people don't realize how hard it can be to make a permanent change. They struggle with overcoming a bad habit or with creating a new, more beneficial one and they get frustrated. They question everything from what they eat, to what exercises to do and in what order. They even look for the miracle pill that doctor so-and-so was talking about on the teletube. But seldom do they look at their environment.
Your surrounding can play just as much a role on your daily habits as anything you put on your plate or the time you spend in the gym. I know you're thinking, "there's no way... what, my couch told me to eat the cheesecake?" But hear me out.
Let's take this to an extreme. Let's say you have two people. One lives in the produce section of your local grocery store (this is just pretend, it's OK, there's not really any creepy guy sleeping by the asparagus) while the other lives in the bulk candy section of Candy Land, everyone's favorite mega candy bulk goods store (again, just pretend, Candy Land doesn't exist... I know, I'm sorry).
Now that we've got this hyperbolic example set up, let's imagine what each person would eat. I think it's safe to assume the produce guy probably snacks on the fruits and veggies that are right there for his convenience. Meanwhile, Mr. Candy creeper is consuming candy corn and caramel all the live long day.
While yes, this example is a bit out there, you get the idea. You will eat what you have around you, whether it's healthy food or the not-so healthy variety. But wait, there's more.
Did you know that people who enter their house through the kitchen (for example, through the garage) are much more likely to stop and grab a snack sooner than those who enter the living room? It could be because they subconsciously have food on the brain much sooner, simply due to what they see and smell right after getting home.
Or maybe you have a bowl or two of candy or similar treats laying around "for guests"...wink wink, nudge nudge. But in reality, who ends up eating most of it? In the worst case, let's assume you have the willpower to let the candy sit there, for days, weeks or months. Hey! Welcome! Have some eight-month-old M&Ms! Mmmmm.
As you go about your day, try to stay present in the moment and realize how your environment may actually be shaping your choices. Do you have a routine of sitting on the couch and turning on the tv, which leads to mindlessly noshing on snacks until dinner? Do you have bright, colorful veggies in plain view on the counter or in the fridge, encouraging you to eat them before they go bad?
Making small changes to your surroundings can have a huge impact and provide great benefits in your health and fitness goals. The simple process of being aware and trying to avoid going on autopilot (we talked about that last week) can really make the process easier for you. Pay attention to your environment so you can shape it to your lifestyle... not the other way around.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently train clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.