Like most Americans, I try to lead a healthy life. With seemingly limitless access to information, “I didn’t know better” is no longer a valid excuse for unhealthy habits. In reality, however, information alone is really not enough to overcome the “I’ll start next Monday” mantra. Life always seems to get in the way, and quite frankly, it’s nearly impossible not to have an excuse to postpone our “should” (especially during the holiday season).
While these excuses may sufficiently justify our actions to ourselves or others, they serve no further purpose than just that. In terms of making good decisions, they are truly counterproductive- they reinforce the negative behavior. For me, it took actively restructuring my thoughts to start to form any sort of good habits. I did this in a few different ways.
1) Replace your mindset from focusing on reasons you can’t do something to figuring out how you can make it happen.
This is, obviously, much easier said than done, mainly because we typically come up with excuses because we don’t want to do something. Brainstorming ways to do something you already don’t want to do is certainly not the default way of thinking for someone who enjoys self-indulgence. The good news is that this gets easier once you realize and remind yourself how great exercising and eating healthy makes you feel.
2) Constantly remind yourself that “something is better than nothing.”
Even though ten minutes on the treadmill may seem insignificant, it is infinitely better than not doing any exercise. Plus, not only is some exercise better than no exercise, some exercise helps you start to form better habits which lead to more exercise! Check out these itty bitty fitness tricks to get yourself started.
3) Tell yourself not to have an “all or nothing” attitude when it comes to food.
It makes no sense that because I had leftover birthday cake for breakfast, I should binge on all the junk food I see for the rest of the day because “I already messed up today” and “I will start eating right tomorrow.” This reinforces unhealthy habits and makes starting to “eat right tomorrow” far more difficult.
So, when I follow my own advice at a time when I am tempted to engage in an unhealthy habit, I remind myself that if I don’t indulge, this time, it will be easier to do the same next time. This was quite a change from my previously fallacious argument that “it is okay to indulge myself now because I won’t indulge myself ever again after this.” By believing that, I was making it much harder to resist any unhealthy behavior in the future.
4) Avoid feeling guilt.
Feeling guilt is a form of self-sabotage because it forces you to focus on the negative rather than the positive. Rather than telling myself that I’m doing a terrible job, I try to think about why I made that choice and what I can do to not repeat that choice.
So this year, drop the “all or nothing” attitude, lose the guilt, and be mindful of your actions. When you focus on making good decisions in the now rather than what decisions you previously made or what decisions you will make in the future, you just might find that you are making quite a few good decisions.
Camille Subrt, a Simply Camden guest blogger, is a Leasing Consultant at Camden Plaza in Houston, TX.