Feel like you failed your diet(again)? Change your environment instead of yourself to make it easy
One thing that is often overlooked in coaching, or even when helping your best friend with a problem, is if you are coaching the individual, you are only coaching half the story. A global approach to wellness means that health is emotional, mental, and physical. A global approach to making it happen is looking at an entire environment of success.
The scenario usually starts with a goal of sorts, for example, to lose weight or reduce stress. This goal starts within one’s thoughts. There are a number of steps to create a good foundation for success. But, upon evaluating oneself, the immediate next step is evaluating the total environment. If the environment stays the same, it will fundamentally resist the stated goal and make it harder
So, for example, trying to lose weight when you and all your buddies hang out at McDonald’s every afternoon, or trying to reduce stress at the workplace when every element is exactly the same day after day is like swimming upstream. One tends to feel defeated before even starting the project ahead!
Tips to Getting Your Environment to Work for You, not Against You
- Take Some Notes. Before impulsively starting a diet or other health goal, look around you and your environment. Extra cookies that colleagues bring to work, starting the day already really tired from the day before, tolerating a number of unpleasant people every day, a messy closet and kitchen, skipping breakfast - these are obstacles that might need to be cleared first.
- Look at who and what can support you. Do you have a stationary bike in the house that you haven’t used in a while, or a friend who also wants to lose weight, or an ipod where your feel-good music selection can be updated?
- Get clear about your specific obstacles. Obstacles can be unsupportive family members, lack of time management skills, a lot of traveling, a bad knee that makes exercise difficult, etc.
- Decide what you have control over and what not. To avoid a feeling of overwhelm, look at what you can and cannot control. Getting to bed a half an hour earlier might be easier than trying to ask your boss if you can get off work a half an hour earlier!
- Break down the bigger obstacles. Your partner might not want to join you in eating salad for dinner every night or your friends might all still enjoy their afternoons at McDonald’s. Getting them used to the smaller changes you are making is a better strategy than a lot of changes that will fail in a short time. Skipping the extra bread at dinner, or going to a fast food restaurant with your friends just two times a week instead of five times a week - these smaller changes pave the path for incremental improvements that make all the difference over time.
- Make a plan. Take 3-4 of your most important goals and see where you can harmonize them with your environment. It takes some creativity but that should be the fun part! Even the simple act of buying an attractive re-usable water bottle to fill each day to ensure you are drinking enough is like looking at a little piece of victory in your hand each day.
With practice, your goals will not be goals any more but habits and with an environment that supports them for the long term. We are very much a product of our overall environment and for real change to happen, we need harmony, not struggle. For daily tips and ideas, ‘like’ us on facebook, where our page has been updated to serve you better.