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Today I listened to a podcast by Jillian Michaels while I was running called "Changing Behavior Can Change You" (you can download it for free on Itunes). I haven't gotten through the whole thing yet, but I wanted to share some ideas that she talked about in the session that I found to be very interesting.
The first part of the podcast, she talked about changing your environment in ways that will help you move towards achieving the goals that you have set for yourself, whatever those may be. Basically, the idea is that if you go to work and walk by the vending machine every day, and you are tempted each time to buy something from it, than the best thing you can do in order to accomplish your goals or make steps towards changing your life is to change your environment in a way that you will not have to walk by the vending machine. She suggested buying a mini-fridge to put under your desk so that you never have to go into the company kitchen (leftover bagels, coffee cake, oh my!) and you are not tempted. Although I don't think this would be very feasible for many people, I think the idea of avoiding situations where you would be tempted to make a choice that would go against your goals is an interesting one.
She also made a comparison that I find spot on. She said that your self control is like a muscle - the more times you use it, the more it will be fatigued. By changing your environment and your surroundings so that you are not in a position to be tempted, you are avoiding having to even use your self control muscle, thus eliminating the possibility that you will exhaust it and then give in. I think this is a great thing to keep in mind if you are trying to lose weight - or even if you aren't trying to lose weight but you are just trying to live a healthier lifestyle and make better, healthier choices. You can't be tempted by things that aren't there - if you are a night snacker and you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to eat cookies, eliminate the cookies! Perhaps you would still snack on something else, but if you eliminate everything in the house that is bad for you, you would probably make better choices because the temptation would not be there.
I find that often times the temptation is there for things that I don't even really want. When you go to a Mexican restaurant and they put that basket of chips down in front of you, how much harder is it to resist them? Do you really want chips, or are you just tempted now that they are sitting in front of you? I don't know that I would ever necessarily think about eating chips if they weren't put down in front of me. By removing that visual temptation and thus changing my environment, it would make it much easier for me to not eat 1000 calories of chips before my meal even started!
The place where I am going to try and practice this most (given that I spend the majority of my time here) is my house. I find that when I have snacks available, I crave snacks more. If there isn't anything to snack on, the temptation goes away. Now I am not one to really promote depriving yourself - if you have been wanting ice cream for a week and you just can't stop thinking about that delicious bowl of ice cream, then GO and get some! But, incorporating the idea of removing temptation would tell you to go out to Marble Slab (or the like) and get a small bowl of ice cream and be done with it. Don't go to the grocery store and buy a gallon of ice cream, because then the temptation is just going to continue to be there.
Have you made in changes in your life or your environment that have helped you to avoid temptation? Do you have any suggestions for others on how to combat the constant temptations that we face in life? I would love to hear all comments and suggestions!