The first few months of the year are now over and hopefully you have had your fil of the latest cleanse, diet plan, detox or exercise regimen. It is time to get down to the serious work of designing a lifestyle that is do-able, enjoyable and sustainable.
The key to success is to intentionally design your environment to make it easy to do the right thing and create health. The world is a hostile health environment filled with Big Gulps and Big Macs on every corner so you need to take a few moments and create our own personal health bubble.
Where is your environment set up to help you stay on track and where does it trip you up? What can you do to make your actions around food, exercise and stress reduction a little more automatic? With some simple strategies you can design your life for automatic success.
1. Organize your kitchen for healthy meal preparation.
· Clean out your drawers and cabinets so they are free of clutter.
· Make sure you have or buy all the cooking utensils you need to succeed.
· Arrange your pots and pans for easier access.
· Get smaller plates.
· Refresh your supply of spices, condiments, oils, vinegars, and sauces so you can cook anything, at any time, without having to run out to the supermarket.
· Find new recipes online or in cookbooks and put them in an easy-to-access place so they are ready when you need them.
· Stock your kitchen with the right stuff. Arrange the foods so that the healthiest ones are the most accessible and appealing.
· Cut up veggies and fruit and have them in little glass containers stacked for easy access.
· Stock healthy snacks (such as nuts, seeds, or grass-fed or organic turkey, beef, or buffalo jerky) so that they are easy to grab on the go when you know time is short.
2. Plan your food in advance.
· Think ahead! The goal is to prevent yourself from ending up in a food emergency there only choices available to you are a fast-food restaurant or a convenience store.
· When do you typically get into that type of situation? Is it at 5 p.m. when you come home from work and are too tired to make dinner? When you are short on time in between all your daily commitments and on the run? You can also assemble what I call an emergency food pack that you can carry with you to ensure you are never stuck without at least a few healthy options.
3. Make grocery shopping a weekly ritual.
· This goes hand in hand with planning your meals ahead of time. Keep a shopping list at the ready so you can add to it as the week goes along.
· Choose a specific day and time when you will commit to grocery shop each week so it becomes an ingrained ritual.
4. Plant healthy snacks in your environment.
· Put raw nuts or other healthy snacks in your glove compartment, desk drawer, purse, or backpack so they are within easy reach and allow you to safely bypass the vending machine or drive-through when you are hungry or a craving hits.
5. Steer clear of your danger zones.
· If the drive-through you pass each morning on your way to work calls out to you like a siren song, start taking an alternate daily route. If the aroma from the bakery you walk past on your way to work is irresistible to you, walk down a different block.
· Put yourself—literally—on a path to health rather than temptation.
6. Protect your health bubble in social situations.
· When and with whom do you find yourself feeling pressured or tempted to eat or drink things that work against your health goals? Does this happen at work when they bring in platters of food and soda for lunch? Or when you are out with friends? At holidays with family?
· Eat something before or bring your own food. I always carry nut butter packets in my pocket!
7. Make exercise easy.
· Identify the obstacles that get in the way of your daily exercise. Is it having the clothing you need, clean and easy to access? When the weather is bad? Make a backup plan for your daily walk if the weather is an issue. Try using the treadmill at a gym or experiment with a workout DVD.
· Think about systems you can put into place to trigger you to do the right thing. Try doing something you like less around something you like more (lift some weights before having a sauna for example.
8. Make your bedroom a sanctuary.
· Compared to your kitchen, you might not think of your bedroom as an influential area for your health and wellness efforts, but it is. Is your bedroom designed to be a peaceful, stress-free environment that promotes rest? What prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep? Look around your bedroom and identify a few things you can do to make it a place of rejuvenation. Options might include clearing away clutter, getting blackout shades, getting earplugs or an eye mask, or committing to reading instead of watching television before bedtime (or getting rid of the teevision in the bedroom altogether)
9. Keep your supplies for self-nurturing practices at the ready.
· How are you able to integrate relaxation practices into your life?
· Ideas might include keeping your bathroom cabinet stocked with extra Epsom salts, baking soda, and lavender oil, so you always have what you need to a relaxing bath.
· Set a timer to remind you to do deep breathing or meditation.
Think about what gives you peace and triggers your relaxation response, then set up your defaults so you can do those practices often.