change your environment, change your life
"Just as a recovering alcoholic has to remove himself from the bar to find freedom, you may need to remove yourself from certain environments that don't benefit you as well."
In order to change your behavior, you need to assess your environment. Most of the habits we have developed over the years are automated:
go to work.
You did not have to conjure up motivation to brush your teeth, you did so because your toothbrush stared you in the face in the morning. You did so because it was the convenient, even the mindless thing to do. And that is the point of this whole post: how can we change your environment to make the healthy choice the CONVENIENT choice?
Why do you do the things you do? Are the decisions you make daily based on what you want to do or on the cues of your surroundings?
Imagine this: you have decided to start a diet. You have imagined in your head what you will eat this next week, you have motivation out of the wazoo, and you decided you will exercise. Yet the next morning you wake up and Poptarts wink at you through pantry door, you stop by Starbucks and your favorite barista convinces you to get your usual Frappuccino, and you decide that the workout class is way too far out of the way to make it on time so you end up going home after work.
While you may have decided in your mind to do something, every other portion of your life spoke another message, and your environment spoke louder than your willpower. Instead, you could have started by removing those tempting foods from your pantry, filling your home with vibrant, healthy foods that are visually on display, taking another route to work to keep you from craving Starbucks, and choosing a source of exercise that fits into your life and your timeline more easily. Changing your environment to align with your priorities negates the need for constant willpower. When you have a support system around you of like minded people, a home filled with real, whole foods, and a mindset that prioritizes health for the love of your self rather than the manipulation of your body, amazing things can happen.
Just as a recovering alcoholic has to remove himself from the bar to find freedom, you may need to remove yourself from certain environments that don't benefit you as well.
your environment always wins
but you can control your environment.
If I, a health enthusiast, walked in your shoes for a week, would it be easy for me to maintain a healthy lifestyle? It is not enough to DO SOMETHING, you have to BECOME SOMEONE. Become someone who's surrounding intentionally align with your priorities. An olympic swimmer doesn't have to convince themself to train, because at their core, they believe themself to be someone who trains often and well.
What do you believe about yourself?
What kind of person does your environment say that you are?
This post was encouraged by all of the great psychology podcasts, behavioral health classes, and Atomic Habits by James Clear, the most helpful habit forming book I've read. Go read it: