How External Forces Influence Your Choices

Cutting up vegetables. Image: Pexels - cottonbro

If you don’t think that environment has much of an impact on your choices, try grocery shopping on an empty stomach!

Environment has a huge impact on our moods and choices. My favorite habits author James Clear says: “Most people live in a world others have created for them. But you can alter the spaces where you live and work to increase your exposure to positive cues and reduce your exposure to negative ones. Environmental design allows you to take back control and become the architect of your life. Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.”

People are most successful at achieving their wellness goals when they focus on setting up their environment intentionally. We need to structure our environments so that what we want to do becomes the easiest, most obvious choice. In other words, “design” it for wellness. There are no right or wrong ways to do this because our environments are so individually unique.

Physical Environments

Here are some examples of how you might design your physical environment:

If your goal is to eat more veggies, you need to have them ready to eat (i.e. already washed/peeled/cut) and at eye level in your fridge. Sometimes, the biggest barrier to eating more veggies is that they require more “prep” work. Buy pre-cut veggies, or select a time each week for a mini-prep session.

If your goal is to eat less processed food, don’t have it in the house if you can help it. If you’re like me and have children and a husband, store the food in a place that isn’t as convenient as the pantry in your kitchen. And definitely don’t leave it out on the countertop.

If your goal is to eat less bread, cookies, and sweets, take a different route to work where you don’t have to drive by that tempting bakery every day.

Social Environments

While many of us would like to believe that we are independent thinkers, we are heavily influenced by those around us. Because we aren’t able to choose all the people we interact with on a daily basis, this can be a more complicated environment to try to influence. It’s natural that in social situations, we usually want to fit in, and doing so; it can be a stumbling block to good habits.

Friends eating at a restaurant together

If you happen to interact in social environments that are primarily unhealthy (work or otherwise) I would recommend seeking out communities and other groups who are healthier, who value a healthier lifestyle, and who can regularly practice the healthier behaviors and the outcomes we desire. Healthy habits are infectious.

Did you know that in addition to the types of food you eat, people around you also influence the amounts we eat? Traci Mann, Ph.D. wrote a very interesting book titled “Secrets from the Eating Lab” and has conducted numerous studies on topics like this. She dedicated an entire chapter to how people influence each other’s food choices even when we aren’t with them.

Our social environment also includes the content we absorb on a daily basis from social media, TV, and podcasts. You can start to improve your relationship with food and your body by simply unfollowing accounts that don’t make you feel good about yourself, and starting to follow accounts that are more aligned with your values and goals.

Molly Galbraith notes in her book “Girls Gone Strong”, that “as humans, we like to think that we consciously control most of our choices. But the truth is that a large percentage of our thoughts and actions are a response to our environment.” I couldn’t agree more.

Pay close attention to the ways that you can positively influence your environment so that the things you want to do become easier and the most obvious.

You do not have to “do healthy” on your own. In fact, research tells us that you are much more likely to succeed if you have accountability layered in.

Let’s face it — healthy eating and healthy lifestyles can be boring and require a lot of patience. Having the support of an accountability coach and a community of like-minded individuals on your team can make all the difference. Share paths with a practicing holistic nutritionist, receive one-on-one coaching regarding your meals, and be connected on the app with my other clients and Ambassadors. You will have fun, stay motivated, and feel inspired!

Find out more by visiting my website

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