What my degree in IPE didn't teach me about baking, DIY, fitness, and life…
The power of availability – we all think we’re immune, but we’re kidding ourselves. If it’s there, we’re more likely to reach for it. The bad news is that’s true for the stuff we’d rather not reach for (when we’re feeling virtuous that is) – the candy jar, a piece of cake, a second helping of mac&cheese. But there’s good news too. It works just as well for the stuff we’re trying to train ourselves to reach for – an apple, our gym shoes, that book that we’ve been meaning to get to.
If you want to stop doing something: snacking, eating junk, watching so much TV, then make it less available. Studies show that simply moving the candy jar out of reach made it much less attractive (people who could see it, reached for it 70% more frequently). Packaging matters too. Think you’re not affected by size, guess again! Size matters =p (tehee). We tend to judge how much we’ve eaten based on cues like the size of the container. In one study, people given a half pound bag of M&Ms ate on average 71 candies, while people who were given a 1lb bag ate 137 M&Ms- 264 calories more, without really even noticing. (Want to read more studies like this? Pick up Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink) The truth is that to a certain extent, we’re all on the see-food diet. So think about how you structure your day. What do you want to do? Put cues for that in plain sight and easy reach. Come on, give yourself a Nudge.
If you don’t want to eat all of these (above), hide them in the back of the closet. Or better yet, don’t buy them at all. Instead buy these (below), put them in a big beautiful bowl in a place you pass all the time.
But this isn’t just about food, it works for other behaviours too. Want to get out and exercise more? Put your sneakers and gym clothes where you’ll trip over them on your way out of bed (or on your way into the house if you want to exercise after work) Want to drink more water? Fill a big bottle and put it next to your desk. Watch what happens – I dare you!
My challenge to you… Give yourself a nudge this week. Restructure one habit, one item placement, one small thing and see where it takes you. Be your own guinea pig. Come on, what have you got to lose?!
And if you want some help with that, SlimKicker is doing a March Madness Giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a BowFlex home gym – something you could walk by everyday to give yourself the cue to move… Why not go over there and check it out? Let the start of Spring be another chance to start over and get healthy. =)