Setting Goals

Prioritize your way to healthy living

Make your decisions and stick with them

(June 2012)
Read previous Heather Foy columns!
Heather Foy

Convenience is all about accessibility. What can we do for ourselves to make healthy choices easier?
We spend money on smart phones and top of the line technology to make communication easier. Most would admit to spending 20 minutes looking for a lost remote, most likely because we truly can’t channel surf without the clicker. The click of a mouse – the push of a button – the swipe of a debit card.
We live in a world filled with convenient choices. Why do we make healthy choices so difficult? Mostly likely because it takes effort. We search for the easy way out and are not always willing to make the sacrifices necessary to improve our health.
I recently asked my husband, Mike, – a daily exerciser, health club manager and 20-year college coach, what comes to mind when he thinks about making healthy choices “convenient”? His quick, but clever response, “It’s not convenient – it takes work and dedication.”
The sad after thought is he’s right. It takes sacrifice like saying “no” on most days to a second helping of potatoes or getting up before sunrise to commit to an hour of exercise. Healthy choices take dedication like pledging to drink a glass of water before eating a snack or giving up that Polar Pop a day to have money for a gym membership.
There’s no magic answer. We all find excuses why we don’t make healthy choices. Justifications or reasons why we choose to have one more cigarette, eat one more doughnut, or why we didn’t take that power walk today.
For years, I have convinced myself that my body only needs five hours of sleep. I’ve been guilty of telling others, “I’m just not a big sleeper.” I tell myself that I can function just fine on less than the suggested eight hours of sleep.
Who am I kidding? It’s a personal mind game to make me feel better about making excuses why I don’t make time for sleep.
If I truly analyze, the solution is simple. Prioritize, become organized and stop making excuses. Quit wasting an extra hour in front of the TV and realize that getting the sleep I need will make me more productive for tomorrow’s to-do list.
I recently gave a presentation to a group of eager women ready for motivation to make healthy choices. My presentation, titled “Eliminating Exercise Excuses,” listed every excuse in the book. After a month of research (and years of person excuse-making experience), I compiled a list of excuses as long as a kid’s Christmas list. Most likely when you hear excuses, you squirm in your seat knowing that you have made the same excuse on many occasions.
The key must be to find the will-power necessary to avoid temptation and move beyond excuse making. There must be successful “How-To Tips” to move you one step closer toward your goal.
If a basic goal is to take a power walk during your work lunch break, what are the simple steps that can be taken to move you toward accomplishing this goal? Put your power walk on your calendar just like you would schedule a meeting with your boss. Be prepared to bring a healthy lunch and avoid the time it takes to make a fast food run.
What about your excuse for not walking because you forgot shoes? Put your shoes in the car the night before. Post a reminder to bring your shoes the next morning. Or better yet, buy a second pair of sneakers to keep at the office.
When it comes to unhealthy eating excuses, it often boils down to temptation. For many, if you can see it, smell it, touch it – it’s a temptation.
Everyone has his weakness. If there is a bag of chips in my pantry, I have absolutely no desire to open it, nor am I tempted to eat one chip, let alone the entire bag. But put a half gallon of ice cream in my freezer, and it calls my name daily – begging for me to grab a spoon (and extra chocolate sauce) and dig it.
To resist the temptation, do I need to discover the will power inside of me to say “no”? Or should I just be wise and simply not keep it in the freezer?
The answer: It might take a combination of enhanced will power and not making the temptation accessible.
The example is comparable to the research done on the “see through” office candy bowl. The calorie and candy-consumed count is higher when we can SEE the candy. Do you know it’s there, and is it within arm’s reach?
Think about the convenience tips given to those who are trying to quit smoking. Put away – or better yet throw away – every ash tray in the house. Get rid of the lighters and don’t keep an emergency cigarette “just in case.”
Make a pledge not to go the same gas station where you always bought your smokes. Every cessation expert will advise to change your routine to help you avoid those “automatic” smokes – the times when you look down and there is one in your hand, even though you don’t remember lighting it.
Taking care of our health must rank high on the priority list. Too many excuses for too many years will truly bury you. The lucky are the few.
Plain and simple – Most people can’t eat fried chicken every day, visit buffets frequently and avoid exercise at every cost – and expect to be healthy. Finding the belief deep within is a key to success. Other can inspire you, but no one can make the choices for you.
“If you believe you can, or if you believe you can’t – you’re right.” Henry Ford.

• Heather Foy is a 20-year coach and group exercise instructor in Madison, Ind., who has been in the Wellness field for nearly 20 years. Email her at hnfoy@yahoo.com.


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