Many choices we make daily affect our health, fitness and appearance, either helping or hurting us. Some decisions affect us more directly and immediately, others more indirectly and over a longer period of time. We often make decisions that hurt us fully aware of the consequences, rationalizing them based on some immediate, short-term benefit.
“I knew eating/drinking this will make me feel horrible later and slow down my fat loss, but it tastes so good!”
“I know if I buy this TV I will be late paying bills, but the game is going to look great on it!”
“I really should wear a condom…”
When deciding between different courses of action we usually have some idea what the consequences might be, which can be evaluated based on our values. If you value being strong, fit, healthy, and looking your best more than you value the brief gustatory pleasure a particular unhealthy food provides you should choose to not eat it.
But, many times people choose to eat it any way.
It is common to rationalize having a little occasionally won’t hurt, and in some cases that is true, however if your idea of “a little” and “occasionally” is a serving or two a few times a week it is going to hurt you and/or your progress towards your goals. If you find yourself doing this, when you are trying to decide whether to eat a particular item and weighing how much you value that experience against the potential negative effects don’t think of the negative effect of the single instance, but consider the negative effect of making it a habit over time.
Before eating or drinking something, ask yourself:
Is eating or drinking this going to help or hurt you in the long run, or help or hinder you in accomplishing your goals?
Are you really hungry or thirsty, or just bored or eating out of habit?
If you really are hungry or thirsty could you make a healthier choice?
If you value being strong, fit and healthy and looking good over the temporary enjoyment of eating or drinking certain things make a commitment to thinking and acting in accordance with those values. Post reminders to yourself. Ask friends and relatives for support. Hire a personal trainer.
A few weeks ago I talked about this with a client who wants to lose more fat before summer. In addition to the usual recommendation to purge the house of anything she shouldn’t be eating I suggested she have a photo taken in her swimsuit and post it on her refrigerator door. She says the reminder helps, and it shows. She’s gotten consistently leaner and is well on her way to looking great in a swimsuit this summer.
Whenever I am out with family or friends if I’m tempted to eat or drink something counterproductive to my goals I think about how the enjoyment of a food or drink is temporary while the effect on my body is long lasting. While it might increase my happiness momentarily, it will reduce my overall happiness by negatively affecting the higher value of having a fit, healthy and attractive physique.
A similar choice occurs during exercise. Properly performed high intensity training produces a variety of very uncomfortable sensations – painful muscular burning, significantly elevated heart rate, labored breathing, and even slight dizziness and nausea on occasion – which must be worked through for the best possible results. You can choose to quit when it starts getting hard and avoid the worst of the discomfort, or you can choose to work through it and train as hard as possible.
Which do you value more, being comfortable and avoiding transient and harmless physical discomfort, or getting the best possible results from your workouts?
Which do you value more, the temporary enjoyment a particular food or drink provides, or feeling and looking your best?
Think before you act and choose accordingly.