18 unique ways to lose the first 10 pounds.
Shape your environment and your body will follow.
Changing how you think and feel is hard. Changing your environment isn’t. And by shaping your environment, your body will follow. Here, 18 unique tips for doing just that. Use these to lose the first 10 pounds, or the last.
If I took 50 random strangers to the grocery store and asked them to fill their basket with only nutritious, health-promoting foods, I bet they could do it. In other words, most people generally know what’s “healthy”. Or good for them.
If that’s true, why are so many people sick from chronic preventable diseases? Why are they sedentary and carrying around extra body fat? Why are people not putting all those nutritious, health-promoting foods into their grocery baskets — or more importantly, their bodies?
Why are people eating so poorly?
Obviously, just knowing stuff isn’t enough to actually do stuff.
Being able to memorize carb grams, or calorie tables, or the names of exotic superfoods doesn’t often change what we eat when it’s time for a hurried breakfast or a got-home-late-from-work dinner.
Those particular eating decisions have more to do with what’s (and who’s) around us — our environment.
Why is environment so important?
We like to think that we…think.
In other words, we assume we make rational, conscious, informed choices based on logically weighing all the available options. We assume that we make our decisions by thinking reasonably about things.
However, research has shown that most of our decisions are automatic, based on patterns and brain shortcuts.
Instead of slowly deciding, step by step, our brains quickly process a handful of grab-n-go inputs and pick from a recognizable menu of options. We ignore stuff we don’t like or want to see, and we’re easily compelled by shiny distractions.
Basically, our brains like the thinking version of fast food — go to the place that’s most appealing, speed through the drive-thru, pick the favorite combo from the menu, slam the decision, move on to the next choice.
So we don’t actually think much when we think we’re thinking.
We follow patterns, physical cues that bubble beneath our awareness, and what’s around us. That means our environment powerfully shapes our decisions, more than we realize.
Most of us will eat all that we’re served — no matter how big the portion is. If we’re served a small bag of popcorn, we’ll eat that. If we are served a bucket of popcorn, we’ll eat that. Presumably if we are served a Volkswagen full of popcorn, we’d do our best to finish that off too.
We often eat more when we’re multitasking. Ever started snacking while watching TV or playing video games, then found yourself staring at an empty bag or bowl, wondering where it all went? Your attention was elsewhere, so your eating machine just went on autopilot.
If we consistently eat bigger portions, bigger portions will seem “normal” — and we’ll regularly overeat. Our great-grandparents (who drank 7-ounce soft drinks and ate 4-ounce hamburgers in the 1950s) would be astounded at the 50-ounce Double Gulps and 12-ounce Monster Thickburgers commonplace in the US. We’ve lost our perspective on how much we should really be eating.
Our environment: The foundation of habit.
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