One of the key strategies that I focus on with my coaching client’s is environmental control. If you’re an alcoholic, that means removing the alcohol from your home, office, car, and any other place you hide it as well as avoiding bars, night clubs and other places where alcohol is the main purpose of being in that environment. If you have a food addiction, then it’s the same thing, just with food.
The common complaint that I get is that there are other people in their environment that aren’t cooperating. A spouse who doesn’t want to stop having a glass of wine with dinner or children who want to have potato chips and other junk food in the house. Keeping your environment clean when other people keep messing it up is frustrating and demotivating. Here are 3 ways to help you overcome the pigs:
- Decide what’s in your environment that really matters – I’m vegetarian. For me, controlling my environment means having healthy food options in my refrigerator or pantry at all times. My husband is not vegetarian. But I don’t care if someone brings meat into my house, or cheese, milk or ice cream. It doesn’t bother me at all because I have no desire what-so-ever to eat any of these things. The last time my husband bought ice cream for a dinner party, it sat in the freezer for 6 months before I through it away! Where I draw the boundary is when someone brings crisps/chips or cookies, cakes, etc into my home. If there are chips in my house, I will eat them. Guaranteed. I will rationalize it that I’m eating them to “get rid of them” and yet, I still eat them. I don’t throw them away. Create boundaries for yourself on what’s allowed in your environment and what’s not. For me – No junk in the house!
- Don’t force your environment on others – The people you live with or work with don’t have to change anything. They can go on living their lives just as they would any other day of the year. The only thing that you are asking them to do is to respect your boundaries. For example, if your spouse really wants to have his double chocolate chunk ice cream while you’re trying to lose weight, good for him! Just ask him to respect your boundary in choosing not to eat it. One way you can do this is to negotiate where it goes (like out of your site, more difficult to get to, etc.). Another way is to request that he doesn’t ask you to join him in his indulgence. It’s amazing how many people will try to sabotage your success by asking you to break your own rules, “Ahhhh, just one little bite won’t hurt you.” Set up the boundary in advance and make sure they don’t ask. Another way you can get assistance from others without forcing your choices on them is to use the “experiment” approach to get cooperation. Tell them you are conducting an “experiment” and give them rules and guidelines you are following in the “experiment” and how they can help you succeed in this “experiment.” When people believe they are participating in something important that is actually being measured and has rules to it – they are more likely to oblige. It’s human nature.
- Make it easy for you to win – This is the easiest one of them all. Stay away! Don’t go into environments where you know you are tempting fate. Don’t “test” yourself to see how great your willpower is (especially at night). It’s isn’t going to win the test. If you do, you may succeed AND at the same time you are strengthening the wiring in your brain to follow the same strategy as before. If you put the ice cream in the freezer to see how long you can hold out and not eat it, you are just wiring your brain to “ice cream” but if you don’t have ice cream in the freezer and there’s corn or peas there instead, then you’re wiring your brain to corn and peas. Get it? Just stay away. You’ll be much more successful – trust me!
These same techniques can apply to getting organized, being more productive or going to the gym.
Look around your environment right now, are there PIGS that are making it difficult to succeed?