When, where, who, and why?
We’re back for part 2 of our Cheating “cheatsheet” blog. If you haven’t had a chance, check out Part 1 here.
But this week, we’re going to focus less on food and more on your environment. Because it’s a big thing that often gets overlooked. And it can have a tremendous positive impact on our health goals if we’re able to optimize it to support us better.
So let’s dive right in…
Our primary goal when it comes to optimizing our environment (and this includes the people in it!) is to maximize our high-control times. When we can leverage the times and circumstances where making good or better choices is not as much of a struggle, we free up stamina and willpower for the times when that’s not the case.
And we want to keep as much of that willpower and commitment in our reserves as we can, because when we’re out, we’re out…cue the Klondike bars!.
When do you have the most willpower?
What will give you a quick and easy win? What meals are easy for you to nail down health-wise? If certain meals standout as easy to control or with the least amount of temptation then focus on making those the best choices you can.
For me, those meals are breakfast and lunch. Those 2 meals seem to be the easiest to plan and the least likely times that I am thinking about so-called “naughty foods.” At dinner, on the other hand, I might not be so saintly. For you that might be different, maybe you gain steam as the day goes on so you’ll want to focus on maximizing your healthy choices for lunch and dinner but relax a little at breakfast.
Try to find a way to balance those less than stellar meals. For me, I’ll often go for a walk after a more indulgent dinner. What is something you can do to balance out your 20% food choices? Again, strive for progress, not perfection. Build on your easiest meal of the day.
Where do you have the most control?
What environment allows you to exercise the most control over your eating pattern? Is it at work or at home?
Or somewhere else? What about how you set up your environment? What do I mean by that? Well again using myself as an example, I am most in control of what I eat in my home. Because I keep the dangerously tempting treats out of my house. I don’t tell myself I can’t have something like ice cream…but if I want it, I have to go for a bit of a walk to the nearest Baskin Robbins or local ice cream joint. I never want to have a forbidden list of “bad” foods because that just leads to drudgery and depression.
But I know myself best. If it’s in my freezer, or in my cupboards, it’s going to get eaten. In fact, I am convinced it actually calls to me…tempting me when I would otherwise not even think about it were it not here.
Who is going to help you the most?
You know who these people are…the ones who support you in your healthy choices or the ones who almost seem to actively tempt you with choices that will blow your 80/20 out of the water. So when you think of these people, consider how much time you spend with the tempters and how much time you spend with supporters. Can you minimize your exposure to one group and maximize the time spent with the other?
Or can you have a heart to heart with your resident tempter and ask them for the support you need. A lot of times the people who are pushing us outside of our eating patterns don’t realize they’re doing it, how stressful it can be for us, and what the long-term consequences could be. Have an open discussion and you might be surprised how quickly a tempter turns into a supporter!
The whole point of the 80/20 approach is to help you keep going with as little fuss and stress as possible. It’s a great way to stop that cycle of falling off the wagon and getting back on again. It helps you to not throw in the towel because you’re worth the effort. And the efforts that you make now help the quality of your health. And the earlier you can take effort or action – imperfect action at that – the better your long term health will be.
So many individuals who downloaded our Show Me What To Eat guide have reached out and expressed frustration at not having had this information or this style of approach earlier when they were first diagnosed with prediabetes – because now many of them have type 2 diabetes.
And if you already have diabetes, don’t think you have nothing to lose, because there are still so many things you can do to not only improve your health now but to ensure you remain healthier in the future. Use that 80/20 rule to help keep you going every day when it’s easy and when it’s rough.
Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t give up because you expected perfection. Give yourself the kindness and flexibility so that you can do your best to stay healthy over the long run.
I hope this has sparked some ideas and new thoughts on how you can apply and incorporate this in your everyday life whether you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. I hope that the next time you bypass the broccoli for something a little less healthy that you’re not going to beat yourself up for it and that you’re not going to stop trying.
And most importantly that you don’t think of those less than perfect choices that you make as cheating anymore. Because the only cheating that happens occurs when you give up – when you cheat on yourself and your future. Remember that the goal of progress over perfection and that consistency over the long haul is what keeps you on track and living your best life for as long as possible.
To your good health!