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Managing Your Environment for Success in Health

Author: Cara Walsh

April 29, 2014

Managing Your Environment for Success in Health

Author: Cara Walsh

April 29, 2014
Manage your environment

  • Studies have shown that you are, without a doubt, a product of your environment. A typical day in modern society is flooded with fast food, and sedentary activities that prompt overeating and physical inactivity.

Create an environment with healthy cues

  • This can inspire you to develop and maintain motivation to sustain healthy behaviors

What is a healthy cue?

  • A healthy cue is an action or external event that prompts a desire to make a change. It can help move you from wanting to make a health change to actually making a change.
  • Try a few of these easy cues:
    • Visit your Medifast Weight Control Center once a week
    • Keep a food journal
    • Keep a scale in the bathroom and weigh yourself regularly
    • Keep fruits and vegetables out on the counter in a bowl
    • Eat slowly and on smaller plates
    • Read all nutrition labels
    • Buy a healthy cookbook to display in the kitchen
    • Put a healthy quote on the screen saver of your phone, computer or fridge
    • Place your athletic shoes or a piece of exercise equipment where you can see it daily
    • Make appointments for exercise throughout the week

If you want to push yourself even more, you can use a pedometer to focus on reaching 10,000 steps a day, do small exercises during commercial breaks, plan out dinners for the week and do recipe makeovers to make your favorite unhealthy dishes a little healthier. 

Recognizing current and past triggers that may have provoked unhealthy eating habits is also important for long term success. A trigger is anything, such as an act or event that serves as a stimulus and can prompt unhealthy behaviors (like eating when you are not hungry). Walking past a bowl of candy in the hallway at work may trigger you to eat the candy every time you walk past it. Once a trigger is recognized, it is important to manage it appropriately. Move the bowl of candy to a place where it is not easily accessible or even removing the bowl from the hallway can help control your habit of eating the candy. Other common triggers of eating when not hungry are:

  • Opening up the cabinet and seeing your favorite snack food. Tip: keep the snacks or unhealthy foods hidden in the pantry
  • Sitting at home watching television. Tip: do sit-ups during commercials
  • Before or after a stressful meeting or situation at work. Tip: take a yoga class or try deep breathing exercises to calm down, get a stress ball, chew on sugar free gum
  • Coming home after work and having no idea what’s for dinner. Tip: have meals already organized or have easy to make meals available (i.e frozen veggies or pre made rotisserie chicken, crock pot)
  • Having someone offer you a dish they made “just for you!” Tip: practice saying “no” or “I don’t” rather than “I can’t”; or share the dish at the party or take it to work and share with co-workers
  • Sitting in the break room beside the vending machine. Tip: leave cash at home or bring snacks from home
  • Seeing a plate of doughnuts at the morning staff meeting. Tip: bring a healthy option for everyone to share, like a bowl of fruit and Medifast bars
  • Feeling bored or tired and thinking food might offer a pick-me-up. Tip: evaluate your hunger first, maybe you are just thirsty?

Don’t underestimate the importance of introducing healthy cues and recognizing triggers.  In order to make the associations and see healthy results, you must begin to control your environment until the behavior changes become automatic.

About the Author:

Cara Walsh
Counselor at The Carmel Mountain Ranch Medifast Weight Control Center
Cara Walsh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Weight Control Counselor. Cara received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from San Diego State University and completed her dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian through the Utah State University. Cara is currently completing her Masters in Dietetic Administration through Utah State University. Cara has always had a passion for healthy eating and cooking. She loves to focus on how food can heal and provide nutrition-while tasting delicious. Cara thrives on helping others reach their full potential nutritionally. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going to Pilates and running the boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean with her son and husband.

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