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A behavioral pre-decision is a mental commitment that happens without the investment of thought. It can pertain to any area of life – career, finances, social… but as you can probably guess, I’m going to talk about how it pertains to health and fitness.
I make pre-decisions every day that keeps me lean and fit, and I don’t invest a moment of thought in it. I make eggs or protein pancakes for breakfast without fail. I have a big salad for lunch with protein, and dinner is where I let my creative juices flow. I do this because:
- it’s easy,
- I generally know how many calories I’ve consumed before dinner,
- I’m lazy,
- I really like eggs, Protein Pancakes and big ass salads.
I also pre-decide to workout 7 days a week.
To be clear, this doesn’t always happen. Typically there is at least 1 day a week where something totally annoying (like work) gets in the way, and I can’t work out, so I net out at 5 to 6 days a week, and that’s perfect for me. Because I have the consistency of working out every day, it’s rarely something I need to talk myself into (and I know you know what I”m talking about). It’s just a thought of what my body feels like doing that day, and typically, I have that written down on my Evernote To-do list anyway.
Pre-decisions are VITAL to your fitness and fat loss goals and the most powerful way you can influence this is with grocery shopping. Every time you go to the market, you pre-decide what temptations you’ll have to contend with in a weak moment, or what healthy snacks you’ll have at hand every day.
If you buy chips, ice cream, crackers, cookies or anything else you know will sabotage your efforts, you are consciously pre-deciding to challenge yourself in ways you know you’ll probably lose. And even if you don’t lose, you’ll mentally exhaust yourself with your internal battles every time you get the munchies.
So why go there?
If you pre-decide not to let temptation into your home, you pre-decide to win. Rarely do people leave the house just to buy junk food in a weak moment, so you’re almost guaranteeing yourself a success if you choose well when you shop.
This is why bikini and figure competitors do that whole meal prep thing where they know which piece of Tupperware to open for their 3 pm meal on Tuesday. It’s not just a time saver, it takes the question and process (and therefore the temptation) out of having to decide what to eat in the moment when their level of hunger might influence their choice more than what has been pre-decided and prepared for them to eat.
Pre-decision is a powerful behavior tool to use in any circumstance where you feel your self-discipline is lacking, but it’s particularly important when building the right mindset around food and health.
So if you tend to indulge in a croissant at your 10 am staff meetings just because it’s there, pre-decide to only eat half your breakfast that morning and bring the other half to the meeting so you’ll have something to eat instead. Last week, I found myself face-to-face with a crazy gorgeous chocolate chunk croissant, but because I had pre-decided to stay away from sugars and grains, I kept walking (I admit, it was hard).
Now it’s your turn! Think about areas you know you can improve, and pre-decide to engage differently. Let me know what you come up with!
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, healthy recipes, home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.