Saturday, October 29, 2011

From Convenience to Compliance

This principle is pretty obvious, yet I don't always take advantage of it:

Convenience tends to encourage compliance.

I had not even finished typing that sentence before I had a SHOULD ATTACK.

I SHOULD be committed no matter what.

I SHOULD do what is right, rather than what is convenient.


But, contrary to what prevalent societal messages might imply, there is no virtue in doing something the hard way when it isn't necessary. Why not make doing the right thing convenient?

You know why all that junk is displayed in the checkout lane--things you might not walk across the store to buy but will occasionally toss into your cart while you are waiting? Sure you do. So does the store. The more convenient it is for you, the more likely you are to buy it.

Consider these questions about your health and fitness lifestyle:

1) What kinds of foods are the easiest to grab in your home at this moment?

2) If you decided that you wanted to exercise right now (or immediately before or after work), what would you have to do first? Find your walking shoes? Move furniture around and find a video or a mat or your pedometer or some weights? Drive across town to a gym?

3) How about your support system? When you need help related to eating or exercise, what do you do? Do you have support and/or resources already identified which you can access quickly and easily, when the need arises?

Here's my guess. If the answers were that 1) you usually have healthy snacks readily available and no candy or baked goods lying around under your nose 2) you already have a nearby place to exercise with a workout routine you've established and know exactly where your exercise shoes, clothes, and equipment are, and 3) you have a good support system in place, then I'll bet you are doing well with your fitness goals.

Most of us know, at least generally, what kinds of choices will move us in the direction of health and wellness, but it's easy to let them slide. The key is making it as easy as possible to keep the promises you make to yourself, like eating better and moving more.

I've done fairly well with my own weight loss goals, and I'm physically stronger than I was 6 months ago, mostly from exercising regularly at a local gym, but there's definitely still room for improvement. It's time for me to take a look at my day-to-day routine and find new ways to encourage consistently healthy choices and discourage choices that set me back or slow me down.

How about you? What are some things you've done to make it easier to stay on track? Are there additional changes you can put in place to facilitate doing the right thing? I'd love to hear your thoughts.