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Is Your Environment Influencing You?

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Would you even know if it was?

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Pricey little bites of styrofoam

Remember that time a few weeks ago that I went to TJMaxx during back-to-school shopping primetime and had some time to kill waiting in line for cashier 11 to become available? I left out the part where I bought a discounted (but still pricey) bag of coconut pieces.

In case you’ve forgotten my original shopping list that day, I’ll remind you that I went in for a sports bra. Coconut pieces weren’t even on my radar. I made it about 93% of the way through the impulse buy funnel unmoved and almost ready to gloat about my superiority over the other sheeple in line buying premature Halloween decorations when I found myself holding a bag of coconut pieces.

Fast forward a few minutes and I’m their proud new owner. Fast forward a few minutes after that and I’m eating them in the car and learning they make a Styrofoam-like noise when you chew them. It didn’t stop me but it was somewhat off-putting.

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When you go to Target to pick up “a few things”

And that is the story of how I feel victim to my environment and bought and ate something I didn’t want or need. (And before you judge me, here, if you have ever tried the newest flavored Red Bull at the grocery store or bought wrapping paper in June at Target, you’re in the same boat).

What’s noteworthy here is that this is not unusual. In fact, stores are intentionally set up in such a way to encourage us to buy more and spend more and on things we didn’t think we needed but now realize we can’t be without. We are more influenced by our environments than we realize.

You have been influenced by your environment if you have ever walked by a desk with candy on it and popped a few pieces into your mouth without thinking about whether you really want an off-brand Lifesaver (not ™).pretzels-1467655_1920

You have been influenced by your environment if you have ever opened the cabinet to grab some pasta for dinner and also grabbed a bag of pretzels to eat while you’re making dinner.

You have been influenced by your environment if you went to dinner with friends and meant to order the salmon but found yourself ordering nachos because the person before you did and they sounded good.

You have been influenced by your environment if you pull into the Chick-Fil-A drive thru after work just because it’s on the way home.

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No obstacle you face is this insurmountable

I bring your attention to these things not to make you feel like you have no control, but instead to raise your awareness that every single day we face obstacles on our path to a healthier lifestyle and that a key component in changing your behavior is clearing yourself a path by changing your situation.

How can you clear yourself a path for success?

Some simple ways:

  • Stop buying foods that you know are trigger foods for you (ie foods that you have trouble eating in healthy amounts or cause you to overeat other foods).
  • If you do buy trigger foods for some reason (like for another member of the household), keep them out of sight and somewhere hard to reach. Or better yet, have the responsible party put them somewhere you won’t be tempted by them.
  • Look for alternative routes to places you go frequently if you’re tempted by a restaurant or store that you drive by. Could you make a small detour to avoid turning in to your favorite drive thru?
  • Rally your herd. It’s very well researched that we are heavily influenced by the people around us. Behavior is contagious, so surround yourself with likeminded people who support you and engage in healthy behaviors. (I have a FREE Facebook group that provides a virtual support system – join us!)Live Diet Free FB Banner

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