Get Rid Of The Junk Food In Your Life

I read something yesterday about willpower that was referring to making healthy food choices, but, because I’m me, I applied it to life and wrote a blog in my head about it before bed. 

Here ya go. 

The title of the little section in the book I’m reading was “An Environment That Requires Too Much Willpower.” It said, “Willpower is a finite resource and we eventually run out.” 

You’ve been there: you want something for yourself— a social life, to lose weight, to launch a new service/product (hey, dats me), more money, to wake up earlier— but when it comes down to doing something to get it, you just can’t seem to find the willpower to get up and go. You’re stuck. 

Of course, there could be an infinite number of reasons why you’re immobile when it comes to your goals, but have you ever considered your environment? Have you ever thought that maybe you’re not in a place that contributes to and encourages those goals? 

Think about the goal of waking up earlier to have more time to get things done during the day. You set your alarm for 5am, and fall asleep around midnight with your latest Netflix binge still on the TV and your phone under your pillow. Logic tells us that 5am ain’t gonna feel too good… and it’s not about willpower, but about the environment you’ve created for that goal to be born into. Look, waking up at 5am requires willpower for most people! I’m not trying to get you to eliminate willpower from your life. I’m trying to make you see that you could conserve a little bit of it instead of relying it on all the time. Because like the article says, it’s a finite resource. 

Think about the environment you have created for your goals to come to life in. (Like it or not, YOU are the one that has created that environment…)

Who are you around? Where are you everyday? What are you looking at? What are you doing? What do you eat? What do you read? What are people saying to you? What music are you listening to? Your environment is all of these things (and more), and if it’s not actively pushing you towards your goals, what are you still doing there?

The book went on to talk about the classic scenario of a dieting person coming home from a long day of work to a house full of junk food. Willpower has to be used, in this scenario we’ve almost all found ourselves victim to, in order to decide “Hey, I’m not going to grab a cookie from that plate. I’m going to go bake a chicken breast and sauté some green beans,” (said no tired-person ever.) 

The point is, if you are in an environment where you are constantly having to utilize extreme willpower to accomplish your goals, maybe it’s time to reconsider that environment. I’m not saying accomplishing your goals should be easy, but it also shouldn’t be torture, right? Although we, as a society, tend to believe that unless there was blood, sweat, tears and struggle it doesn’t count, this is far from true. The good things do require some sacrifice, some tough choices, some willpower and some resistance to temptations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it just a little easier on yourself. 

I’m reminded of the importance of a good environment when I watch my sister study her days and nights away in medical school. If she chose an environment of people always asking her to hang out, noisy places, cafes filled with distractions, every single study session would be filled with an overwhelming amount of willpower. The willpower to say “no” to invitations. The willpower to block out all the nosies. The willpower to keep reading and not look around. The thing is, studying already requires willpower. Why put yourself in a place that requires more than you can give?

It also works nicely with the junk food example: if you want to eat healthier, why put yourself in an environment where you are constantly forced to use willpower to resist temptations? Why not rid the house of junk foods and free yourself of using what’s already a limited resource? 

But “junk food” is everywhere in our lives. It’s not just literal food, but anything that is causing us to make unnecessary hard choices when it comes to reaching our goals. 

The section finishes by saying, “So, we can either beat ourselves up each day for being a willpower weakling or just create an environment that doesn't require so much willpower.” It’s easy to look at people who have accomplished similar things to what we want and say, “Man they’re so lucky. I wish I had half their motivation,” or “Gosh, that would be really great if I had the time/money/energy.” But you know what? The people who have those things that we want created an environment for themselves to flourish in. They eliminated the “junk food” from their lives, and saved their willpower for when it was necessary. 

Look around at your environment: what are your limiting factors? What “junk food” could you eliminate to make it less about willpower and more about an encouraging environment? What’s distracting you, forcing you to struggle when you don’t have to, or just making it more difficult to get from here to there? 

Create the environment that nurtures your goals, that sets you up to succeed. Quit staying stuck in the one that constantly presents you with hard choices. I’m not saying it should be easy, but quit making it harder than it has to be.