Dig Ruts on the Right Roads
Shelly, a player in Game #19, posted in the Facebook group about resisting carry-out lunch with coworkers. Instead, she ate the food she'd packed.
That's not easy to do. That’s a HUGE win.
The pull is strong in moments like that. Carry-out is fun. It's easy. It's usually delicious. It’s often social - everyone's doing it.
And it's even easier to tell yourself, "just today." You give in, and you vow to return to eating your pre-packed homemade lunch the next day.
But every time we give in to cravings and temptation, that's the habit we're building.
It's easy to say "just this once" but you know the opportunity, cravings and temptation will arise again and again and again, and you gotta choose which muscle to flex.
Think of developing habits like this:
You’re choosing a dirt road to drive. The more you drive the same dirt road, the more ‘worn’ the road gets. Your tires cause deep ruts to form. Anyone passing by would see it’s a well-worn path.
A well-worn road is not ideal when it’s to the wrong destination. But it’s fabulous when it’s to a great destination!
Following a well-worn road is easy. You know the way, there are no surprises, you can follow it more or less on auto-pilot. How nice! We don't always appreciate how nice it is do something without having to give it too much thought or expend too much mental or emotional energy!
Here’s how you choose the “right” road.
Set the Tone Right Away
Do the hard work up front and develop the “right” well-worn road.
When I started a corporate job five years ago, I learned that 75% of my co-workers ordered restaurant food for lunch every single day. It was a whole thing - the debate of where to get food, the collection of orders, the gathering of money, annoyance when someone was on the phone and the others had to wait to place the order.
My first day at work, I’d packed a lunch because of course being new, I had no idea what to expect. Was there a break room with appliances? Where would I eat? I didn’t want to worry about ordering when I didn’t know the situation.
My desk was in the front of the office, so I was privy to everything everyone did. I even had to receive most restaurant deliveries (annoying) for my co-workers.
Being someone who focuses on fitness and nutrition, I knew right away I needed to work hard to not give in to temptation and join the carry-out crew.
I silently vowed to pack my lunch every day for at least a month.
I needed to drill down into the habit. Travel the same road, no detours. Until ruts formed.
The habit required far more than simply saying NO when the what-food-to-order negotiation began every day.
The habit required:
Planning ahead to have ingredients on hand for packing lunches
Packing the lunches
Remembering the take the lunches (LOL)
Saying no, again and again, to offers of placing an order
Not wavering when I’d smell the carry-out food arrive
Tamping down feelings of jealousy
Being satisfied with my lunch
Ignoring or sassing back when co-workers teased me for “being so disciplined”
Repeat repeat repeat
It wasn’t easy, but within a few weeks, I had a normal lunch routine that required little thought or effort.
In the early days, while most ate in the office, I wandered off to a break room that was on a different floor. Partly to get away and partly to avoid temptation.
Doing that brought unexpected benefits!
Alone time away from co-workers (and boy did I need that)
I made new friends, people from other companies in the same building
I got to know Roberto, the maintenance man, really well (and that paid dividends whenever I needed his help)
I knew that if I gave in and ordered food early on in my tenure there, that was the habit I’d develop. And as we know, the whole thing about habits is that they become habitual.
I did on occasion order carry-outs with my coworkers. It was a fun treat at times!
But more often than not, the food didn’t live up to my expectations, it cost a lot, and it even caused me to feel yucky and sleepy which made the afternoon shift drag on forrrrevvverrrrrrr.
Make up your mindset to drive the path toward your fitness and nutrition goals until it has deep ruts.