Recently I was asked to share tips with the Diabetes Council on how to stop procrastinating when it comes to healthy eating and getting active. The following is a summary of my advice:
Procrastination is a natural human reaction to avoiding what we don’t feel like doing. It’s the adult version of a three-year-old’s “I don’t wanna” tantrum. When it comes to changing our ways in order to eat healthier and be more active, procrastination can easily set in because it’s so much more tempting to just curl up on the couch with a bucket of ice cream. So, how do we get over that procrastination hump?
Change your mindset about healthy eating and active living.
If you tell yourself “this stinks” then of course you won’t want to do it. Instead ask yourself, “What activity can I do today to make my life better?” Or, when you’re right about to procrastinate, ask yourself, “How will avoiding healthy eating benefit my well-being?” It’s a trick question. Of course it won’t benefit you, so your brain registers that it needs to do something beneficial.
Build in rewards to stop procrastinating.
Each time you exercise or eat healthy, the obvious reward will be a better you. But your brain won’t buy into that for a while. Trick your brain into doing these things by lining up rewards like letting yourself play on Facebook for 10 minutes after you exercise, or treating yourself to a nice cup of herb tea after a healthy meal. I’m a wine lover, so my reward is getting to enjoy a small glass of red wine (it’s good for heart health!) with dinner if I get in at least 5000 steps for the day. On days that I might fall short, I find a way to get in those steps because I want my wine!
Schedule your meal planning and activity sessions for as early in the day as possible.
If you’re not able to change your mindset about healthy eating, then meal planning may not seem fun to you. Get this done first thing in the morning on whichever day of the week you choose. When you get this off your plate, the rest of the day will be a piece of cake! (errr, piece of watermelon!)
In the end, procrastination is a mind game. You can choose to stop procrastinating and win that game for the sake of a healthier, happy you.