How to say no to temptation and enablers

All your life you’ve been groomed to be independent and confidently so. Then why is it so hard to stick to a healthy lifestyle and ignore temptations? Getting in a workout and choosing healthy foods may seem easy enough to some, but to others, maybe you, it can be difficult when you have enablers all around you that make an unhealthy lifestyle seem like the easy way out.

So how can you put your foot down and say no to these enablers to confidently find your way to reaching your goals? To find the answer, let’s look at typical temptation situations:

1. Your home kitchen/eating area. The way your home is set up might not be conducive to a healthy lifestyle. As far as food goes, out of sight/out of mind may work sometimes, but sometimes this just makes you want it more or you feel guilty if you are hoarding or sneaking unhealthy eating.

It can be especially difficult if you are not in charge of where things are placed. You may need to have an honest discussion with your housemates about the availability of shared food. If temptation lies about on countertops or open shelving, then maybe you can designate a cupboard or area it can be harder to get to.

If you are in control of food purchases, then ask if you really need to buy unhealthy items. If you think you are depriving yourself of even an occasional treat, take a look at your lifestyle and see how often others will be offering treats at social gatherings.

2. Your home exercise area. Is your home set up for you to move about freely or have a designated space, approximately 6x6 feet, where you could do an at-home workout? Find an area in your home (even if you have to move a table or chair out of the way) where you can do some great at home workouts (see my last article on the Interrobang website). The more space you have, the greater the options, but you can still put in a good fat-blasting, muscle building workout right beside your bed. Find a motivational picture or quote to hang on the wall in this area to help remind you.

3. Your friends/family. Friends and family mean well when offering up temptations that are against your goals. For example, your friends that always want to watch movies and eat treats with you really just want to spend time with you. Suggest going to the gym or even for a walk together, making a healthy meal or snack together and eating it while watching the movie.

It’s sometimes even harder to say no to family or even worse, your significant other’s family. Offer to bring healthy options to family dinner, or offer to help prepare meals. You can also suggest going for family walks, playing soccer together or doing something active before the big meal.

4. Your schedule. Juggling a hectic or sporadic schedule is not easy, even for the most organized person. It is especially hard when you have class or work-mates that don’t use their break time efficiently or respect your time to do the things you need to do. Could you ask one or more of them to be your workout buddy and join you at the gym? You are more likely to stick to your plan if someone else is coming along.

It can also be difficult to mealplan if your schedule is not the same every day. This requires some critical thinking of how to get creative with leftovers or how to budget for healthy dining out. Every weekend, look at your schedule for the week ahead and see when the times are that you can prepare a meal and if you make extra to save for a busy day.

Try packing a meal bag each day for when you are on the go, complete with all the meals you need and snacks. Alternatively, you may need to purchase meals and snacks occasionally and there are lots of healthy, cost effective options, especially at a grocery store versus a restaurant or convenience store.

5. Your environment. If you don’t really like workouts in the gym and prefer to be outside, this can be limiting and easy to make excuses as to why you can’t get out (weather, safety, road conditions, etc.). If you don’t feel safe going for a walk or run in your neighbourhood, team up with a friend and go somewhere safer or stay close to home with safety in numbers. You could also check in with your friends to see what sports leagues or intramurals they are a part of and see if they need someone on their team.

Once you have established a regular routine and found the things that you like to do, it gets easier to go out and do those things on your own and even easier to say no to negative temptations. If you don’t feel like you have enough support to get a routine established or to set your self apart from negative temptations, come and see us in the Wellness Centre or sign up for a consultation to discuss your goals and options. We can guide you in the right direction to help you feel your best.

Karen Nixon-Carroll is the Program Manager at the Student Wellness Centre.