A scenario for you: You’re trying to eat healthy. You’re actually doing a pretty good job of it; packing your own healthy lunches, cooking meals at home, avoiding sodas. You’re killing it. One day, you have a work lunch meeting. The plan is all set; you’ve picked a great lunch restaurant where you know that there are tons of options you can eat. Then, disaster strikes; the meeting gets pushed back, to let’s say, four. Your lunch place is no longer open and you have to pick somewhere else, knowing that any other place isn’t going to have options that are anywhere near as good. What do you do?

Closeup shot of an unrecognisable businesswoman writing notes at a coffee shop

What if you had a ready-made strategy for that kind of situation? What if you had a ready-made strategy for all those kinds of situations? The times when you don’t want to go to the gym, the times when you have a sweet craving, the times when you know that saying “no” isn’t going to work because your mother-in-law/mom/aunt/cousin is going to fill your plate anyway.

That’s the entire purpose of if-then plans. They create a kind of shortcut for your brain so that you can essentially steer yourself in autopilot even when faced with the unexpected or challenging. They make it possible for you to skip stressful decision-making and move ahead without having to think too much.

It’s a pretty straightforward concept. Here’s how it works:

If I ____________________________________, then I will __________________________.

Fill in the blank. Here are a few examples: If I don’t want to go to the gym, I’ll run with the dog; if I can’t say no to mom, I’ll eat a smaller portion; if I don’t have enough time to do separate lunch prep all week, then I’ll cook an extra portion for dinner each night to take to work.

Get the idea?

Try writing a few of your own. What obstacles have you found yourself facing time and time again when it comes to your health? What are some practical ways to overcome or reduce these obstacles?

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

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