Stop turning to food/drink and get busy with healthy distractions
Remember when fat was an unhealthy “bad” word. Then with a bit more thoughtfulness and study we realized that in fact some fats (unsaturated) are actually very healthy for us and so we split fats into healthy essential oils and unhealthy saturated fats. Well the same is true for mental distractions.
Healthy distractions can keep your mind busy and hence off the food or other tempting unhealthy distractions, while still serving your ultimate goals.
So is not just a matter of remaining focused as long as you can, it is also a matter of strategically choosing to be distracted for a certain amount of time doing certain healthy things.
Sometimes we are doing healthy things that are aligned with our goals, but we might not be exactly enjoying it in the moment so we look to procrastinate with distractions, healthy or not. Times like these might include: fitness training, cooking, studying, meditating, working on a project, revising your resume, planning a wedding, etc. In these moments we think of distractions as “bad” because they pull us away from healthy things. No matter what distraction we choose, it could be considered “bad” if it isn’t ultimately helping us complete our task, however it could be considered “good” if we choose a healthy distraction “break” along the way as a reward and support for continued effort. This is a subtle differentiation with vastly different results. This is also a time for employing self-discipline, strengthening your mental focus and letting go of the desirous thoughts to be doing something easier, more exciting or comforting. The timing and amount of the distraction determines if it is “good” or “bad”, i.e. in service of your goals or not, but the healthiness of the distraction is dependant on the quality of what you choose to do with that time. Instead of fast food or copious amounts of coffee take a 15-20 min break on something engaging and fun you feel drawn to do like finding new music, organizing/sharing photos, watching a funny show, or talking to a friend. The key is to have a set time to return to your work, but food and caffeine is too often used to make us feel better as we trudge through boring work. Take a busy break instead and make it fun.
Other times we are overwhelmed by emotions, stress or even boredom and while we should acknowledge and deal with the thoughts and situations directly, spending too much time in your head is exhausting and counter productive. I’ve found it most effective to balance your mind and body by alternating periods of directly addressing the current emotional issue in your life with a busying distraction to help get our mind off of the stress inducing thoughts and find some peace.
I think we are all pretty familiar with these situations such as:
- Bored with your job
- Fighting with a family member/kid
- Relationship breakup
- Stressed about work or school deadline
- Haggard by travel
- Feeling down or self pity generally
When we are in a state of distress we tend to make unhealthy decisions for our mind and body, when we are at peace we make healthier decisions. If we know this and can cut ourselves off before we add more unhealthy distracting behaviors on top of things then we can choose healthier distractions that not only support our fitness goals, but our success and happiness in regard to the current issue. My personal go to distraction is exercise, because raising your heart rate is like kick starting your spirit. There is a reason that the heart is the organ we relate to our emotions, so go for a run, walk the dog or work out in whatever way possible. Get the blood and endorphins flowing and you will not waste time and calories sitting around feeling lousy.
Here are some common unhealthy distractions to avoid because while they might give pleasure in the moment, they always make you feel as bad or worse afterwards and ultimately pull you away from your goals. Next to those is a list of healthy distractions to navigate towards most of the time. These become all the more important when you are trying to burn fat by dropping your caloric intake and staying consistent in your training.
Choose your distractions wisely!