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Change Your Environment Pt 2

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Trader_Joe's Welcome back to the second installment in the at-least-two-part series “Change Your Environment.” In the first part we established that the best way to promote the behavior patterns you want is giving up all technology and moving to some remote, possibly island location where you won’t be tempted by modern frivolities like TV, chicken wings, or pants. Well maybe you don’t want to take such…effective measures. Maybe you want to stay around some of your comforts like a soft bed or your children. Well that’s ok, it could be as simple as changing your grocery store. At my height I was grocery shopping at three or four different stores. Depending on what I wanted to buy and which direction I was driving I might go to Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Trader Joes, or Target. Harris Teeter is the most convenient but it tends to be the most expensive as well. Target has great prices, but their produce is pretty mediocre, and you can’t go in there to buy an apple without coming out with $287 or other stuff you didn’t know you needed. Food Lion and Harris Teeter have similar advantages and disadvantages. I could probably get fancy with a spreadsheet and ruthlessly optimize my shopping trips, but a few weeks ago I decided to shop more-or-less exclusively at Traders Joes. Because I noticed that I usually buy less junk food there. The biggest factor in that is probably lack of selection. Trader Joes does have chips but they come in smaller bags, and they have sweets but no Oreos or chocolate chip cookies. And for all I know the layout, color scheme, and general presentation of the store promote healthier buying habits. You can’t really know when things are affecting you unconsciously but it’s very powerful. In this case I have to go with the results, which is spending less money on healthier food. Not everything at Trader Joe’s is cheaper, but it’s balanced out by all the stuff I don’t buy. And even though Target is a much better place to buy sundry items like paper towels, I get those at Trader Joe’s as well because if I go into Target for paper towels, I’m going to walk out with two bags of chips, a pack of cookies, three frozen pizzas, and an ottoman. It’s always easier to avoid temptation than resist it. Is your gym next to a cupcake shop where you always destroy your hard-won calorie deficits? Go to a different gym, even if it’s less convenient. Do you drive past Bojangles every morning on the way to work? Take a different route. Five extra minutes of driving is a small trade-off for your health.

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