I recently attended a Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference in Chicago. The three day agenda covered the latest scientific research regarding the behavioral, surgical and pharmacological aspects of managing body weight.
The phrase “working upstream” was used by two different presenters on unrelated topics, but the words immediately elicited a mental image from my childhood.
On hot summer days at the camp I attended, we would walk in a nearby river upstream towards the beginning of the fast flowing current. The water swirled rapidly over the rocky bed and partially submerged tree limbs that lay on the river’s bank. We would unsteadily wade through the knee high water against the strong current in our old holey tennis shoes.
The reward of our efforts was the cool weightless feeling of floating through the water with our feet poking up through the turbulence and carrying us effortlessly back towards camp.
My thoughts then turned to how we might similarly change our daily behaviors by “working upstream”. By proactively getting ahead of triggers to old behaviors we can effectively change our environment. As we put strategies in place ahead of time we are able to move forward with greater ease against the daily pull of our old habits….
- Taking time on the weekend to plan meals for the week makes weekday meals easier and eating out less of a necessity
- Keeping chips, candy and ice cream out of the house makes grabbing a piece of fruit more likely
- Offering a bowl of individual nuts packets in place of the candy jar at the receptionist’s desk helps displace the ubiquitous candy jar.
- Having workout clothes and tennis shoes laid out the night before makes rolling out of bed a ½ earlier a little more doable
This week try “working upstream”. It may take some effort to get upstream but the float down to healthy behaviors will be refreshingly worth it.