In high school I had braces. During college, my retainers broke and I didn’t get them replaced. Over time, my teeth shifted and became crooked again. About a year ago, I decided to do something about it and went with Invisalign braces. They are a type of clear plastic mold that fits over all of your teeth. Every two weeks, you switch them out with a set that is slightly closer to the final position for your teeth.
One of the side effects of having your teeth encased in plastic is that you have to plan out your eating a bit more. You have to take them out before you eat. When you are finished, you have to wash them and then brush your teeth really well before putting them back. If you go too long with them out, it hurts when they go back in.
After several months, my wife said it looked like I was losing weight. The scales confirmed that I had lost about 5 or 6 pounds. I mentioned this to the dentist and he said, “Oh yes. In fact we’ve studied that. Our average client using Invisalign loses 20 pounds.” I thought I had misheard him.
20 pounds is a huge amount of weight. (I would have been in serious trouble if I had dropped that much.) It was amazing to hear how much people were able to lose simply by making it a bit more work to snack between meals. This got me to thinking about other areas where making something a bit more difficult can help change your habits. Here are some ideas:
- Don’t keep soda pop in the kitchen. Make sure it requires a bit more effort to get than water or something more healthy.
- Keep your television in the spare bedroom or somewhere other than the main family room.
- Store your coffee on the other side of the house from the kitchen. (I do this because I don’t like the smell or taste of coffee, but for people with an addiction…)
- Set your router to shut your Internet off at 10pm to help encourage you to go to bed.
David Turnbull says
This is partially one of the reasons I love the idea of vagabonding so much. Just leaving my computer behind and wandering the world would kill so many of my bad habits. And only working out of internet cafes would mean I’d have to be effective and know exactly what work I want to do – no time for procrastination. :)
Doug Ransom says
Why would anyone who carries more weight than they would prefer have soda pop in their homes at all?
Mark Shead says
@Doug – I don’t know, but it is pretty common!
Most people who carry more weight than they prefer have some foods that they have little impulse-control over. Emphasis on ‘some’, because there are usually several ‘junk’ foods that they have excellent self-discipline regarding.
I am overweight and trying to lose. I keep 7-Up and Root Beer in my basement, and because they are out of sight and take more work to get to, I end up drinking about one 16-oz bottle per month, as a treat. On the other hand, I don’t bring Dr. Pepper or doughnuts into the house. I have difficulty moderating my consumption of those items.
Armen Shirvanian says
Although my diet has always been in good shape, I can agree with #4 there because outside influencing factors like that can do a lot. Sometimes I have set an alarm clock to ring at a certain hour to remind me of something, and every time it goes off, I realize how fast time has passed by. We need signals like these.
Solid examples there.
I’ve quit drinking soda pop completely. Instead, I drink green tea and a nice hot tea in the morning sets off a good mood and is incredibly cheap.
I love the cutting off the internet idea. One thing that makes me sleep late everyday is internet. Also I’m thinking of making my computer shut-off automatically after 10pm as well (using Scheduled Tasks in Windows)
This makes me think about other bad things that could be made hard. I’m starting to notice I check email too frequently when I am procrastinating about other things; a site blocker would probably help this. Keeping the cat off my desk chair became really easy when I switched from a chair to an exercise ball… :)
On the flip side, I need to make the good things easy.
Healthy eating is easy when I have bags of veggies ready to grab from the fridge. My daughter gets things put away faster when everything has a place (and they’re labeled!) Practicing music got easier when I started to leave my music out and in a ready-to-go position. Technical reading got easier to do when I stashed the book in the kitchen to read while eating.
Thanks for the thoughts. I’ll think about how to make bad things hard and good things easy!
Mark Shead says
@LJ – I would like to see televisions that are hardwired into an exercise bike. If you want to watch, you have to pedal.
Do you have any suggestions on how to keep cats from sharpening their claws on cedar beams? I just noticed ours are doing this. :)
@coconutstudio – Having your computer shut down automatically is a good idea. I wonder if it woudl be easier to focus knowing that it was going to shutdown.
Mark: sticky tape or aluminum foil. My cats hate the feel of both of those.
It never seemed to matter how easy I made it for them to scratch appropriately. They still will scratch wherever their little feline hearts desire. I’ve also had some luck covering things with balloons, but the smarter cat figured out how to detach them.
Water sprays can also work if you want to spend your time defending your beams. But as soon as your back is turned or you leave the house, they will go right back. Good luck.