All sorts of factors play into our health and wellness goals, and one of the most influential is our environment. We receive cues from our surroundings that have the potential to trigger automatic behaviors that may lead us astray in our quest for improved health.
When we consider our environment, we primarily think of our homes, offices, and the places where we socialize. What we sometimes overlook is our car. According to the Washington Post, the average American commutes 26 minutes one way to work each day, plus the time spent running errands and traveling for leisure, the car can present both challenges and opportunities to our health journeys.
Read below for a few tips to set up your car to support you in your wellness goals:
One of the biggest obstacles to making healthy choices is crossing the line between hungry and ravenous. From this point, it is extremely difficult to make a healthy choice, and you may find yourself in line at the closest drive-thru in lieu of heading to the gym for your after work fitness class.
Make a habit out of keeping one to two healthy snack options in your car that can help you get through the post work peak hunger phase. Some of my favorites are 100 calorie LaraBars, single serve packages of heart-healthy nuts, and portable fruits such as bananas.
It’s easy to confuse hunger with thirst. Set a goal to finish a full bottle of water on your commute home from work so you’re adequately hydrated when you’re making decisions about what’s for dinner.
Keep a case of water in your trunk for those times you may forget to fill your reusable bottle on your way out. This doubles as an added bonus in the event of any weather-related emergencies that could come up.
Designate a pair of walking shoes as ones you keep in the trunk of your car so you’re always prepared to enjoy a walk on a nice day. Keep a resistance band in your back seat that you could pull out and complete some Body Basics at rest stops on long road trips. Als, make a habit of leaving a packed gym bag in your back seat so you’re ready for your workout!
Heightened emotions such as stress or irritability that you may experience sitting in traffic or from pressure at work can cloud judgment and lead to us seeking out comfort foods as a way to cope with this stress. I’m a firm believer that there is a place for everything on our healthy living plans; however, these choices are best made from a place of intentionality versus reactivity.
Get a handle on these stressful situations by having a stress relieving playlist at the ready, or completing a meditation that allows you to focus on the road while removing yourself from the emotion.
Look ahead at the restaurants available along your route and identify the “unwise, better, best” options. Take a look at the menu ahead of time and identify two healthy options to choose from when you stop for a meal. Set a movement goal for each time you stop to get gas, such as walking the parking lot of the rest stop for 5 minutes or completing 10 squats and 10 jumping jacks.
A simple visual cue such as a picture, affirmation, or quote taped to your steering wheel or dashboard can serve as a reminder of the rewards that lay ahead for each health supporting choice that you make. This can assist you with impulse control and bring mindfulness to your choices.