Remember To Remind Me

by DavalosMcCormack on December 8, 2008

Growing up in England and Ireland I found American TV very peculiar. Every show that involved kids, say “Lassie” (boy does that date me!) also seemed to involve things called “chores”.

No kid in England or Ireland had chores. Yet every episode, in between rescuing people who had fallen down wells, Timmie and Lassie would take out the garbage, mow the lawn, clean the gutters and empty mad Aunt Bessie’s colostomy bag (you didn’t see that episode, oh man it was the best)

But doing these chores seemed to require the TV mum to constantly ask “have you taken out the trash” “have you degrouted the bathroom”. I used to think, ‘boy, what a nag’.

But now I realise that without the constant reminders little Timmie would do what the rest of adolescent males do, nothing. As a result the house would become a festering pile of unemptied trash, rats and cockroaches would run rampant and mad Aunt Bessie would be stinking up a storm.

None of which makes for a good TV show in the 50’s. It makes for a lucrative Seth Rogen or Adam Sandler movie today.. but that’s another story.

Anyway, I was reminded of those constant reminders when our IT guru put a sticker on every computer saying “Think Green Before Printing”. It’s a simple concept. Every time you are thinking about printing a piece of paper, stop to think if you need to do that.

A lot of times you realise you don’t need to. You can switch from one screen to another to create a new document. You don’t need to print stuff up to have it in front of you. It takes a little getting used to but not much. And you save a ton of paper.

Now the beauty of that idea is that it doesn’t just apply to environmental awareness. It applies to health and fitness too. There are a number of studies that show that having little reminders throughout the day can help you stay on track.

Last month, a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that teens who used text messaging to help them eat a healthier diet and avoid crappy foods, lost more weight than kids using more standard methods.

The key was that the children had to text in what they were doing during the day. When they did that the message went to their parent who texted back words of encouragement. It all helped keep the teens focused on their goals.

The same is true of other activities. If you have an exercise buddy, a friend whom you go walking/running/swimming/anythinging with on a regular basis. They help remind you that it’s time to get out of bed, it’s time to go for a run.

Now, you may not want to get out of bed or go for a run any more than Timmie wanted to take out the garbage, but it becomes a routine and the reminders help you stick with it. You don’t enjoy it, but you do it and you just get used to it.

And that is the secret to a lifelong habit of exercising well and eating well. It becomes something you do without you having to fight against it.

In fact, you find that after a while if you stop doing those things you miss it. Well, OK, you don’t miss the running/jumping etc or eating broccoli but you miss the feeling of feeling healthy and well and energetic.

It’s a funny thing. But it’s also quite lovely. That’s when you realize you have created a habit that is going to last you a lifetime.

So find a way to build reminders into your life. It may be something as simple as a note on the fridge asking “Do you really want ice cream?” to make you stop and think about what you want to eat.

It may be something as simple as a note on the door that you see every time you leave home asking “What exercise are you going to get today?”

It may even be something as simple as a daily online reminder that you program your computer to send (it’s not that difficult – if I can do it anyone can) asking if you are going to the gym etc.

These are just simple prompts to help make you think about what you are doing, to help make you aware of your actions.

It may not make for a good TV show, but when you think about it, “Lassie” was pretty stupid anyway. I mean, how many times does someone have to fall down the friggin’ well before Timmie and his family get sued and learn they need to board it up.

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