Blame (and change) your dinner plates

I’m sure we’ve all heard the adage before:  “your dinner plates are the same size as your grandmother’s serving platters.”  But how much has that concept really sunk in?  How have we applied that concept to other areas of our lives?  It’s one thing to think about the size of our plates.  It’s another thing to completely reconsider how various aspects of our life such as our route home from work, the organization of our house or even the size of our plates can help us be successful or make things even more difficult for us.


In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor refers to one of these ideas as the 20 second rule.  He talks about taking the batteries out of his TV remote & putting them in his bedroom so he has to walk into the bedroom, get the batteries, and put them in the remote so he can watch TV.  Most days, it was enough to keep him from turning on the TV.  Some days, when he really wanted to watch, he walked his butt into his bedroom & got the stupid batteries (and yes, I’m sure that was his internal dialogue).

Controlling the things that control us

There are so many things in our lives:  systems, tangible objects, patterns, how we organize our house or our pantry that all contribute to how we lead our lives and the decisions we make.  Just one of those is the size of our plates or where we keep the batteries for our TV remote.  So, how do we overcome our environment?  Well, we exert control over it!

Tactic 1:  Build Fences
Tactic 2:  Manage Distance
Tactic 3:  Change Cues
Tacit 4:  Engage Your Autopilot
Tacit 5:  Use Tools

It’s our house.  It’s our desk.  It’s our car.  We control it.  So let’s change it so we can be successful!

Tactic 1:  Build Fences

This is that magic 20 second rule I mentioned above.  It’s the stuff you read about where people put their chocolate on the tippy-top shelf or behind all their healthy food in the cupboard.  It’s the concept of creating boundaries that you have to intentionally cross in oder to give into temptation.  There are two rules you should use when building fences:

Rule 1: Make sure you’re the one who builds & maintains the fence.
Rule 2: Don’t use the fence in place of a six-source plan (all of the other Change Anything posts).

Here were mine when examining my critical moments:

  • I will avoid buying food that only I like that will actively tempt me when I’m trying to get to my goals.
  • I will take out the amount I want to eat in advance and put the rest of the package away so I have to get the package back out to eat more.
  • I will “fix my plate” with the amount I plan to eat so I have to physically go get more if I want more.

Tactic 2:  Manage Distance

This one is pretty straight forward like Shawn’s batteries for his TV remote:  Keep good things close & convenient, and bad things distant & difficult.  It’s the same concept behind reorganizing your cabinets or throwing out (or donating) your unhealthy foods).

Here’s what I did with this one:

  • I will wash all the apples & put them in the top drawer so they’re ready to eat when I want one.
  • I will keep a stock of protein bars & turkey jerky for quick, easy snacks.
  • If I have “tempting” food, it will be on the bottom shelf of the pantry in the back corner so I have to move several things out of the way to get to it.

Tactic 3:  Change Cues

Again, the book describes this so well that I can’t do it justice.  Change Anything:

Changing your relationship: have a pre-flight checklist for when you get home: After a stressful day, the card will remind you to pause, take four deep breaths; recall one reason why you adore your spouse; then enter the house with a smile.

Conduct a review of your home, your car, your neighborhood, and your workplace & look for places where cues would help you stay on track. Then create little reminders, not so obvious that they’re embarrassing, but obvious enough to grab your attention. Adapt your cues as your crucial moments change over time.

After reading  this one, I took a critical look at my cubicle at work.  I have a photo board that I put up on one of my walls.  I strategically swapped out some photos for ones when I was at my goal weight.  I also put up some strategically placed quotes (including my personal motivation statement).

Tactic 4:  Engage your autopilot

We all have behaviors we just default into.  This tactic can be as simple as changing out the loose change in our drawer for the protein bar we should be eating as our afternoon snack.  Or finding a water bottle design that’s easy to carry with us so we always have it.

One of the ways I’ve engaged my auto-pilot is that (assuming I’m having a good week), I log my food into MyFitnessPal in advance so that I have to go in and change my entries if I eat off plan.  Then, I just check what I’ve logged for what I should be eating.

Tactic 5:  Use Tools

Almost everyone has a smart phone these days and there are so many reminder apps and tools available.  MyFitnessPal has a great daily reminder to log in & track your food daily at a certain time.  You can also just simply use an alarm on your phone’s clock or even your watch.  We have so many tools at our fingertips through the internet & technology.  Use them!

As I’ve mentioned before, I try to log my food at the beginning of the week so all I have to do is tweak it (or nothing if I’m having a perfect day).  I also have reminders that pop up for my challenges.

Using our environment to our advantage

Knowing that we have control over our environment, how will we change what we can control?  I know I’ve already made some really minor changes (they only took me a few minutes) but I’ve seen such great results.  And this is something I never would have thought about if I hadn’t read Change Anything.


What will you change about your current work or home environment to help you be more successful?  Try it & let me know how it goes!


Wishing you an All+SUM LIFE,

7 thoughts to “Blame (and change) your dinner plates”

  1. Howdy! This post couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly
    will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a great
    read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This design is wicked! You most certainly know how to keep
    a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
    to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.

    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you
    presented it. Too cool!

  3. Greetings from Los angeⅼes! I’m bored to tears at ѡork
    so I decided to check out your blоg on my ipһone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the information you pгesent here and can’t ᴡait
    to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile ..
    I’m not even using WIFІ, just 3Ԍ .. Anyᴡays, very good blog!

  4. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit
    and sources back to your blog? My blog site is in the very same niche as yours
    and my visitors would really benefit from some of the information you provide here.

    Please let me know if this okay with you. Appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *