There is no question that our physical environment directly influences the choices we make, the actions we take, and the habits we adopt. Think about your local grocery store and how the check-out aisle is designed to take advantage of impulse buys with candy and chips deliberately placed at eye level as you wait to pay. Or consider the availability of walking and biking paths in your neighborhood designed to increase physical activity by making it more accessible and appealing. The personal spaces in your home are also an important part of your environment that impacts your behaviors. You can design your personal environment so that it supports your health and wellness goals.

Let’s look at an example of a Kurbo family that I worked with several years ago. A month into the Kurbo program, the family was frustrated with their lack of progress. One of their biggest obstacles was preparing healthy meals at home. They were eating a lot of take out and fast food and recognized that this was a big source of red lights. The abundance of red lights was making it hard for the whole family to achieve a healthier weight. One day, we decided to focus our coaching session on the barriers that were preventing the family from preparing healthy foods at home. I quickly realized that their home environment was creating the obstacles. Their kitchen table was covered in junk mail and papers that hadn’t been sorted. The counters and stove top were cluttered with dishes and food containers. There was no room to cook a meal or sit down and enjoy it. We went to work. Within weeks of clearing out all of the papers and reorganizing the kitchen, the family had the space to prepare and cook healthy meals. They started cooking more at home and even admitted that they were enjoying each other’s company during meal times around the table. A cascade of healthy habits were activated by designing their home environment in a way that supported their ability to reach their health goals.

When considering your health and wellness goals, is your home environment set up to help you succeed? Let’s look at the potential spaces in your home that can be redesigned to support healthy habits.

Home living areas

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it hard to relax or enjoy a meal as a family because of all the clutter on the kitchen table, or the countertops or the sofa?
  • Are you eating out because the living area is more of a storage area?

Action:

  1. Commit to a clean dining table and clutter free couch that is inviting to sit and relax. Add flowers or candles to enhance the welcoming feeling.
  2. Make a plan to eat together as a family a least a few times a week. (It doesn’t have to be dinner if your schedules don’t allow it!) – and make family meal-time a device and TV-free zone!

Bedrooms

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you making enough space in your evening to wind down, unplug, and prepare for sleep?
  • Is your phone by your bed or the TV constantly on?
    • Smart devices keep you stimulated so that your brain doesn’t want to shut off for sleep and TV’s can distract you from getting to bed on time

Action:

  1. Make room for your brain to rest. Keep all smartphones and tablets out of the bedroom. Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before lights out to make it easier to fall asleep.
  2. Create a night-time ritual that reminds your mind and body that you are getting ready for sleep such as reading a book, saying a prayer or affirmation, or brushing your teeth and picking out your outfit for the next day.

Kitchen

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there space to cook in the kitchen?
  • Are the cupboards and the refrigerator organized so you can see what you have?
  • Are the red light foods out of sight? Do the green light foods have a special space that allows them to be visible on the counter and in the fridge?

Action:

  1. Take a weekend afternoon to toss out any foods that are not supporting your health, rearrange the fridge so the kids can easily see and grab the green lights, and reorganize spice cabinets and the pantry to be red light free.  
  2. Find a space for papers, books, or electronics that do not belong in the kitchen so you have a clutter free cooking zone.
  3. Set aside one day a month to clear out the fridge and pantry of old leftovers, expired products or red lights that have found their way back into the house.

When was the last time you thought about creating a healthy environment in your home to help you and your family achieve better health? You might be surprised at how small changes to your typical routines and physical environment can motivate you to make healthier choices and achieve success with your health and wellness goals.