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Holt: Harnessing the power of proximity

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Proximity is both my friend and my enemy.

If I have fresh fruit and low-fat cheese at my desk, that’s what I’ll eat for an afternoon snack. But, if there are cupcakes and cookies in the building, I’m all over them.

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I get why some people choose not to keep sweets or other tempting treats in their homes – out of sight, out of mind.

For me, that only works to an extent. If I’m really craving something, I’ll find a way to get it.

Unfortunately, the idiom “When there’s a will, there’s a way” applies to self-destructive behaviors as well as constructive ones.

At the other end of the determination-weakness spectrum, I occasionally find myself mindlessly munching on food I have on hand that I know I don’t really want (I’m talking about you, stale wedding cake). I’m just eating it ’cuz it’s there.

If I’m going to eat tortilla chips with queso, fine, but I want it to be a conscious decision.

Proximity is a major player in my fitness habits, too.

I had a better track record with the gym when I lived a five-minute drive from it. Getting there is the hardest part because once you’re there, well, you’re there, and you might as well hop on the treadmill. I keep my gym shoes and a water bottle in my car for the same reason – to cut back on excuses.

With my recent wedding behind me and a move in the works, I’m hoping to once again harness the power of proximity to help me make healthier choices.

Here’s how:

  • My new apartment will be even closer to my gym. I timed it. It takes two minutes to drive there, as opposed to my current 15. Less travel time means less overall gym time and less gas mileage. If I have car problems, I can walk. I should probably walk anyway.
  • It’s also right next to a bike path and a dog park. I could easily roll out of bed in the morning and take a metabolism-awakening walk before getting ready for work. Or after work. Or on weekends. Or any time.
  • A new neighborhood means a new commute. No McDonald’s conveniently located on the way to work tempting me with its high-sugar, high-fat caramel mochas and bacon, egg and cheese biscuits.
  • This’ll be the first time I’ve had a dishwasher in a few years. I’m more likely to willingly dirty dishes making home-cooked meals if I know I don’t have to scrub each one by hand afterward.
  • New appliances and dishware provide another incentive to eating at home (read: less processed food) and packing lunches for dining al desco.

They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right?

Forum reporter Meredith Holt lost over 100 pounds between 2010 and 2012. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in Variety. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.

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Meredith Holt
Meredith Holt is a Forum features reporter who writes a twice-monthly column on body image, weight loss (and gain), health and fitness. Her topics of interest include mental health, relationships and women's issues. She also does page design and copy editing, which she did for six years prior to joining the features staff in March 2012.
(701) 241-5590
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