THE BLOG
11/30/2012 11:06 am ET Updated Jan 30, 2013

Making Healthy Choices in Front of the TV: It's Possible!

Last week we talked about how TV can deter you from making healthy lifestyle changes, particularly if you're trying to eat differently. Now, let's think about what steps you can take regarding television and healthy living. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for what I'll call "fun facts." You know -- those useless factoids that make for good cocktail party chats. Well, one of my favorites has to do with lifestyle change. Researchers found that making just one positive lifestyle change often led to a significant increase in overall health. One successful lifestyle change can lead easily to others, which leads to even more, and suddenly the study's participants were much healthier!

Surprisingly, when making lifestyle changes, one of the most valuable steps a person can take involves the TV. I acknowledge it could be drastic, and could leave you feeling lonely, bored and left out. For lots of us, watching TV, particularly at night, is a routine. We have special shows we watch with our family or friends and have fun chatting about shows with colleagues the next day.

Continuing to watch television and simultaneously enjoying success in making healthy changes is certainly possible. It will, however, require introspective examination of how conscious you are when making food choices. This means that prior to turning on the television, you need to have a good, healthy meal. Being hungry and watching television is almost as bad as going to the grocery store when you're hungry. It can result in poor choices because of the power of visual, auditory and olfactory suggestion. So make sure your belly is full before turning on the TV.

My second tip is to bring a smart snack to the couch. While the healthy snack may pale in comparison to the things you see on TV, part of being successful at lifestyle change lies in being conscious. Having the healthy snack next to you will remind you that you are doing something beneficial and may help keep you on your lifestyle wagon.

If you are actually hungry, having that snack ready should stop you from venturing into the proverbial cookie jar. If you're eating simply because watching ads activated your desire to eat, then you'll be noshing on something that won't make you mad when you step on the scale the next morning.

A third tip for success is to either record your favorite shows and watch them at another time (fast-forwarding through those healthy-lifestyle-sabotaging ads), or mute the sound, get up and actually walk away the minute the ads start. Look at your clock, do jumping jacks or stretches, and return in two minutes. The ads should be ending and you'll have done something productive.

My last tip to prevent self-sabotage is to stop watching TV altogether. I alluded to this earlier in the post. It's probably the most difficult, but if you do "break up with your TV", it will definitely be rewarding. That's because, simply by turning off your TV, you may now have gained up to three hours in the day. Three hours to read. Three hours to talk to someone you love on the phone. Three hours to exercise and then take a relaxing soak in your tub. This is why the researchers found that one lifestyle change often leads to more. The better you feel, the easier it is to do a healthy task, and the new lifestyle choices build on each other. Simply turning off your television gives you the opportunity to give yourself a gift -- the gift of clarity of purpose, of vitality, and of sustained lifestyle change.

It seems to me that we rarely regret things we do. Rather, we regret things we didn't do. Turning off the TV has the potential to drastically improve your health and provide an opportunity to do those things that you'll look back on and smile about. And, if it doesn't, your shows and ads will still be there waiting for you!

For more by Wendie Trubow, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.

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