How many decisions have you made so far today?

Maybe you made the choice to get up early and feed the cat rather than listen to meowing for the next 15 minutes, sprayed dry shampoo in your hair to save time, or decided to go for a walk before work instead of waiting until the end of the day when you’ll have every excuse in the world not to do it.

And that’s all before you’ve even officially started your day.

Everyday Autopilot

Now think of all the things you do on autopilot: brush your teeth, shower, drive to work, etc.

You don’t consciously decide whether or not to brush your teeth.

You just do it.

You don’t decide to drive to work – you hop in your car and likely barely remember the trip once you arrive at work.

Autopilot takes no effort. Your brain can relax and chill while you do your thing.

When you can get your healthy eating plan and workout routine locked into autopilot the same way, it can be just as chill.

Decision Fatigue

Here’s why the autopilot strategy works and how to make weight loss and exercise no brainers.

Experts call it “decision fatigue.” Studies show you’re more likely to make poor decisions after you’ve made many prior decisions without a break.

Reportedly, it’s the same reason why many high-level executives stick with only a handful of basic wardrobe colors. It saves decision-making time in the morning when bigger, more important decisions loom ahead.

Same deal with buying or leasing a car. It’s never less than a five- or six-hour, torturous ordeal involving 8000 decisions.

By the end of it, you’re ready to give up driving altogether, join the Amish, and rent a horse and buggy.

If you have to make too many decisions about your workout – where to go? what to do? which workout clothes and shoes to wear? – you’re less likely to do it.

Put those decisions on autopilot and you’ll be done with your workout with hardly a conscious decision on your part.

Narrowing down my decisions to virtually nil is a huge reason I’ve managed to be consistent with my own workouts for more than 40 years. I’ve set up many “no-brainer” options.

I don’t “decide” whether or not to workout; I just know that six out of seven days I’m doing something, and I need to get ready.

Here are 7 things I do to take away decision fatigue for me – maybe they’ll work for you, too.

  • Set up your coffee maker’s timer to go off right before your alarm. The aroma of freshly-brewed coffee makes getting up a no-brainer.
  • If you plan on going out for a walk or run, put your running shoes near the front door, ready to go.
  • Going to the gym? Lay out your clothes, socks, fitness shoes, etc. the night before – or wear your workout clothes to bed if they’re comfy enough.
  • Make a pact to meet a friend the next morning. I often email someone to meet me at the gym. Who wants to let down a friend?
  • If working out at home, have the DVD cued up, your mat and any equipment in front of the TV, ready to go.
  • If you plan to take a yoga class after work, pack your workout bag the night before and stick it in the trunk of your car. This saves you from coming home first, where the couch beckons.
  • At home, keep out small equipment as reminders to get in a quick set of biceps curls, lunges, or squats while making dinner or watching TV. Hang fitness tubing over a door handle or keep small dumbbells in plain sight. Keep a yoga mat tucked next to the couch to stretch out during commercials.

You get the idea.

A quick tip on decision-free snacking:

For no-brainer snacks, keep bowls of fresh fruit and cut-up veggies in clear bowls in the refrigerator or on the countertop so you reach for those instead of chocolate and ice cream… which are safely tucked away in your grocer’s freezer, anyway, right?

My most delicious tip is this: Have a ready-made quick breakfast handy – 1/2 banana or an apple + peanut butter, protein drink or half a protein bar.

You can also prepare an overnight oatmeal breakfast such as this favorite of mine:

Overnight Oatmeal and Berries Recipe

Ingredients

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup skim milk

1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/2 cup mashed fresh or frozen berries

Honey to taste

Directions

Place the oats in the bottom of a large glass or mason jar and add the milk, yogurt, and protein powder. Cover securely and shake to combine. Stir in the fruit and refrigerate overnight.

For tons of more great tips and insight into getting fit after 60, check out my FREE ongoing workshop, How to Firm Up After 50.

How do YOU save decision-making in your day? Will you try these tips to get more movement in your days? Please join the conversation!

Let's Have a Conversation!