Behavioral Pre-decision: The Secret to Self Control

self control

A behavioral pre-decision is a mental commitment that happens without the investment of thought. It can pertain to any area of life – financial, social, but as you can probably guess, I’m going to talk about how it pertains to health and fitness.

I make pre-decisions every day that keep me lean and fit, and I don’t invest a moment of thought in it. I make eggs or ProCakes for breakfast without fail. I have a big ass salad for lunch, and dinner is where I let my creative juices flow. I do this because:

  1. it’s easy,
  2. I generally know how many calories I’ve consumed before dinner,
  3. I’m lazy,
  4. I really like eggs, ProCakes and big ass salads.

I also pre-decide to workout 7 days a week.

To be clear, this doesn’t always happen. Typically there is at least 1 day a week where something totally annoying (like work) gets in the way, and I can’t workout, so I net out at 5 to 6 days a week, and that’s perfect for me. Because I have the consistency of working out everyday, it’s rarely something I need to talk myself into (and I know you know what I”m talking about). It’s just a thought of what my body feels like doing that day, and typically, I have that written down on my Evernote To-do list anyway.

Pre-decisions are VITAL to your fitness and fat loss goals and the most powerful way you can influence this is with grocery shopping. Every time you go to the market, you pre-decide what temptations you’ll have to contend with in a weak moment, or what healthy snacks you’ll have at hand everyday.

If you buy chips, ice cream, cookies or anything else you know will sabotage your efforts, you are consciously pre-deciding to challenge yourself in ways you know you’ll probably lose. And even if you don’t lose, you’ll mentally exhaust yourself with your internal battles every time you get the munchies.

So why go there?

If you pre-decide not to let temptation into your home, you pre-decide to win. Rarely do people leave the house just to buy junk food in a weak moment, so you’re almost guaranteeing yourself a success if you choose well when you shop.

This is why bikini and figure competitors do that whole meal prep thing where they know which piece of tupperware to open for their 3pm meal on Tuesday. It’s not necessarily a time saver, it just takes the decision (and therefore the temptation) out of having to decide what to eat in the moment, when their level of hunger might influence their choice more than what has been pre-decided and prepared for them to eat.


Pre-decision is a powerful behavior tool to use in any circumstance where you feel your self-discipline is lacking, but it’s particularly important when building the right mindset around food and health.

So if you tend to indulge in a croissant at your 10am staff meetings just because it’s there, pre-decide to only eat half your breakfast that morning and bring the other half to the meeting so you’ll have something to eat instead. Last week, I found myself face-to-face with a crazy gorgeous chocolate chunk croissant, but because I have pre-decided to stay away from sugars and grains, I kept walking (I admit, it was hard).

Now it’s your turn! Think about areas you know you can improve, and pre decide to engage differently. Let me know what you come up with!

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  1. that is the most glorious image of weekly food prep i have ever seen. drooling, actually drooling. lusting over your organization!

  2. I rarely buy sweets to keep on hand, unless I am buying one cookie or one muffin. It allows me one treat without going completely overboard. It’s a pre-decision I made years ago and have consistently stuck with. I always have other outside opportunities to indulge so it allows me some control and even flexibility.

    I like this. It speaks to the planner in me.

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