time off for good behavior

time off for good behavior

Let’s talk about the next installment in the “watch your language” project: time off for good behavior.

That phrase usually conjures up visions of getting out of prison early as a reward for behaving well.

And it’s one many of us can relate to when the weekend, vacation, or holidays are upon us.

You have been so. good. for. so. long. You deserve a break today, right?

(Nope, not there. You know better than to hit the drive-through, right? Well, most of the time you do. But you’ve been so. good. for. so. long….)

it’s all about the preposition

We had a family friend from Cuba who just couldn’t get a handle on the usage of English prepositions. It made for good running jokes.

And think about it: what exactly does “for” mean?

  • You can take time off for taking care of some personal business. So the action of the of the verb after “for” comes after the action before it. (And yes, you might very well say “to take care of some personal business. Don’t quibble.)
  • You can get a reward for doing something. So the action of the verb after “for” comes before the action before it.

“For” means two very different things here (in fact, kinda opposite): “for the purpose of” and “because of.”

good behavior

Going to make a small detour here to talk about “good behavior.” Because it’s my blog and I can detour all I want.

Often on our health journeys, we think about “good behavior” as a chore. It’s a burden to “be good” all the time.

No wonder we want to “be bad” once in awhile! “Being bad” is more fun. It’s easier, right?

At Growing Great, a SoCal nonprofit where I once upon a time taught nutrition to elementary school kids, one of our principles was that we didn’t refer to food as “good” or “bad;” instead, food is “a better choice” or “a worse choice.”

For those of us who are uncomfortable with ambiguity, that might open a whole can of worms. Better and worse are in that icky gray area. Good and bad are so much cleaner.

So the first mindset shift I’d like to suggest is from “good behavior” and “being good” to “making better choices.” In the Integrative Nutrition® world, we ask clients to make better choices—and only 50% of the time for starters!

That may seem soft in our “just do it” culture that encourages us to “do hard things” and “push through.” Because “no pain, no gain,” right?

Let me simply ask: how is that working out for you so far, being 100% good all week, then 100% bad all weekend?

time off for

In addition to thinking about “making the better choice 50% of the time,” I also invite you to reframe the “time off for” to the sense that you now have time off to do the things that might feel more difficult when you’re crazy busy.

Think of weekends, vacations, and holidays as time to implement new habits that you can gradually integrate into your everyday life: make better food choices, move more, go to sleep earlier and sleep longer, drink more water and less alcohol, spend less time watching trash TV and more time with loved ones—whether they’re 2- or 4-legged.

And remember, the goal of your time off is to find ways to make the better choices more accessible during the times when you don’t have, well, time.

Meal prep, cleaning the house, doing yardwork—yes, they’re chores. And they can also be a form of satisfying soul care: you’re taking time to set yourself up for success when you don’t have time.

Because the better choice has got to be the easy choice, or we won’t make it in the moment.

reframe “time off for good behavior”

When you hear me say, “time off for good behavior,” I really mean, “time for making better choices.”

I often hear clients tell me that they dread not being on a schedule, not having the structure of a school or work week. And most of them have come to embrace the idea of being unscheduled as a time for making better choices—and with great success.

When they’re making good progress toward their health goals, many clients dread the holidays and vacations the most: being unscheduled and stressed out by the demands of travel/time with difficult family members is a double whammy that can tip them right over the edge into making one not-so-good choice after another.

And many, many of them think that taking a health journey with a coach is something to complete before the holidays or start after they holidays, when in fact, the opposite is true:

  • If you rush to complete a program before a big holiday or vacation, you might go in and find you weren’t really ready to stop after all. And you might find yourself rewarding yourself for “good behavior” with the same old “bad behavior.”
  • If you wait until after the holidays to start, you’re likely really misbehaving with the idea that it’s your last chance before you have to “be good.” And you’re even further behind on your journey than you meant to be.

I love running coaching programs in the fall precisely for this reason: you learn some skills, gain some tools, then get “time off for good behavior:” time to practice your new skills, use your new tools, observe how you do, then come back to fine tune them with me for a few more weeks.

make the connection

Ready to commit to a health coaching program that takes you through the holidays? 

The Fall 2023 cohort of Stewarding Emotional Eating™ starts October 2 and runs for 13 weeks.

  • You’ll get about 7 weeks of content before we take a 1-week break for practicing your better choices over Thanksgiving.
  • We regroup for 4 weeks to talk about our experiences and learn some more skills and gain some more tools before we take a 2-week break for practicing some more good choices during the December/January holidays.
  • And then we have 2 more weeks together in January to really solidify your new skills and polish your new tools.

All that coaching and time off for vacation. And more support when you need it most—in your everyday life.

Interested? Click here for details and the application link.