Overcoming Decision Fatigue: 5 Powerful Steps to Optimize Your Fitness and Nutrition Choices

by Aimee Wojtowecz

I know how important it is to make good decisions about what you eat and how you exercise, it’s my job! However, is it really that simple? There’s a phenomenon called decision fatigue that can make it difficult to make good choices, both in and out of the gym. In this blog post, I’ll explain what decision fatigue is and how it can affect your performance, as well as give you five steps you can take to mitigate it.

What is decision fatigue?

Decision fatigue is the concept that making too many decisions can wear down your ability to make good choices. As you go through your day, you make countless decisions, from what to wear and what to eat, to what tasks to prioritize at work, how to get your kids to practice etc…. All these decisions can deplete your mental resources, making it harder to make good choices as the day goes on.

How does decision fatigue affect your performance?

The effects of decision fatigue on your fitness and nutrition choices can be particularly significant. When you’re faced with a lot of decisions throughout the day, it can be challenging to maintain the mental energy needed to make good choices about what you eat and how you exercise. For example, you might find that you’re more likely to choose fast food or junk food options for meals because you don’t have the energy to think through healthier choices. This can lead to poor nutrition choices that can have negative effects on your health and fitness goals.

Additionally, decision fatigue can make it harder to motivate yourself to exercise. After a long day of making decisions, the thought of making another choice about whether or not to go to the gym or what to do when you get there can be overwhelming. You may find yourself more likely to skip workouts because you don’t have the mental energy to make the decision to go or what to do. Over time, this can lead to a decrease in physical activity, which as I’m sure you can guess can also have negative effects on your health and fitness.

What are some steps that you can use to mitigate decision fatigue and make the option that meets your goals the easier option for you?

  1. Plan ahead: One of the best ways to reduce decision fatigue is to plan ahead. Set aside some time each week to plan your meals and workouts, so you don’t have to make those decisions on the fly. This can help you make healthier choices because you’ve already decided what you’re going to do.
  2. Simplify your choices: You can also reduce decision fatigue by simplifying your choices. For example, if you’re trying to decide what to eat, limit your options to a few healthy choices that you enjoy. This can make it easier to choose a healthy meal, even when you’re feeling mentally drained.
  3. Take breaks: Another way to mitigate decision fatigue is to take breaks throughout the day. Give yourself time to recharge by taking a walk, meditating, or doing something else that relaxes you. This can help you make better decisions when it comes to your fitness and nutrition goals.
  4. Use routines: Establishing routines can also help reduce decision fatigue. If you have a set routine for your workouts or meals, you don’t have to spend mental energy making decisions about what to do. It might not be fun or cool to eat the same things every day BUT this can free up mental resources for other decisions you need to make throughout the day.
  5. Outsource decisions: Finally, you can alleviate decision fatigue by outsourcing some decisions to someone else. For example, you could hire a personal trainer to create a workout plan for you, or use a meal delivery service that provides healthy meals for you. This can take the decision-making burden off of you, so you can focus on other things.

Decision fatigue can be a real obstacle to making good choices when it comes to your fitness and nutrition goals. However, by planning ahead, simplifying your choices, taking breaks, using routines, and outsourcing decisions, you can lessen the effects of decision fatigue and make better choices throughout your day.