Over the last couple of weeks, I've been avoiding sugar. Not just avoiding eating spoon-fulls of crystal sugar, but avoiding food and drink that contains sugar.

I've thinking about reducing my sugar intake for a while now. There's been enough change in how science sees the sources of weight gain to be convincing.

But regardless, I found myself eating pie on the weekend, grab a sweet snack regularly (the perils of working from home) or regularly get a cookie or cheese cake at the coffee shop. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Of course there'd always be the convincing argument to myself that I could stop anytime I want, the classic trap of letting your irrational self get in the way of rational decisions. Just ask any smoker.

But then I came across an article that pointed to actively saying no being a possible answer. Studies showed that people who said "I don't" were much more likely to resist something than people who said "I can't."

Pretty remarkable, and I wanted to turn that into an experiment with myself.

It made me think of the day when I stopped smoking, on March 30, 1999.

All I said to myself was "I'm not smoking anymore."

I chucked my remaining cigarettes without much further thought, and that was the end of it.

The hardest part of breaking out of a habit is finding a replacement. Rather than resort to a cigarette after lunch or other meals, I went for a coffee instead.

Yes, this is how my coffee affinity started.

There's something powerful in consciously saying no. One day, I decided to just say no to sugar.

That meant cutting out delicious things like cookies, cake, pie and everything else that contains processed sugar, but it's for the good of the bigger picture. Most of these are non-essential foods.

There's no rational downside to saying no to sugar.

But the real power is in consciously saying no to something. Whether it's a habit you want to get rid of, or whether it's a feature you want to add to your product or simple deciding on what you want to do with your day, your month, your life.

Saying no to something can have an incredible effect on your conscious to actually go through with it.

Knowing what not to do can be quite liberating for your mind too. It leaves room for other, more important things to do.

Tags: justsayno