I don’t know about you, but here’s what happens when I go on a diet…
I spend the entire time thinking about what I’m not eating. I devote Pinterest boards to magical fattening foods that aren’t even healthy to look at. I resent the pizza companies rude enough to actually advertise in the middle of the shows I’m watching, almost as much as I resent the shows themselves for having dinner scenes.
And no, I don’t want to hear about that great new fro-yo place that just opened up, but you better tell me all about it, especially the toppings bar.
Going on a diet is a terrible way to lose weight.
What’s wrong with your diet? It’s a mental torture that we place upon ourselves. There must be a better way.
Don’t think of a polar bear right now. Don’t imagine an iceberg floating on a moonlit sea with a happy little polar bear sitting on the top. Don’t do that.
Did you do it? Even though I told you not to?
That’s the thing about diets. They’re about this “Don’t” mentality that our rebellious brains can’t help but spite. Tell us not to want something or to do something, and that’s the thing we’re most likely to want or do. Or want to do. It’s human nature.
What if we took a mental-Judo approach? Judo is the martial art of using our attacker’s strike against them. Instead of resisting the temptation, turn the force of that temptation against itself.
Stop thinking of what you can’t have, and rejoice in all the things you can have.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Furthermore, you can’t eat your cake and have it, too, which makes more sense to me than the typical way that expression goes. My point is, you can’t eat cake if you don’t have cake to eat.
Make it hard to get the stuff that you know is bad for your health. It’s as easy as not buying potato chips, which you’re probably doing right now. You’re not buying chips right now, are you? See?
Instead, buy the stuff that’s good for you. More importantly, buy the stuff that you’ll like that’s good for you. If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you’re not going to eat them, no matter how many you bring home. But if you do some research and experiment with your daily menu, you’ll find that perfect mix of healthy and yummy.
Anyone who’s good at cheating at anything knows the best way to do it is in small increments. They don’t steal the answers to the whole test; just a few here and there. They don’t win with royal flushes for every hand. The same approach works with food.
Don’t eat a whole cheese cake and think it’s just cheating. But allow yourself a nibble here and there. It will take the edge off. Allow yourself the occasional indulgence, because otherwise you’re back in that “Don’t” frame of mind.
After all, you’re a grown up. You can do what you want. It’s just a matter of wanting what’s right for you.