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Monday, August 1, 2011

There's no such thing as failure, there are only results

OK, I might as well just get the horror story out the way up front:

Scene: Family function - 1 year old birthday party / weekend away
Result: 12 "treats", 2,853 calories over the day, 190g carbs
and that was just the Saturday.

The extraordinary thing is, I did actually hold myself back - not necessarily a great deal, but I did actually turn food down, eg I didn't eat any potato chips, or any of the large cupcakes (as opposed to the small cupcakes of which I ate only one).  What this means is that in the past I would have eaten even more. 

On the Sunday, I tried to tell myself it wasn't a treat day, so no leftover cake for me.  I managed to get through morning tea by waiting ten minutes for a cup cake, by which time, I didn't feel like one anymore.  However, at lunch, I dived into the chocolate ripple cake like there was no tomorrow.

Coincidentally, I have been reading a book on influence (Influence: The Psychology of Persuastion by Robert B. Cialdini) which I think touches on part of the problem with these types of situations for dieters - we (humans) have an automatic emotional reaction to scarcity which makes you want the scarce item far more than you would if it was widely available and this reaction actually prevents you thinking rationally.  Note, the book doesn't talk about dieting, this is just my extrapolation given I read the chapter the day after I ate 2.4 times my usual calorie intake.

To counteract the emotional reaction to scarcity, the book recommends:
  • recognising the feeling as a standard reaction to a scarce item and a warning sign to proceed with caution
  • realising that it is your desire for the food that has changed not the food itself (the book discusses an experiment in which people, who were made to believe that a set of cookies were scarce, rated their desire to have the cookies as higher, but did not rate the taste any better than people who were just given the cookies without any suggestion that they were scarce)
  • considering what it is that you want from the item - I think part of the reason I have trouble resisting temptation at family functions is that food offers not just a pleasant taste, but a shared experience and rapport building, which can be useful when you can't remember the names of half the people there but feel that you should because you (only) see them a couple of times a year at similar family functions.


Stuck to my diet fully Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Said no to a free muffin on Friday
Actual did some exercise on Sunday

Areas for Development

... are many and varied.
Need to get the exercise happening
Did not get to bed on time other than on Saturday night (mainly as a result of three glasses of red wine)
Over did the treats on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday was out of control and Sunday (not a treat day).

Refinement of strategies going forward

  • lights out at 10:30pm no matter what (this week have come up with a wonderful array of excuses, all of which lead me to being up too late and not getting up the next morning, thereby having a flow-on effect of not getting my morning walk)
  • get up when the alarm goes off (I am not a morning person, but history has proven to me that this is the only strategy that works)
  • when going to a business lunch with a set menu, only eat half the desert (I know I don't have the willpower to eat no dessert, so this is a stepping stone to building up my willpower)
  • when going to a business lunch without a set menu, don't knowingly order a dish that comes with food I shouldn't eat (Friday I ordered duck with rice, thinking "well, I just won't eat the rice", however that was the sum total of the dish - duck and rice, I was starving, so I ate the rice)
  • develop a strategy for dealing with family functions - I'm thinking something along the lines of bring a dish with me, eg a fruit platter, and go in armed with alternative strategies for "working the room" other than "ooh, these cup cakes are nice".

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