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Why Do I Do The Things That I Do?

December 26, 2009 · 14 comments

A little post-Christmas, pre-New Years reflecting:

When I make peanut butter toast for my kids I spread a very thin dollop of peanut butter on one slice of bread. When I make peanut butter toast for myself I spread as much peanut butter as my knife will hold and I slather on it two slices of bread, usually just making a sandwich out of it, maybe even slicing some bananas on to it or if I am feeling particularly rambunctious - some bacon. Why do I do that?

Sometimes when I am hungry I’ll find myself grazing in the pantry. I’ll have some crunchy chips, then contrast that with some yogurt. At some point I’ll send up with something sweet like chocolate. You would think that would be the end of it, right? Sweet to end the grazing run? But no - I’ll often start the cycle right back up with salty again. Why do I do that?

Monday’s are a great day to start a new routine. I can’t tell you how many times I have done a nice amount of exercise on a Monday, or limited my food very well on a Monday, or did just about whatever I said I was going to do each day of the week on a Monday. Yet on Tuesday I’m back to my old habits. Why do I do that?

I know there is no reason to wait until January 1st to start being healthy, that I should just start whenever it is I get to thinking that I should start. I know that I shouldn’t have a “last good meal” before starting to eat better. I know that I shouldn’t wait to start my diet until the weight loss contest at work starts. I know all these things yet I tend to do them anyway. Why do I do that?

I know that I eat too fast and that when I eat too fast I tend to eat too much. I know that buffets are terrible for me. I know that I’ll get full eating appetizers at a party yet I’ll have a full dinner anyway. Why do I do that?

I know how good I feel when I exercise, yet I don’t.

I know how good I feel when I fit into my clothes, yet I’m not doing anything about it.

I know how good it feels to have people complement me when I have lost weight, yet I can’t use that to inspire me.

I know I need to get healthy to be here for my family, yet I’m not making the changes I need to make.

Why don’t I do that?

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deek December 26, 2009 at 1:45 pm

The answer is habit and procrastination. Its tow things human beings are great at doing. You have to decide them commit to succeed and then you will succeed. There is power in a made up mind!!!

Greg December 27, 2009 at 6:43 pm

You do the things you do because our brains have been programmed like that for survival. It has to do with our inability to gauge long term costs vs. short term benefits. Yeah, that bacon double cheeseburger might take a day off your life but it tastes so damn good right now. Yes, there are long term benefits to not being obese but I’m too lazy today to run around the block.

If our brains and instincts would constantly worry about long term effect of things we would all be extinct by now. It’s all about instant gratification and instant effects. So we consciously have to force ourselves to think about the long term effects and we have to force ourselves to do what we know is the right thing even if it feels wrong or at least not as enjoyable/convenient as the other.

There is a saying about a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. It’s the same thing with the cheeseburgers. Sure I might die a couple days sooner by eating a ton of saturated fat but under the same token I might get hit by a bus tomorrow as well. So why not enjoy the cheesburger today and worry about the dying part when I get there?

It’s hard to break this habit and some just can’t. I hope you will eventually change your lifestyle but it will take effort and dedicated conscious decision making all day every day. It won’t happen mindlessly.

julie December 28, 2009 at 12:33 am

I think it’s possibly a psychological thing, you’re thinking of eating healthy as being about denial and restriction, of course you don’t want to go there. Too much all or nothing thinking? This is possibly one reason why small manageable changes are so often advocated, and tend to be more successful in the long run. Maybe you’re trying to eat too little when you “diet”, and your body rebels.

AndrewENZ December 28, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I think it is a lack of mindfulness. That is what happens to me. When I stop and think about my actions I tend to act better. When I just get in a rut and go for it then I choose badly.

Greg December 29, 2009 at 10:16 am

Lack of mindfulness = mindless.

I have read a great book called Mindless Eating. I highly recommend it. It will blow your mind just what might affect what and how much we eat. Once you start becoming more conscious about what you eat and start looking at other people around you making mindless decisions you’ll start to have a great giggle every time.

Dr. Kal December 30, 2009 at 10:37 am

Great comments by everyone.

John, your brain may need to be reprogrammed. Check out the book: I Can Make You Thin: The Revolutionary System Used by More Than 3 Million People

Steve December 30, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Those are some great questions, and ones I ask myself quite often…

…shame I don’t have the answers yet. D’oh!

Some pretty k*ckass points have been brought up in the other comments though, something to chew on for 2010.

Bobbi December 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Great blog! I do the same thing with my boys. I push the good stuff, like fruits and veggies, then I nosh on the opposite. I’ve asked myself why I do that each and every time. The only thing I can think of is that we want better for our children. But, if you look at it like that, isn’t giving them healthy parents better for them? That’s how I’m looking at it now. I have to. I don’t want to leave them before I absolutely have to!

tom January 1, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I always found it more effective to start a new routine or meal plan on a thursday or friday with lots of prep time to clean out the bad food before starting. You have more control and time on the weekends to plan your meals as opposed to being influenced by a tight schedule or co-workers that want you to have a piece of cake with everyone else. Helps you get three or four days of the new routine under your belt before facing more difficult influences.

Hanlie January 4, 2010 at 2:30 am

These are questions I have been grappling with for a long time… I really like the previous comments and they all contain a piece of the puzzle.

For me it’s been mostly about self-worth. Deep down I did not believe that I deserved to succeed. I was so invested in the message, repeated since I was a small child, that I was not good enough. That I was somehow defective. Working through this has been, and still is, a tough job, but I think I’m finally getting somewhere.

Jon Gabriel - The Gabriel Method - really helped me.

Good luck to you!

Lucy January 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I can definitely relate to this blog and this topic specifically. I have many of the same thoughts and feelings. I’m currently in the recovery process from a binge eating disorder and complusive eating. For me, it was all about “tomorrow I will…” and never just starting. Tomorrow never came. Being in a program and being prescribed a meal plan really helped me to let go of the guilt I was feeling.

Thank you for your blog. Please feel free to check out mine as well. I just started so I’m sure about it’s direction yet.

Beckie-Lynn January 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm

OMG! I wonder the same exact thing about myself. It’s frustrating. My son eats SO good because I have taught him that, but why can’t I do it myself? My son LOVES to exercise, and I do too… but I “never have time”. Oy-vey! I’m so glad I’m not alone on this. May this year be a year of CHANGE!!! :-)

Ravi February 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Hey John. I’ve had similar problems and I tried to break it down before I started a new healthy lifestyle (I stopped saying diet a long time ago). I hate to say it but somehow my fat habits just crept back into my life. After years of putting lifting weights aside for work, school and other things, it just became what I did. What helped me was looking at a picture of my thin self at night before I go to bed and as soon as I wake up. It reminds me of what I used to be and it’s a kickstart to get my ass to the gym!

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