Have you struggled with managing your weight most of your adult life? If the answer is “yes”, it might be time to get honest with yourself and have a look at some of your actions that are leading to being overweight or obese. Take a “fly on the wall” view of your life and audit your behaviour. This article examines your bad habits and why they persist. Read on to find why you repeatedly do them.
First, make a candid list of all your bad eating habits. For example, not eating when hungry, eating when not hungry, eating till uncomfortably full, not eating till overly hungry, polishing off your child’s left over, eating while cooking, eating while cleaning the dishes, not eating in a designated place, heading for the refrigerator to sample bits and pieces of food after work in a mindless eating frenzy, having TV dinners (and not knowing how much you ate after), crawling into bed with a packet of chips or relaxing in your easy chair before TV with a packet of chips or generally inability to stop eating till every edible morsel on the dining table is gone.
Are you guilty of mindless munching? Do you often eat in an unconscious manner? Do you ignore the experience of eating as if it was an unquestionable reflex? Do you concentrate on other things while consuming food? If you answer ‘yes’ to any two questions, you are guilty of mindless unconscious eating and this is costing you. The result is gradual but uncontrollable weight gain. Along the way you might have felt helpless to make a difference to what is happening to your body that is gaining momentum. This is because most of your actions are hidden in your blind spots. Then one day you wake up to the realisation that you have put on 15-25% of your body weight over a few years. Now, what you have inadvertently done is you have put your body under severe stress and caused some irreversible damage to your system. Be warned, this is not a situation be taken lightly, it has severe health implications. You are well on your way to developing a host of chronic degenerative diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Being visually unappealing should be the LEAST of your concerns (ironically, this tends to be the greatest concern for most).
This brings us to the key question – why do you keep doing something that you want to stop? Surely no sane person will deliberately keep behaving in a way that generates results they do not want or keep them getting the results they do want with every fibre of their being! The answer lies in the power of payoff. Choose the behaviour, choose the consequence.
I assert that you will not maintain any behaviour that is not providing you with some kind of payoff. Consider that you are committed to repeating some behaviour because at some level they are working for you! No pay off, no repetition. So this begs the question – what value are you getting out of your troublesome behaviour? Put pen to paper, dig deep down, roll up your sleeves, get real dirty and list the payoffs that are keeping these negative behaviour alive.
Examples of payoffs are:
- Relaxing feeling – you feel relaxed after a binge because your body chemistry literally alters and gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling from the chemicals (endorphins) that are manufactured post feeding frenzy.
- Hedonistic – seeking pleasure while avoiding short term pain.
- Emotional relief – eating is a way of coping with mood swings from stressful life situations.
- Reward – life is short, enjoy first. There are lots of ways to reward yourself, food is but one of the hundreds of ways.
- Protection – being fat makes you unattractive to the opposite sex; you may be uncomfortable with intimacy. Being obese spares you from the ordeal of dating, marriage and having a family. It offers you an excellent excuse for not participating in life.
- Belonging – you are part of a social circle that meets to eat. You have no choice in the matter; you want to keep your friends.
- Immediate gratification – it feels good to eat right now, you will deal with the other issues tomorrow.
I would love to hear some of your payoffs. Post below to share them.