Human psychology is endlessly productive of quandaries to mull over. The mind is incredibly powerful, and that power can be used for good or ill. The mind can be best friend or worst enemy. Rob Lawson, who has a YouTube series on basic nutrition for athletes, offers some interesting insights like this one:
It takes the same amount of effort to eat Oreos everyday as it does to eat vegetables every day. You just have to do it consistently and once you do it consistently, it becomes a habit.
Lawson has a lot to say about habit and the role it plays in the first stage of a person’s self-improvement journey. When someone sets out to make major dietary changes, the first two or three weeks are crucial. There may be a certain amount of white-knuckling, a bit of teeth-clenching, but it is a phase and it will end.
The eating program he recommends to clients is “good at getting people more on a habit-based approach to thinking, as opposed to being super specific.” Then he goes on to say:
I think the super specific approach works one you have those habits in place… Pretty much it’s all mental after you get the nuts and bolts of progression locked down.
Lawson does not subscribe to the idea that certain problem foods simply have to be abandoned, which of course is one of Dr. Pretlow’s W8Loss2Go principles. On the other hand, Lawson’s clients are hyper-fit, elite athletes; whereas Dr. Pretlow’s patients are obese young people. The cases are not uniformly parallel.
Still, all humans share one thing in common, which is that the mind can become an obstruction. Lawson warns against the overuse of it, to the point of paralysis by information:
[…] they’re researching, reading forums, they’re spending all this mental real estate sucking up information, but they’re not doing anything with it, and they’re not getting the results, and it hurts them and makes them less likely to pursue it. The fact is, they’re not doing anything at all, they’re just constantly taking in info without execution.
Which brings us back, as so many things do, to the point made over and over again by the young people who correspond with Dr. Pretlow’s Weigh2Rock website. They have enough information. They know what they have to do. But something stands between the knowledge and the doing. Largely, that something is the inability to resist cravings. Resistance skills are vital.
One thing that Dr. Pretlow has identified as a challenge, in the W8Loss2Go studies, is that stressed and depressed kids are quite unwilling to give up eating as a coping mechanism. It works very well for them, and has worked well in the past, so the temptation to stick with it is strong.
When the mind is acting like a bad friend, one strategy to defeat it is to recruit the body. “The devil makes work for idle hands” is a corny but true old saying. So give the hands something to do besides open a pack of snacks. Better yet, employ the legs — and no, not to walk to the convenience store. Legs can take a person to a lot of other places.
Here is a very useful resource. Check out Page 9 of “Addiction Model Intervention for Obesity in Young People,” by Dr. Pretlow and Carol M. Stock, JD, MSN, for a comprehensive list of things to do, other than eat.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!