Bad news, guys and gals (mostly gals) who think you can do it all and either stay slim or lose weight this year. Your willpower to resist tempting, fatty foods diminshes to practically nothing when your brain is tired or when you are preoccupied with other tasks.
Sound familiar to you who work through lunch and order a sandwich and chips thinking you’ll only eat half the bag? How about the morning meeting where coffee and pastries are offered? You’ll only have coffee, right? Chances are, at that time of day, you probably will be able to resist the pastry, but an afternoon meeting with cookies and soda? Forget it! Tie on the feedbag and chow down!
The recession has been a good thing in terms of food offerings for meetings, I know the abundance and variety of snacks offered decreased considerably in my three years of hell–I mean in management. I did note unfortunately, that it was the fruit salad that took the hit, not the trans-fat loaded cookies.
Creating your New Year’s resolutions is easy, here’s a typical list:
1. Lose 10 to 20 pounds by eating healthy. You know that’s not specific enough so you add: Eating healthy means salads and vegetables, skinless chicken, fish…you get bored so you start slashing the fun stuff NO MORE SODA, CHIPS, CANDY OR COOKIES. AND DRINK ON THE WEEKENDS ONLY!!!
2. Exercise more. Specific! You know you won’t do it with that lame statement. Go to the place where you pay a rediculous monthy fee (for not attending) at least three times per week. Good!
That’s is for your New Year’s resolutions because last year you made ten very specific and apparently impossible ones and you gained a pound of solid fat for each resolution.
The part of your brain helped you sort out those reasonable-to-you resolutions is the very advanced but apparently very weak part of your brain–your willpower. While these resolutions are fresh and a priority, you will pay attentions to them and chances are for the first few days of January, you might make some temporary changes. But if your resolutions had anything to do with resisting fattening, sweet, “forbidden” foods, you are in for disappointment.
The busier you are, especially if you are filling your brain with things that don’t particularly engage you but must be done– like work, the less likely you are to make a reasonable decision about food choice. Willpower is apparently a “weak” muscle in the brain, it’s easily overmuscled, bullied by other brain activities like concentration and short-term memory. So things like a working lunch is another word for sabatoge for your well-intentioned plan to eat healthier and lose weight in 2010.
Fatigue has an incredible influence on willpower as well. Think about it: on January 5th you ate a bowl of Special K with skim milk, coffee with Splenda, brought your water bottle to work, took the stairs all day, ate a salad with 2 pieces of skinless chicken breast and fat-free dressing for lunch, had a fat-free yogurt in the afternoon, sat through your division 2010 vision meeting from 2:30 to 5 and didn’t eat any of the cookies or take a Coke although you were dying to, finished work by 6:30 so you didn’t go to the gym, went home and ate an entire frozen pizza, drank the two Bud lights you were saving for the weekend, finished off the ice cream and ended your day by falling asleep in front of the television after emptying the bag of Kettle chips. When you woke up late (because you had resolved to walk on the mornings after you missed the gym) on January 6th, you decided you’ve broken all your resolutions and returned to your routine of grabbing a large Dunkin Donuts with cream and sugar and a fat-free (800 calorie) blueberry muffin on the way to work…and the cycle continues thorugh to 2011 when you have 30 pounds to lose. Argh!
Multi-tasking has become a way of life, and it’s a business fact that if you aren’t doing at least two things at once, you are wasting time. This dogma doesn’t just pertain to the overworked manager, it’s everyone. Talking or texting while doing anything is a lifestyle and part of our culture. But believe me, you pay not one ounce of attention to what you are eating or how much you consume while you are engaged on your cell phone, texting, tweeting, social networking, looking over spreadsheets, etc. It takes fifteen minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s full. Hey! That’s fifteen minutes of mindless eating! You can plow through a row of Oreos in that time! It’s not just the working lunch, it’s everything we do today.
Look at your children! You’ve shoved a cell phone at them by the time they are 8 because you must know they are safe but what are they doing with it? Not calling or texting you every 10 minutes to tell you how safe they are, that’s for sure. They’re texting and talking to friends, constantly distracted while doing exactly what you do: mindlessly munching on emotionally satisfying, fatty, salty, sugary food.
Resolutions that have to do with willpower, which have to do with decisions about what you put in your mouth and what you do with your body must be about building your willpower, not about the food or exercise. Success in that endeavor means your will power is the focus of your attention. It can’t be in the background while you busy yourself with your electronic digital gadgets, computer, work, cellphone. And while you’re concentrating on building your intestinal fortitude and strength in commitment (willpower), take that stupid cell phone away from your kid, he or she really doesn’t need it.