In yesterday’s Laudable Loser interview, Ralph Reinhart said that knowing he can eat regular meals every seventh day helps him stick to his diet the rest of the week.
I call that the long view. It’s a pattern that’s shown up in several “Normal People” interviews — Faith Van Gilder and Mitch Harper, for instance, both talk about following up an indulgence with several days of lighter eating — and I think it’s a critical skill to develop if you want to control your eating.
In Ralph’s case, the long view is looking forward, to delayed gratification — the exact opposite of what advertisers want you to do. In Faith and Mitch’s case, they’re compensating for past actions. In both cases, though, eating choices on any given day are made according to how they fit into the larger pattern of the week.
My best example of the difference the long view makes:
I’d assumed the day I ran my first mini-marathon would be a day of guilt-free feasting. I was planning to stop by two birthday parties that day, and I figured I ought to be able to eat cake at both of them. Running 13 miles burns a minimum of 1,300 calories, which buys you a lot of maneuvering room, right?
But by the time the big day rolled around, my food log showed that I was at my limit in Weight Watchers points for the week. Not only that, my weekly mileage total was low — enough so that those 13 miles, despite being an insane amount for a single day, would only put me into the average range for the week.
A third critical factor: My weight had been up a couple of pounds the previous day.
Viewing race day as a day unto itself, I could’ve eaten as much as I wanted and still come out ahead. But taking all three of those variables into account — and seeing how they fit into the larger pattern of the week — I realized I didn’t really have room for cake.
Taking the long view likely saved me from the ridiculous prospect of gaining weight in a week in which I ran a mini-marathon.
Does anybody have any other examples of how taking the long view has worked out for you? If so, I‘d love to hear about it. Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply drop a comment in under this post.