There are people who exert willpower by sheer force.
I am not one of those people. Not eating is hard. I can decide to avoid eating something one minute, but there’s still 59 minutes left in that hour where I have the potential to fail. And a whole day is a really, really long time to be continuously successful at telling yourself no over and over and over.
The only way I can control my eating is by coming up with games and analogies – the more ridiculous, the better.
Lately, in an attempt to strengthen some good habits I’m trying to develop, I’ve been visualizing each specific behavior as a boundary – specifically, a fence wall that I must defend and maintain.
There are four fence walls I’m responsible for, and each time I successfully do the thing I’m trying to do – or successfully avoid the thing I’m trying to avoid – then I strengthen that section of fence.
If I fail, that section of fence falls apart until the next time I encounter the scenario.
I know it’s a silly, clumsy device, but for me visualizing a sturdy square pen of fence rows works better than simply keeping a list of rules in my head. If I fail, it bugs me much more to imagine one section of fence row falling into ruin than to just say, Oops, I screwed up again.
For the record, here’s the list/fence rows:
- If I pour myself one half-cup serving of Fiber One cereal, do not immediately pour a second, and then a third, serving after consuming the first one. One will suffice.
- No raw cookie dough. This used to really gross me out — until I started making only a few cookies at a time and storing the dough in the fridge for later. All of a sudden I was willing to eat a spoonful of dough. Or 2-3 spoonfuls. I had to remind myself: Raw eggs. Ewww. Gross. Yuck. Do. Not. Eat.
- Limit myself to 200-calorie postrun snacks.
- Do not eat the individual cups of flavored Greek yogurt I buy for the kids. Eat the cheaper large tub of plain nonfat Greek yogurt instead. (Except for after a run, when if I stop at the store I can buy myself not just one but TWO cups of 80-calorie Dannon Light & Fit Green yogurt.)
BTW, 37 is just a random number, But it wouldn’t surprise me if I have at least 36 other willpower/eating analogies. Makes me kind of curious to start a list…