(And What I Intend To Do About It)
My Biggest Weakness. What a catchy title eh? In truth, my biggest weakness is probably my inconsistency with writing because I want everything to perfect, which is ironic as I know an all or nothing mentality doesn’t work for fitness, so why would it work for writing? Hint: it doesn’t work, obviously.
So, here is me trying to break that habit, by examining my fitness habits for weaknesses by writing about it. I’m all about efficiency so let’s work on two problems at the same time.
I’m not perfect, and while weight loss is simple, it’s not easy. You know what else isn’t easy and is harder than weight loss? Maintaining the weight you’ve lost. I’m pretty good at this, but I could be better.
OK Get To The Point, Chuck
Over the past few months after taking up a martial art, my activity levels have been sky high and I’ve been eating lots more to keep up my energy. I’m not going to go into the details about the martial art here because it would make this way longer than it needs to be so if you are interested, ask me. Anyways, I’ve noticed that I still have been overeating at times, and I’d like to take care of that before it gets out of hand.
In reflecting on it, most of that is happening at night when trying to fit in some TV to relax. When I don’t watch TV, I have no issues. When I do, I sometimes overeat. How do I fix that? Just not watch TV? OK, I mean that’s do-able, but when I need to turn off my brain, watching a good show that I really enjoy helps me relax. Plus, I’m committed to learning how Game of Thrones ends, to see how the Syfy adaptation of The Magicians and The Expanse play out, and that finale of West World has me wanting more.
Given that I don’t plan on cutting out TV entirely, I need a plan. Let’s examine this critically using Charles Duhigg’s habit loop.
A habit consists of a cue, a reward, and a routine. The cue makes a habit happen automatically, and it can be a location, time of day, emotional state, other people, or a pattern of behaviors that trigger a routine.
For me, that cue is watching TV in the evening. Simply the act of relaxing on the couch with my feet up triggers the routine. The routine is: go into the kitchen and make a snack. Often, this snack does fit within my self-prescribed calorie goals, but I’m more concerned about the times that it doesn’t. This results in a reward. What reward was driving the habit?
Duhigg’s example in this video (below) make it seem really easy to figure out, but it’s not. It’s going to take some trial and error. Psst, don’t be afraid of failing. You win or you learn. 😉
I know that I’ve always associated eating while watching TV or movies with happy memories with loved ones that were spent doing just that. Is that what causes me to want to eat while watching something? I’m not entirely sure, but it could be related. I’m actually starting to wonder if the reward is not having idle hands.
Yeah, But How Do You Win?
For me, I see a few possible solutions here to redirect this behavior:
- Brush my teeth before I turn on the TV to make eating again in the evening undesirable. If I’m actually hungry before that, make a snack that fits with my goals and eat it at the table slowly and mindfully. Then brush my teeth before turning on the TV.
- Find a way to redirect idle hands to something else. Some ideas off of the top of my head are one of those fidget cubes (https://thefidgetcube.co) or even easier, do some yoga poses/stretches while watching TV.
- Learn knitting. This is a great idea but doesn’t really fit with the type of aesthetic I’m going for: bald, Viking-bearded swordfighter.
If you can find multiple approaches to breaking your habit loop, it can be tempting to try ALL them at once. I say that because it’s tempting for ME to want to try all of the solutions I mentioned at once…but then I’d never know which one was actually having the biggest impact.
So with that said, I’m going to try brushing my teeth before the TV is ever turned on and see how that goes. I intend to write about how it’s working in a few weeks. Yes, I realize that this doesn’t specifically address the idle hands reward; however, I’m stubborn and want to try that solution first to verify that it really is idle hands that need to be addressed.
What is a habit that you are trying to break? I’d love to help you out so let me know what it is and your ideas!