Monday, November 11, 2013

My instant gratification monkey is named Mr. Chocolate Cake

If you ask anyone what is the hardest part of losing weight, 9 times out of ten it is forcing yourself to do things you don't want to do, like exercising, choosing healthier options, and not having that second helping of your favorite food.  In other words, the number one hurdle we need to overcome in our journey to lose weight is to not procrastinate about it.  I'm going to suggest that losing weight is like carving a statue, it requires a lot of hard work and grinding, but the end product is beautiful.

Tim Urban, the author of the blog, "wait but why" wrote an AMAZING two part blog post about procrastination. You might be telling yourself that procrastination has nothing to do with the struggle to losing weight, but it has EVERYTHING to do with it.  I procrastinate about going to the gym in that I make every excuse possible not to go or exercise.  For example, I'll forget my shoes or I'll put off my school work so when Mike asks me to work out with him, I can tell him I have to much work and I'm panicking about getting it done.  Then I feel bad about myself and I tell myself next time I'll remember my shoes and I'll get all my work done.  But it's a vicious cycle that's REALLY hard to break.

In Part one, he mentions that the procrastinator shares his thoughts with an instant gratification monkey.  This monkey is cute and adorable and has us wrapped around his devious little paw.  Whenever we have to make a decision, the monkey always produces more alluring alternatives that seem so much better than the daunting task of whatever is at hand.  For example, the monkey in my head, whose name is Mr. Chocolate Cake, is a staunch believer in we deserve that piece of cake even if we just stood for an hour.  He convinces me that I totally burned enough calories "exercising" (air quotes becasue today was the first day I officially exercised) that I can have whatever I want.  He's also the voice in my head that tells me, "hey you are over your calorie limit anyways, just don't count it."  Basically Mr. Chocolate Cake is a lying son of a bitch.  When we listen to the monkey, we end up in the Dark Playground, but in this case the Dark Buffet.  The Dark Buffet is filled with everything we want to eat, but in portions that we shouldn't have.  We give in and end up just feeling bad.  I gave into the monkey quite a few times in the last few weeks, I broke down and had a soda and I also had more that I should have this weekend.  Luckily I have an ally on my side, my body.  My body had been happy about what I've been doing, so when the monkey convinced me to do things I shouldn't my body reacted VERY POORLY to these decisions.  It hurt so bad praying to the porcelain God that I have promised myself never again. 

In Part two, he offers suggestions to outwit the monkey.  The key to defeating your procrastination is to drag the mokey kicking and screaming from the Dark buffet to the Happy Buffet, full of all of the new options that you now love and manageable portions of old favorites from before.  The first step of beating procrastination is to plan.  The monkey knows you really well, and if you make big vague plans like, "I'm going to lose fifty pounds by this time next year" he will smile and pat you on the head and say "sure you are."  You need to be specific about your plan, how are you going to lose weight, what do you need to support you, what will have to happen to make the plan a reality.  the most important thing is to break it up into small manageable parts.  Once you know the parts, then you have to DO it.  This requires the most effort, because Mr. Chocolate Cake keeps reminding you how easy it use to be and you can always enact this plan later, no need to do it now.  However, losing weight is like carving a statue, it takes time and consistant effort.  If you leave your work, the rock will stay how it is, but it might erode being exposed to the elements.  Sticking to our plan is chipping away at the stone, the efforts of one day might not seem like a lot, but when our plan is complete, the rough rock is a complete statue.

I know myself and Mr. Chocolate Cake knows me as well.  I let my emotions drive my actions, if I get frustrated I tend to stop or go back to the beginning for a do-over.  That is one of the reasons why I had such a small weekly goal of -1 pound per week.  I figured this goal would be easy to accomplish and so it would motivate me to keep going.  When I gained three pounds in the first week I was devastated and Mr. Chocolate Cake waved that cake right under my nose.  Luckily, the internet provided me with information of weight fluctuation and a coworker told me that it takes 5 to six weeks for the female body to get the message.  I also don't deal well with lots of changes, so I decided to just limit my calorie intake first.  Next is figuring out an exercise schedule, but if I try to do too many things at once I get overwhelmed and that cake just teleports to my mouth.  I see that everyday I am under my calorie intake I chipping away at the raw chunk of marble that will slowly but surely become the me that I want to be.

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