Some people have asked me how I started my weight loss. My first few months in the blog archive explain it all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

You can learn a lot from a chick

The food was delicious, and I was ready to grab seconds during dinner, but the thought came to my mind (remember I had prayed for guidance)
“Are you two people?”
“No”, I thought back.
“Do you want to look like two people?”
“Um, no. . .”
“Then why would you eat two peoples food?”
“Uh, habit?”

If you go to the Spencer Kimball tower at BYU you can take an elevator to the very top floors (I think you need a key). Here they keep the chicks. I know that because I have held those chicks in my hands. These are not the co-ed kind but the kind that eat feed, peep and live in little cages. For one of my classes we were offered extra credit if we would help the graduate students train the chicks using operant conditioning. This is the use of consequences (in this case feed) to modify behavior (teach them to peck a button). One teacher told how he conditioned a girlfriend to come and clean his kitchen. (Beware of psych majors)

I know that each one of us is given free agency; I also know sometimes trained habits take away that free agency. Let’s say you want to teach me to not over-eat. First you need to figure out what the reward has been. Of course, food tastes good! I love food! Food takes me to a happy place. While I place chunky monkey ice cream in my mouth, I am completely focused on the mmmmmm. In order to go to that happy place I have conditioned myself to use food to put me there.

Second, and here is the tough part; in order to modify your eating you have to find a different reward to get the mmmmmmm (or live without the mmmmm, but who wants that?)

Surely in those days long ago when you were thin you had things that kept you busy that you enjoyed, ways you got the chunky monkey out of life. Learning, dating, dancing, driving, swimming, flirting. What was it that kept you from eating so much on your dates? Didn’t we all have better manners then? We ate slower, dressed better, flirted more and never grabbed something from the serving bowl with our fingers.

Back in the thin years I had a million ways to get the mmmmmm. When I got fat I only had food. I had a million reasons I couldn’t keep up my hobbies, most of them were my children. So I had to pick new ones.

I eat when I watch TV, I took up embroidery. It is impossible to eat and sew at the same time. I eat with the kids when they get home from school, I found the joy of bubble gum and placed it in all my kitchen drawers. I eat when I get tired. I go to bed. Find mmmmm’s not m&ms. Find things that payoff and make it impossible to eat. Can you eat French fries while on the back of a bike? Can you eat seconds while you are busy cleaning up? (Clean up immediately after finishing your plate of food – it is a bit easier to resist food that is in the garbage can).

Remember you conditioned yourself to get the habit started; you can condition yourself out of it.

If this works for you, don’t thank me, thank a chicken.


Amy said...

Here's a question I have for you. Did you change WHAT you were eating on this journey to being thin? Did you just eat less and exercise?

I love this post because it is right on the money! At my thinnest and healthiest time in my life I was dating my husband, working at a job I LOVED, participating actively in my college ward and food was not where I got my "mmmmm". I loved food but it wasn't where I found "happiness" that came in all the other packages.

That is such a good point! Thank you for showing it to me.

Calamity Jane said...

Amy, I totally changed what I was eating. When I made dinner, I started steaming squash, broccoi veggies, etc. During each meal, I filled up on whole grains, (changed to brown rice by starting with 1/2 white 1/2 brown) etc. My goal was to really feel full for the longest time that I could. I tried to figure out what was the priemium fuel for me. I never wanted to get to the point of "Im starving - feed me anything!" Stick with me, That is a future blog. I am finding that if you just try one or two things every day you will change how you look.
The biggest help was and still is prayer. Heavenly Father still wants you to have the mmmmm. He can show you what to do that works now. It is tough when you are in the trenches of motherhood to find things that are not food centered.

General Wolfe said...

Perhaps it is during this demanding time in life, raising children, that we forget to use our energy for fun and only use it for work. Then we don't have anything left to go get the mmmms that are without calories.

It is easier to say that I am so tired I am just going to sit down and eat and relax. Rather than say let's go have a good time biking or dancing.

Carrot Jello said...

darn, I made a comment then left the page without publishing it. It was good too. Sorry you missed it.

Kimberly said...

That was brilliant! I love that mental conversation you had with yourself - I'm going to memorize it and have it often. =)

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

"Heavenly Father still wants you to have the mmmmm" made me cry.

Another great post!

Marc and Megan said...

Your posts are always very motivational! I'm learning a lot and loving it! :)

Lisa said...

Having seconds is something I would like to get rid of completely in my home! Since we are only a family of 4, that is close to what the total servings are for anything I make. But when the hubby is gone, there is extra. I am talking about my kids here-not me. I just don't want that to be a habit for them when they are older because I know it is about mmmmmm. I try to suggest fruit or more veggies if they are still "hungry". It's not hunger they are satisfying, though. Very good post.

Jennifer B. said...

Great advice! (Although I'm kinda wishing I had double majored in Pyschology now. It's so nice to have someone clean up after you. Dang it!)