Some more notes about Eating Less.
- I’m less averse to exercise than I was, and will voluntarily walk a mile or so instead of taking a bus. So far it’s always been the bus I’ve skipped in favour of walking and not the car, and it is summer. Even so, this physical habit is based on a an attitudinal change; the first time I did this recently I was attending Gillian Riley’s Eating Less course when I walked two miles on the evening of the first day. Riley doesn’t talk much about exercise, so I wasn’t doing it at her explicit behest.
- I found myself planning a smaller portion of breakfast because a smaller portion would feel better than a larger one. That is a first. Up until now limiting portion size has been a rational matter of self-awareness and self-control. This was the first time I spontaneously associated a smaller portion with a better experience.
- I weighed myself the other day. This is not necessarily a good thing because the whole emphasis of Eating Less is on dealing with one’s addiction to food – which is a life-long challenge – not on losing weight which is by definition a temporary one. Gillian Riley reports that she’s lost count of her clients who did well until they weighed themselves, but my trousers are baggier and I really wanted to know how I’m doing. It’s difficult to tell, though, because I hadn’t weighed myself for a couple of months before I went on the course. I’m nervous that I’ll lose my way, having succumbed to thinking in terms of weight lost rather than in terms of eating less.
- It’s harder when you do something for the first time since the last time. I’m wedging the tip of the chisel into the gap between the stimulus and the pavlovian or habitual response. I had a habit of eating a packet of crisps at 4:00pm, so when it was 4:00pm I’d crave a packet of crisps. The wonderful thing about pavlovian responses is that if you ignore them or sit them out, they fade. The things you did daily fade away the fastest because you get a chance to build new neural pathways every day. But if you don’t do a particular thing for a while – like eat out in a restaurant or visit your auntie – then the pavlovian responses associated with that particular activity are sitting there waiting to pounce. I knew that intellectually, but I spent the weekend doing things I hadn’t done for a while, and suddenly it was harder all over again.
- It’s possible to not order food at lunchtime in a pub if other people are eating but there’s nothing you fancy on the menu. No-one else really cares. Who’d have thought!