It’s allergy season, the time of year when I go from being reasonably a disciplined person and instead become an excuse machine. This allergy season the article, 5 Steps to Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food, keeps whispering to me.
The article begins:
"Why is it so hard to stick to a healthy eating plan and a reasonable exercise regimen?"
"From the viewpoint of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the reason isn’t hard to find: knowing what to do and knowing how to get yourself to do it are entirely separate skills. When it comes to changing behavior, especially long-term, habitual patterns, getting yourself to do something different, even when you know it’s good for you, depends largely on what you tell yourself: that is, on your thinking."
What kind of thinking leads to overeating?
"let’s say you’re at a dessert party and see five really delicious pastries. Will you end up eating too much? You probably will if you think, I don’t care. I don’t want to deprive myself. It isn’t fair that everyone else gets to eat whatever they want, and I have to settle for one small piece. By contrast, if you say to yourself, "I’m going to pick my favorite dessert. I’ll eat one small piece slowly and enjoy every bite. I know I’m going to feel so proud of myself," you stand a much better chance of not overeating."
The article explains in step-by step detail how first changing your own thinking patterns helps you to make lasting changes. It’s worth reading the whole piece.
Instead of overeating, my weakness is my complete unconditional love of serial dramas on TV. While the article focuses on how to use CBT to help change eating habits, the technique is useful for changing any habits. After reading this article I realized how often I’m able to convince myself that it’s okay to read or watch TV during my writing time in allergy season. The conversation in my head goes something like this:
Allergy season is so hard. I feel horrible and can’t think. I should give myself a break and watch an episode of The Vampire Diaries instead of writing my own story. After all, the writers of that show are excellent at plotting, so watching an episode is sort of like studying plot, which is almost the same as writing, so watching an episode should totally count as writing. Right? Watching 5 episodes is probably five times as good. Okay, I"m convinced.
Is it bad that the fact that this type of thinking seems a lot like Damon compelling someone with his amusing vampire powers makes the excuses appeal to me even more?
Conclusion: CBT is a lot like Vervain and can totally protect you from vampires who are trying to get you to overeat or convince you not to write.
PS – I’ll be writing a review of seasons 1 & 2 of The Vampire Diaries as soon as season 2 is complete. See, I’m writing a review. I’m practically cured already.
PPS – The last couple days have actually been really good allergy-wise, which made writing this post and avoiding episode 2.19 of The Vampire Diaries much easier.