I’m a huge basketball fan and I’m already counting down the days until the season starts. Whether you’re into basketball or not, we can all learn from something that happens in every game…
When a player get fouled, they take foul shots. Every basketball player (if they are any good) has a foul shot routine.
Here are some examples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mttHlV1WjMk&NR=1 (Safe for work)
Every time a player is at the foul line they do their routine before each shot.
Stay with me here…
What if before we ate, we did a little pre-eating routine?
Say, for example, a deep breath.
In basketball, usually it’s a deep breath and a combination of dribbles and/or spins. Some players touch their face, others point, and some even blow a kiss.
The point is to slowwwww down. To regain some composure and to forget about the last play no matter how good or bad it was. The goal is to focus on the task at hand: making the foul shot(s).
In our case, we want to focus only on the meal or snack in front of us — no matter how good or bad the last one was — and to eat it as slowly as possible.
What if our routine was always making sure we had a glass of water, a fork and knife (if need be) and a napkin?
Some players also say something to themselves – whether it’s a mantra or an affirmation.
What if we said a little something to ourselves? How about “I love MyBodyTutor! I love MyBodyTutor!”? I kid. I kid.
But really, what if we said something?
How about, “I will eat this food slowly and I will appreciate each and every bite,” or, “Am I really hungry, or am I eating to change the way I feel?” or, “Will this food make me feel the way I really want to feel?” or, “Will this food help me become the person I want to be?”
The point is to slow down. Creating a routine like this will help us a lot.
This is also why I suggest we eat only while sitting down. Eating only when sitting down gives us a chance to pause and gather ourselves. We don’t usually bring indulgent food to the table or our desk. We’re usually eating it standing up, over the sink, in the car, or on the go.
We want to be consistent with our routine too…just like a basketball player is with their foul shot routine. A consistent routine will lead to a consistent performance, which in our case, will lead to slower and more mindful eating.
Next time we eat, let’s pretend we’re at the foul line.
What’s your routine going to be?
P.S. I know some of you may already have a pre-eating routine in which you say thanks or give blessings for your food. Even better! Could you do it for every meal/snack?
P.P.S. Let’s go Knicks!
One of the top reasons why we indulge and overeat is because we’re stressed. Stress can make us go against our best intentions.
When we fall into the habit of overeating and/or eating junk when we’re stressed, it gets easier to repeat that behavior.
One episode of afternoon stress eating can lead to a whole week of afternoon stress eating.
When our brain is under stress there is a vicious cycle that gets created. In a study of chronically stressed rats the brains atrophied in the areas of decision making, while becoming overly developed in the area of habit formation.
Scientists note that behaviors can stick more quickly in stressed animals than in the controls.
This might explain why when we’re under stress we abandon all that we know we ‘should do’, and all that we consciously want to do, and fall back into old habits. Or, maybe we can’t break the habits to begin with.
Scientists also note that we’re lousy at recognizing when our normal coping mechanisms aren’t working.
Our response is usually to do it five times more, instead of trying something new. <— aka the definition of insanity —> Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
So, even though eating indulgently doesn’t really help us deal with the source of the stress, we can’t stop ourselves from continuing to do it because we’re used to doing it when we’re stressed. It’s simply how our brains are wired to act when we’re under stress…
Although stress is a killer and can lead to many diseases it’s also necessary for us to survive.
Fortunately (I think), we no longer stress about what our ancestors did. We stress about very different things.
And even if we’re stressed out because our boss is yelling, or a client is being impossible, or our kids are being disrespectful, or we have a million things to do at home and work, or there’s traffic and we’re running late —-> if we feel stressed, we’re stressed.
Perception is reality!
So, what do we do??
Well, there is a big opportunity for us to change…
IF (caps for emphasis) we plan ahead what we’ll do before we’re stressed.
If we do that, it’ll increase the likelihood that we’ll do it next time we’re stressed. Lucky for us (because we’re stressed) our new behavior will become a habit more quickly as well.
Our biggest opportunities for growth are always when we’re most uncomfortable.
Here are 5 ideas for you to use next time you’re stressed:
1. Listen to your favorite music.
2. Gather a few favorite emails or YouTube videos and read and/or watch the videos when you’re stressed. Be sure to save them all in one place so they’re easy to get to.
3. Get up. Take a big deep breath and go for a 5 minute walk.
4. Read a juicy gossip blog that might make you feel otherwise guilty for doing so. (We’ll feel way less guilty reading than eating!)
5. Look at pictures.
Pick one and try it next time you feel stressed.
Though it might be feel uncomfortable at first (doing anything different, especially when we’re stressed, will feel uncomfortable), if we do it the next time we’re stressed, it’ll be a tad easier to do it again.
If we look at each stressful situation as an opportunity to create new habits (and it truly is), it’ll feel less daunting and more empowering.
If you don’t like the ideas above (fine by me) it’s totally worth thinking of other ways we can calm ourselves down. The key, of course, is to think about what we’re going to do…before we get stressed.
And soon enough when we feel stressed, we’ll reach for something else.