Do you eat well all day but lose control at night? Here's why and what to do about it.
The homo economicus view of human beings states that we think and choose unfailingly well, and we fit within the text book picture of economists.
In other words: According to economists we will always choose what’s best for us.
LOL! Do they live in this world?
Clearly, this is not the case.
Research in psychology and behavioral economics proves we are very irrational creatures.
On one hand (I like to call this our long term self / rational mind) we know what’s best for us. We know we shouldn’t overeat, and skip exercise.
On the other (I like to call this our short term self / irrational mind) we’re highly impulsive and succumb to temptations all the time.
A temptation then is anything we consume more of when we’re irrational.
My definition of a temptation is simple: anything that makes us think irrationally.
Here’s the challenge: Right now I feel good. No cravings. I plan on exercising in a bit, and I feel focused.
However, in a few hours I might feel tired…
Being tired helps our irrational mind get louder. So does being hungry. So does being stressed. So does being overwhelmed.
Research has proven (and I’m confident we don’t need research to prove this) we grossly underestimate how we’ll feel and act when we’re tempted – which in turn, wakes up the irrational part of our brain.
This is known as the hot-cold empathy gap.
That means when we’re focused and thinking rationally and long term minded, we totally underestimate just how irrational and short term minded we can and will become – because we’re so rational and focused in that moment.
Right now, junk food isn’t in front of me. I’m thinking rationally. I’m good to go.
But, if you put my favorite treats in front of me it might be an entirely different ball game.
A few lessons can be learned:
1. Don’t have any temptations near you. In your house, car, desk, whatever. Sounds obvious but it’s amazing how many people keep junk food around. It is always better to avoid the dragon than slay it when it comes to food.
2. Tell your loved ones / friends / etc., that you’re on a mission and that you’d appreciate if they didn’t bring you your favorite treats or keep them around. Tell them it doesn’t help you be the person you really want to be. Tell them it doesn’t support your goal of better health.
3. Protect yourself from getting irrational. What are the top causes of getting to that irrational state?
Being: A) Hungry without a plan (this is why eating every 3-4 hours is key), B) tired (sleeping as much as possible, and counter-intuitively exercising – exercise gives us energy), and C) anxious (figuring out what’s really bothering us, and choosing to bother with it vs avoiding it) are the top causes.
4. Don’t go where there will be temptations! “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” (Hey, just because it’s common sense doesn’t mean it’s common practice. Besides, the best advice always sounds like common sense because it’s actually practical.)
Sometimes we can’t control this but many times we can. A client just told me how she read an article about ice cream this morning, and all day long she’s been thinking about ice cream! Why do that to ourselves?
If we’ve decided that the junk at the party we’re going to isn’t worth it…why bother even looking?
If we’ve decided that we don’t want to eat the junk in the kitchen at home or at work…why bother even looking?
If we’ve decided that we don’t want to buy anything from the vending machine…why bother even looking?
If we’ve decided that we’re done eating for the night after dinner…why bother even going into the kitchen after dinner?
Don’t underestimate how tempted you can really get.
But see, right now, we’re cold so we’ll rationalize and say things like “Na, I’m good! I’ll be fine!”
Remember: #3 above, and let’s protect ourselves.
P.S. Do you find yourself saying, “Yes!” to any and all invitations. Do you find yourself taking on too much and feeling overwhelmed? (Sounds like the beginning of an infomercial right?)
Tip: Before you commit to an event, imagine it happening this week. Your future self will thank you.
Again, this is our short term selves trying to convince our long term selves we’re less busy than we actually are. If we’re usually up to our eye balls with things to do, why would the future be any different?
This is the same thing as resolution-ers thinking this will be the year they finally change without changing anything. Not us. Oh not us MBT-ers! We have an unbeatable system of support and accountability to protect ourselves from ourselves. 🙂