If you’re like most people I know, you probably think, at some point during the day, that you really need to make better choices about what, when, and/or how much to eat. And really, it’s such a valiant and optimistic thought – “if I try just a LITTLE BIT harder, I can start making better decisions and get healthier/skinnier/stronger.”
The problem is, for you, me, and most of the rest of the world, TRYING A LITTLE BIT HARDER just hasn’t been working. So why can’t we stay motivated to diet and not cheat? Because…
MOTIVATION IS A BIG JOKE
Have you ever stopped to count how many times you’ve cheated on a diet in your life? How about your friends? How many times have you heard a friend talk about cheating or getting back on their diet after falling off it? I’ve never taken the time to count, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve cheated on a diet well over 1,000 times in my life (and that’s a conservative guess).
If I had a nickel (or lost a pound of fat) for every time I heard someone tell me that they’re serious THIS TIME or that it will somehow be different on this particular diet…
Give me a break – YOUR NEXT DIET WILL BE NO DIFFERENT THAN YOUR LAST ONE
Here’s the thing – if you want to know how you’re going to act in the future (whether on a diet or otherwise), just look at how you’ve acted in the past. Your actions will ALMOST ALWAYS follow the same pattern. (Unless, of course, you’re a character in a movie, of course, in which case, you’re about to have a life-changing epiphany that no one in the real world will actually ever have). If you didn’t get out of bed and go exercise this morning, then there’s a pretty good chance that you won’t do it a week from now either. (Of course, there will be days that you do, but the chances are, on any given day, that you’ll take the action or actions you most commonly have taken in the past).
We’re well into the 20th century, and there’s a lot of cool research that some smart folks have been conducting for quite a while on behavior, decision-making, and even nutrition (e.g., Brian Wansink at Cornell ). Guess what? All of the research being done by Wansink and most other behavioral economists flies in the face of the notion that any of us can simply decide to change our behavior in any significant way without figuring out a way to change our environment and circumstances.