Monday, June 1, 2015

The "Treat" Mentality

Imagine this: You've kept up with your schedule, all week (barely).  You've just returned from spending your lunch break running errands, setting yourself up with all the things you needed before the weekend starts - groceries for the dinner you're hosting, bandaids for the first-aid kit, sunscreen for the trip to the beach and the kids' birthday party you're attending this weekend.  Thank goodness you already picked up that bubble-shooting gun and wrapped it last night before bed (while binge watching a few episodes of Frankie and Grace on Netflix... after you got the little one(s) to bed.

It's Friday!  TGIF!!!  You're rushing back to work to scarf down your lunch... and you see the sign at the bakery.  And you think to yourself...

Hell yes, I deserve a treat.

Thankfully, the bakery is there to lend you support (calories.)

When it comes to treats, like a daily latte, scone (I actually hate scones, but I hear some people like them), cookie, brownie, or insert your treat of choice, there is a good deal of scientific research and some fantastic books about rewiring these habit loops.  Check out Charles Duhigg's Book The Power of Habit or Christine Carter's free e-course Crack the Habit Code for more...

Identify your cue, routine, and reward... then rework the routine (toss out smoking a cigarette, add in taking a five minute walk with a friend).

However, the reworking of the habit or the routine around a craving is tricky.

One of the things this research does not encompass is the time factor.  In the above instance, the person needs to unwind, to take a break from the stresses of life.  So let's look at some things that might fill that routine out nicely:

  • A 60 minute yoga class
  • A nice hot bubble bath
  • A massage
  • A chat with a friend
  • A walk in nature
  • A sweaty exercise session
  • A 15 minute breath session followed by 15 minutes of silent meditation

What do all these things have in common?  They take WAY more time than eating a cookie.

In our rushing around culture... it is so hard to stop.  Food has taken the place of a candle-lit bath, a phone call with a friend, full of giggles (we text instead), or just sitting around, lazily thumbing through a magazine.

When was the last time you took time to nourish your do-nothing bank?  If you're working hard to manage your eating habits, take a (quick) moment to reflect on this.  And notice the advertising all around us urging us to soothe ourselves with food.  We're craving something different, something deeper.  


Ariel Jacobson said...

so true! As a still relatively new parent and someone with a very demanding job, I basically have no time to myself, so I've totally resorted to "coffee and a pastry" as the way to "feed" my spirit and give myself a pat on the back, when what I'd really love is a 5-mile run, an hour of yoga or even a haircut (have only had one haircut in the past 16 months). I'm enjoying your blog posts, thanks for sharing!

Anna Van Fleet said...

Ari :) Thank you so much for stopping by. Family life + rewarding career is wonderful... yet it bleeds us dry in some ways. Haircuts?? Shaving?? Even... showers? Hopefully we'll see each other again in the 'burgh. I'd love to meet your little.