Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In a Split Second

Did you know that your fatness or lack thereof is, and was, determined in a split second? Your weight loss success or failure... your 30" or 56" waist... your long life or early demise... all are determined by the choices you make in a split second.

Today when I came home from the grocery store I was famished. I walked into the kitchen (with a perfectly healthy day going) and opened the fridge to get a peach. I saw a hot dog in there. My mouth started to water and in a split second:

a) my hand was reaching for the dog and a bun, and within minutes it was in my mouth and on its way to becoming part of my body; or
b) I glanced away, grabbed a peach and shut the fridge, dismissing the hot dog from my mind.

I chose b.

Every day you make hundreds of little decisions in your life, some of which really matter and some of which don't. What socks to wear, which shampoo to use, whether or not to floss your teeth. Some decisions are the split second kind (like an impulse buy when you're shopping) and others take more time and thought (like buying a new car). How much thought do you take when it comes to your eating and exercising? A lot of thought? More thought than action?

When you are on your way driving to Taco Bell because you just HAD to have a chalupa RIGHT NOW, did you know that you can change it in a split second, by stopping the car, turning around, and going home? Do you realize that once you get home, and are opening that chalupa wrapper and about to take that first bite, you can change your reality in a split second by standing up, crushing the chalupa between your fingers, and throwing it in the trash with the coffee grounds? It does not take much thought. It does not take much willpower. It takes ONE SPLIT SECOND of sanity and clarity. You have to learn to act on it. Jump on it before it goes away. It is so fleeting. That feeling of guilt ("Ugh, why am I doing this?") or brief moment of regret ("I should not have bought those donuts") is your window of opportunity to take control. As soon as you feel that, grab it. Stop what you are doing and make it impossible to continue. Smash the Oreos down the garbage disposal. Spit the bite of brownie in the trash immediately. Say no and mean it.

If you have never done this, try it. Take that split second when your brain is telling you not to eat something and act on it. You have to be quick. Don't THINK about it. Just jump up with your bowl of Cheetos and run and throw them out your backdoor into the grass. Or flush them down the toilet. If you do this fast enough, your animal brain will not have time to scream, "STOP! I WANT THAT! IT WILL BE YUMMY! DON'T WASTE FOOD!" Be quick. And remember, the real waste is to EAT that crap food and make it part of your body. Stop treating your body like a garbage disposal. Start paying attention to those seconds of clarity in your everyday life. Just because you put the candy in your grocery cart does not mean you have to buy it. Take the split second to stick them quickly on a shelf in the cereal aisle and get away as fast as possible. Just because you bought a Big Mac meal does not mean you have to eat it. It is okay to just throw it away. And just because you want a hot dog from the fridge does not mean you have to get it out and bite it. And if you do bite it, you can spit it out. And if you do eat half of it, you can throw the rest away. And if you eat the whole thing, you can go in the fridge and throw away the rest of them. You have hundreds of split seconds of opportunity every day to change your life.

Your split seconds will add up to the person you will be in a month, or a year, or ten years. Five hundred split second decisions to ditch the junk food will result in a healthier you. Eventually, you learn to make the decisions earlier in the process (deciding not to go out for a chalupa at all, or deciding to just look away from the donuts and not even consider them). Your body and your conscience will let you know, in quiet, split second ways, what you need to do. Listen! And act, for a better you tomorrow.

19 comments:

Pamw said...

wow, split seconds of clarity. I wonder how many calories I have piled onto my body by ignoring those. i know exactly what you mean, though because after reading your blog, yesterday, i bit into a piece of cheese and realized that i didn't really like the taste or the texture and after chewing for a few seconds i spit it out and threw the rest away. that split second was worth 60 calories, so i guess i know where this 100 extra pounds came from. thanks for the encouragement and great advice.

Dinah Soar said...

Good post Lyn. What you said in your post points to why it's so important to pay attention when we eat... and to eat deliberately...making choices and decisions based on thought...even if the thought is fleeting, it can be important...and as you say one fleeting thought can reverse another.

Eating mindfully and being conscious about what we eat---eating with purpose--- hugely impacts our weight.

It's better to have one perfect bite, like Kathy mentioned at Kathy Calculates recently, than to gorge on food that we haven't even taken the time to taste much less enjoy.

spunkysuzi said...

split seconds of clarity doesn't always have to be with junk food either! I was eating last night and i'd made myself a really nice salad but by the time i was nearly finished the rest of the meal i knew i really didn't need or want the salad. Now i could have eaten it but the stomach was thanking me for not doing so ;)
As usual a wonderful article!!

Katschi said...

My split seconds are best spent at the grocery store where my success begins. If I make good choices here, I don't have treats at home to tempt me.
I read the book Mindless Eating and in it the authour talks about the office candy dish. Everytime you walk by it you have to say no and sooner or later you will give in to temptation. When the candy dish is out of sight it really is out of mind. (It was part of a study). No candy dish = no temptation.

Ceres said...

Good job on that hot dog, you're a champion! I usually manage to resist temptation these days, which is a h-u-u-ge step for me. Planning in advance is key. Still though, when I'm famished or tipsy it's much harder to say "no". There's another very good reason to avoid both circumstances if you're trying to knock pounds off :-)

Kate said...

:) I was kinda thinking about this today. We're getting ready for a road trip, and I packed the grocery cart with doritos and goodies to snack on while on the road. Then I asked myself, "Do I really NEED to eat along the way? I wouldn't eat this stuff at home!" and ended up putting it away. It's often just those moments....

~Kate
Fabulous @ 50

Lyn said...

David,

I would! I have smashed a huge piece of chocolate cake with thick frosting in my fingers and thrown it away. I have done the same with 3/4 of a Big Mac. There is something kind of therapeutic about smashing that kind of crap right out of your life! When you grab it and strangle it like that, it's suddenly not so powerful... and not so appetizing :)

Beef baja chalupa: $1.19, 410 calories
Strangled chalupa: priceless.

Karyn said...

so true. Can't count the number of times I've pushed that voice away while on my way to destruction. Fortunately, the right split second decisions are, as you say, powerfully theraputic and seem to become easier to make the more we "practice" making them - especially if we recognise the battle we have just fought and won!

I am enjoying your blog very much, by the way...thanks for your honesty.

Heather said...

awesome job picking "b"! those are the choices that will keep you on the road to success.

katie said...

Your posts are so insightful and helpful! I *try* to stop and think before I eat something to gauge if I'm really hungry or not, but what really gets me is eating out (my DH just got a fancy new job and we've been dining out entirely too much lately). If I could just follow my conscience and get a chicken taco salad rather than a big queso-drenched burrito, I would be so much better off.

I was ruminating on something similar today. I'm not a parent, but if I were, I certainly wouldn't let my kid eat anything and everything they wanted, I'd try to keep it healthy and balanced. Why do *I* not deserve the same treatment? Why do I not give my own body and health the attention and effort it deserves? I'm going to try keeping this in mind next time I'm faced with options like the hot dog vs. the peach.

Stephanie said...

Reminds me of advice I've heard people say: Feed what you want to grow in you, and starve what you want to kill in you. The more often you choose well in that split second, the more it's just a habit, not even a choice. Keep up the good work!

Ms Ingrid said...

That's what food addiction is all about. You have to fight only with that very first bite, just do NOT take it, walk away, drink water, go and exercise, and stick to your regular healthy meals. That makes all the difference.

Good luck!

ryry the adventurous said...

You know, it reminds me of the epic stories of tragic heroes. Anakin Skywalker, Frodo Baggins, Warmaster Horus (for anyone who might be a Warhammer fan), those who could see the two outcomes of their future, but in one split second they make the decision for it to turn one way or another, to good or evil.

We choose to turn our lives for the better!

Heather said...

I cannot get enough of your blog! Powerful, insightful stuff here. And you're right - I've had those split seconds. Sometimes I make the right choice, sometimes I don't. Thanks for reminding me I have a garbage disposal in the kitchen, and not one in my body.

AightStop said...

excellent blog and i needed that today. thanks!

Sunny said...

Wow - this post actually brought tears to my eyes...I've been thinking so much along these same lines. I called it a "bypass". I need to do the bypass more often...bypass that hotdog....

Those little moments of clarity are exactly what I meant - you just explained it so much better than I ever could!

illusionaltzu said...

As always, you are my hero. :)

Now, I'm going to go upstairs and chuck those chocolate cookies.

Tony said...

man, split seconds of clarity...I need more of those. Great post.

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

I love this! Thanks for putting it so well.