Day 152: Confidence Surge

One day at a time, baby. I knocked it out of the park yesterday with food, and now I’ve got a confidence surge. I can do this: one day at a time.

One Day At  A Time is the sobriety mantra, and it works for that. It worked for me. As I was describing to my friend Andrew on our run this morning, I don’t think I’m an alcoholic. My off switch is fine, my dimmer switch is wonky. So I don’t lay claim to the kind of strength in struggle that alcoholics show. But borrowing that page from their playbook worked for me.

So can it work for food? Why can’t it? This might be the elegant solution I’ve been looking for. So here it is:

I map out my food in the morning. All of it. The whole day’s worth. If I don’t know what we’re having for dinner, I plan to have a cup of brown rice, a cup of legumes, and a cup of steamed veggies.

And then I don’t deviate from the plan.

A confidence surge is great, but what about the long haul?

Sustaining these things is where it gets tough. But I think the “revert to rice and beans” plan really is the solve. Because it was always the gaps that messed me up. Not knowing what I’d eat in the morning led to eating whatever during the day, then not logging, then… well, the lack of progress speaks for itself.

So now, I have a solution to that. Make it up. Decide what I’m going to eat that day, at 7 a.m., and stick to that come hell or high water.

This is where it’s good to have a supportive spouse. She also wants to get on board the better meal planning train, but we both find ourselves distracted and at loose ends. So on days that there’s no evening meal plan, I’m now going to go ahead and manufacture one to make sure it’s all logged in the morning.

And then I stick to it.

This plays to my on/off switch and not my dimmer switch. Let’s go.

Day Twenty-Eight: Off Switches vs. Dimmer Switches

“Off switch and dimmer switch” has been a metaphor on my mind lately.

It has to do with drinking, or at least that’s where it started.

But now I suspect it connects to a lot of things in my life.

Essentially, my off switch is pretty good. If I know something’s not good for me, or that I shouldn’t do it to excess, not starting isn’t that hard.

Some times are harder than others, but on balance, it’s pretty easy for me to, say, not drink. I just don’t drink.

My dimmer switch is kind of messed up

If I hit the ‘on’ switch, though, it’s not easy for me to use the dimmer switch appropriately.

Again, this started as a booze thought. But it also applies to snacking, to video games, to Netflix binges, to not exercising.

“Not exercising” may not exactly fit in that category, but let’s see where this goes.

When I open a bag of chips, I’m not a one-chip person, I’m a whole-bag person. Ditto with candy, or cookies, or… well, let’s just broaden this category to ‘snacks’ and be done with it. I used to have co-workers who had Costco bags of nut mixes on their desk and would eat like a quarter-cup a day. This, to me, was alien behaviour. Like the people who run 50 km a day or, I don’t know, astronaut training. I just can’t conceive of that.

If I start playing a game and get intrigued by it, it’s nearly impossible to set a 30-minute timer, then walk away. It’s “one more turn” or “one more mission”.

I don’t think I need to extend the metaphor to Netflix; you see where this is going. I’m not sure that “not exercising” is an off switch or dimmer switch situation, but if I put myself in a position where I don’t exercise for 2-3 days, I sure don’t start feeling like I need to do it. Not exercising, for me, doesn’t build up an accrual of “exercise vibes” until I just gotta hit the gym. Not exercising just leads to torpor and more not exercising.

I think the horse has left the dimmer switch barn

One approach to this is to say “I gotta fix that dimmer switch.” To be honest, I think at this stage of my life I just need to accept some things about myself.

I have a great, well-functioning off switch.

I have a pretty crappy dimmer switch.

It’s not hard to pick which one I should be using.