August 11, 2016

The Cure for Distracted Dieting

Distracted dieting may not work any better than distracted driving.

In almost the same way that momentary distractions can reduce the quality of your driving decisions, larger-scale distractions, the ones connected with the everyday suspense in your life, can reduce the quality of your food decisions. Regardless of the quality of the food plan you might be trying to follow, it won’t work if, whenever you get distracted, you eat whatever you think of in that moment. That’s a problem even if those distracted decisions about food come just a few times a day.

That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after burning off 12 pounds of excess body fat in three weeks after receiving the satisfaction letter for my home mortgage. That’s the notice from the lender that says the mortgage is officially paid off and closed. The mortgage had been my biggest immediate goal for years, and with that accomplished, I had more attention to spare for everything else going on in my daily life. The changes in my food-related decisions were almost too small to notice, but they added up over the course of the day so that almost every morning I weighed less than the morning before.

I had been losing weight already. Over the preceding year I had burned off 10 pounds, and I thought I was doing pretty well in that area. But with the distraction of debt out of the way, suddenly I was losing weight 15 times faster. Incidentally, don’t try to do this by an extreme diet and extreme will power. Nutrition experts say a safe, sustainable pace of weight loss is more like 1 percent of your body weight per week, and if you try to go faster, you will almost certainly slip up. But if paying off your mortgage or removing some other longstanding obstacle reduces the level of suspense in your life and gives a new ability to focus on your decisions, don’t be surprised if you see sudden improvements in your weight or some other area of your life. If distracted dieting works poorly, the solution is to remove some of the distractions.

One way I look at this is the thought that you probably aren’t going to do brilliant work in a lot of different areas at once. For years while I was doing brilliantly at cutting costs and paying debts, my results in the area of my health, though good, were less than brilliant. The day I had no debts, I became effectively smarter in my approach to my health.

Perhaps it is possible to do brilliant work in only a few areas of focus in any one period of time. If so, it makes sense to be strategic about which areas of your life you look at using a problem-solving state of mind. Look for the ideal answers in just a few key areas of your life at any one time. For everything else, follow your familiar routine or seek the guidance of others. With a narrow strategic focus you’ll make faster progress.

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