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How Far Are You Really Willing to Go?

Friday, August 01, 2008

You've probably heard of "aversion" therapy--that's where you take some behavior you're trying to stop and pair it with an immediate negative experience (like an electric shock) so that your brain starts associating that behavior with the negative experience. Alcoholics, for example, sometimes take a drug called Antabuse, which literally makes you sick if you take a drink.

This is a little harder to do when the behavior you want to stop is a mental behavior, but sometimes using a little imagination and a powerful visual image can do the trick. For example, consider that silly mental behavior we all tend to engage in once in a while (if not more often): the "I've already blown my diet for today, so I might as well keep eating" game.

Obviously, this is nothing but a flagrant rationalization. If you stopped for even a second to think about it, you'd realize that going even further over your calorie quota makes no sense at all. It just makes repairing the damage even harder. But the real problem here is not that you use rationalizations that don't make sense. The real problem, of course, is that you want to keep eating, and that's the thing you need to change. Once you do that, the rationalizations and excuses will disappear on their own.

Unfortunately, just telling yourself that your rationalization doesn't really make sense isn't usually enough to change the desire to keep eating into something else. For that, you need to connect the desire to some kind of undersirable experience or image, so that your brain will be desperate to go somewhere else when it pops up.

You could do something like hit yourself in the head whenever the urge to keep eating comes up, but that would be pretty inconsistent with the healthy lifestyle approach we recommend here at SP. This is where you need to use a little imagination to get the job done. Instead of fighting the urge, or telling yourself how dumb it is, try taking it to the extreme, in your mind. Imagine, for a minute, what it would be like to never have to stop eating, and see how that makes you feel. Is that really what you want, or how you want to be?

For those of you who have trouble imagining something like this, here's a link to a video you can use to get your creative juices flowing:

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
KAITLYNSNAMMY 12/30/2010 7:52AM

Together we can!

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2ABETRLIFE 5/20/2010 11:51PM

    Love your ideas, Coach Dean. Ridiculously funny video, but maybe something like that IS what I need to imagine the next time I'm heading for a junk food purchase. Thanks for the inspiration.

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BATYAFA 2/10/2010 12:44AM

    Loved the feed bag video! emoticon

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LADY-IN-BLACK 3/2/2009 12:20PM

    Thank you for this idea! Will make a mental note for next time! LOL

What about a husband that tempts you with pizza knowing you have no will power?

Do I use shock therapy on him? hehehe

Lisa emoticon

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SINGINGSARA 1/6/2009 11:29AM

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. Recently, I've decided to not count calories, but to just eat like a 'normal' person (eating regular food, but not overindulging or binging)...all of my life I've either been on a diet or overindulging in food, but I've never been the type to eat when I'm hungry...I don't know what hungry feels like. This blog will definitely help the next time I feel like I need to binge.

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GREATDANELOVER1 12/8/2008 11:05AM

  Thank you for identifying the REAL problem and how it is just addiction talking to me. emoticon

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WHISKEYWOMAN3 9/13/2008 10:29AM

    HaHa ! Love them feed bags,it's not far from where we are.Just love your motivational blogs.Imagery ect.. is not working for me,I don't even like telling myself what to do.So,I am listening to Gorayeb Seminars Hypnosis Library if its all subliminal maybe I wont know about it. emoticon

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LINDAANNE2 9/1/2008 12:43PM

    Great article and video. Thank you.

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NATHANSMAMA 8/12/2008 11:03AM

  Unfortunetly it is easy to say, I have already failed, so what does more failure matter. Thank you for pointing out the trick of what happens if we never stop eating. We are all here because we are unhappy with our health and our appearances and this is a GREAT tool for me! emoticon

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RAMBLINGROSE3 8/12/2008 1:58AM identified something that I realise now I do a lot. I need to re pattern the thoughts a bit. Thanks.

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WHITEKP 8/10/2008 1:43AM

    Great article and video - thanks!


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BKRISTEN1213 8/9/2008 11:20AM

    Great laugh! Thanks for the article.

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COLEMANSR 8/8/2008 4:04PM

    Thanks for the laugh.

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DAWNPHARMER 8/7/2008 11:07PM

  Thought we had time traveled back to ancient Rome!
I watched the video twice as it really was funny. Reading the scrawl along the bottom got my attention a third time.

I do best focusing on how I feel after a really good workout. I get so energized and pumped up that I can hardly hold still after my sessions. Positive reinforcement works best for me. I even donated all my old clothing from 12 pounds ago. Each week I try on something that almost fit when I bought it. If it fits well, it makes it into my closet. I then choose an item that was a bit baggy the week before and if it is even baggier, to the donation pile it goes. Eventually, I will run out of items which were purchased a tad too small and will actually need to go to a store again. (I can't wait!) emoticon

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CATIATM 8/6/2008 10:22AM

    Sometimes stopping for a moment and thinking through the consequences helps me.

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    Makes me think about what really put all the people in the nursing homes. Eating out of a feed or presented as "real" food--fast food is the same. Yuck! emoticon

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LAWLI56 8/5/2008 8:12AM

    Yuk! The very thought of those feedbags makes me feel sick!

Actually I've found that putting a photo of me at my fattest on my fridge and food cupboard has helped me think twice before I overeat at home, plus visualising that same photo when I see something I fancy eating while I'm out, like a piece of cake, helps as well.

I think aversion therapy is definately the way to go.

Comment edited on: 8/5/2008 8:16:36 AM

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KATHYLM51 8/4/2008 7:35PM

    Thank you for that reminder..... I do not want animal behavior when eating, but when you think about it the way we are driven to eat something outside of and beyond hunger is even worse than animals since their eating is based on physical drive and we on mental drive.

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SUPERDUPER26 8/4/2008 6:52PM

    Ewwwwwww! Can you imagine if that were real!?!?!? T
hanks for the laugh!

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HEALTHFORLIFE1 8/4/2008 8:28AM

    haha! really funny. Thanks!

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REVSERENA 8/2/2008 9:23PM

    The video was funny.

I have had some success remembering how I felt when I really did let myself over eat. That slightly sick, "what have I done!", bloated nasty feeling. If I can get it back into my mind, I can resist almost any food.

Another trick, when I've started eating something that wasn't on the plan, is to stop eating when it stops tasting wonderful. Usually we only taste the first couple of bites. After that it's just the evil "clean plate club" rearing it's ugly head.

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AMOSLA 8/2/2008 10:04AM

    yuck! I had to turn away.

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ELLIQQ 8/2/2008 2:23AM

    Yours was pretty gross .. here's another gross: want to stop your eating something at a certain time, whatever .... just imagine it grossly, like with a cockroach running across it ... worked pretty good for me LOL.

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ALIAGOGO 8/1/2008 11:04PM

    OMG! funny!
"we're always looking for more efficient ways to get food product into our customers' gaping maws"
I always wondered if fast food marketing execs said things like that! Your article puts it in perspective, I always enjoy reading your blog, thanks! now I'm hopping off to practice that hunger theory you talked about... :)

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RENA1965 8/1/2008 10:32PM

    Hillarious, has anyone asked if they can get one of these yet lol..

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NEVADA_SLIM 8/1/2008 7:24PM

  Oh that is disgusting. Hilarious but disgusting. Talk about aversion therapy. Good going Coach. LOL.

I know a few people who would actually go for one of those. Isn't that scary. And this morning I heard about research being done on a drug that mimics the effects of exercise, but without the effort.

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    That is hillarious, thanks for sharing!

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    So funny! I don't frequent those places anyway, but now I won't be able to drive by one of the them without thinking about this vid, and that will be sure to keep me away! Gotta love the Onion!

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COLEMANSR 8/1/2008 4:55PM

    I'll check the link out.

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CARLI_MAE 8/1/2008 4:20PM

    I don't think my browser linked to the right page ... clicking the link took me to the home page, and I watched this disgusting Domino's Pizza research study ... making the most awful looking pizza's topped with horrible ingredients, and finding that people would actually pay money for them & eat it even if it looked like garbage. One they did was an Oreo Cookie Pizza, and the guy said it turned out to be a top seller!

When I manually typed in the page link, I got a web page error ...

But I get the point ... sometimes I used similar mental images when I stopped smoking and got a really bad craving ... picturing a pair of lungs turned all black and leathery, or a woman I knew who died at 68 for refusing to get off the stuff, and looked like she was about 120 -- even her face was stained brownish-yellow! Yecch!

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MYKIDSMOM726 8/1/2008 4:05PM


Just thinking about that made me sick! Thanks!

It reminds me of : 'I Can Make You Thin' by Paul McKenna. His techniques also use the imagination - for example, visualizing worms crawling all through your chocolate cake. Suddenly, you don't want the cake anymore.

This is great "Food for thought" & should be a regular part of my plan.

Thanks, Coach!

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PAMELA984 8/1/2008 4:01PM

    Well, that image from the video will certainly stay with me - now, why did I eat so much at lunch?

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