Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sustainable lifestyle changes through the pursuit of pleasure

Cross posted at

I was going to start out talking about The Biggest Loser, but I realized that, having never really watched more than one or two episodes I'd kind of be talking out of my ass.

However, I do want to expand on a point that one commenter on another person's blog (I REALLY should take note of these things) said in relation to the sustainability of lifestyle changes. Changes that feel like chores are not sustainable.

In making a real lifestyle change, whether it is to eat better, or be more active, it is so important to adjust your attitude and take pleasure out of these changes. I see a lot of people who seem to seek self-punishment in the form of grueling exercise in the name of making an end, and while in the short term, I can find this admirable I have to question if it is sustainable. Maybe that is why I never got involved in things like Crossfit, bootcamps and the like. To me, these things don't seem like fun, they seem like self-punishment. Part of my success laid in finding activities that got me moving but were still FUN. Baseball, belly-dancing and kickboxing were all things I joined because I never felt like I was just exercising for the sake of exercising but I was having fun, or learning a skill. Losing weight was always a bonus, whereas the ends were to get good at a new skill - some better accomplished than others.

Finding pleasure in food is another area that I feel is needed in order to be sustainable. Many people on here claim that a love for food has been the root of their weight issues. Mine, I would say, has actually been a contempt for food - that is to say up until the age of oh, say, 23 contempt for any food that wasn't hot dogs, Kraft dinner or canned spagetti, or plainly speaking, junk.

I didn't really like much else. It took forcing myself to really alter the way I thought about 'healthy' food versus 'treats', to frame healthy food in such a way that it was appetizing. To revisit all those foods that I had turned my nose up at ten zillion times before.
It started with a single piece of sushi in a mall with a friend. "Just try one" my friend urged me. I tried it. At first, my instinct was to spit it out, but I forced myself to really taste it, to savour it. The next few times I tried it, it was easier, and eventually I was hooked.
I started trying salads (a thing I hated in all it's forms.. I'm still not fond of mayo-based salads). Mayonaise in small doses. I was like a mother sneaking vegetables into her child's food, only it was my own. I brought a Ceasar wrap to work one day and found myself drooling over lettuce.. drooling over the thought of it's crispy refreshing crunch, and the warm bread and the chicken. Those things that were once abhorrent to me, and that I had only struggled through in order to have dessert, I began craving. And those things, the hot dogs, the KD, I found I didn't enjoy as much and I would ask myself "Why am I eating this if I'm not really enjoying it?"

(In fairness though, sometimes I DO still really enjoy a big bowl of KD and ketchup)

A lot of weight loss systems have used the adage "Nothing is as good as thin feels" up until recently. It's fallen of in popularity, due to it's potential for ED triggering.
MY favorite philosophy, however, comes from the movie Ratatouille. In the scene where Linguine faces off with restaurant critic Anton Ego, they have the following exchange:


Ego: You're slow for someone in the fast lane
Linguine: and you're thin for someone who likes food.
Ego: I don't like food. I love it. And if I don't love it, I don't swallow.

I think this could be a philosophy that would help a lot of people, and doesn't frame food as the enemy.. food is NOT the enemy - actually, food is like that friend we all take for granted, but don't really realize how lucky we are to have it, and we should appreciate it.
... eat for pleasure, not merely for fuel. Pay attention to quality, taste, really savouring a meal or a snack, rather than mindlessly filling the gullet because it's there. If we (and by we, I mean those of us for whom boredom eating is a problem) start to really pay attention to not just the quantity of what we eat, but the quality, then we stand to be more choosy in our habits.


  1. These are excellent thoughts! Thank you!

    I love Ratatouille btw.

  2. Just found your blog and I LOVE this post. The nod to Ratatouille - your 100% correct. I went through a major heathly lifestyle overhaul about 3 years ago. When I first started I was just yo-yoing with 5 or s pounds. Why? My heart wasn't in it. I hate when people say they're dieting. My first thought it always 'good luck with that' because I know diets don't exist. It has to be a lifestyle change. Kudos to you!

  3. First, I can't help but snicker when Ego's comment is taken out of context. "If I don't love it, I don't swallow." That's What She Said. Right?

    Second, I hate exercising, but I've found a way to do it. I combine something I hate with something I love and balance the two things out. I hate exercising, but I love video games. So, I play fast paced video games on the Xbox360 or PS3 while on the recumbent stationary bike. An hour goes by and other than being sweaty, playing something like HALO makes the time pass so much more quickly. Just, you know, cover the clock so you don't know how long (or short) it has been.

  4. You're absolutely right. Great tips. I find I have to stop eating in front of the TV. It only leads to mindless shoveling of food into my chow hole.


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