by Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide
"Ron Brown is a certified fitness trainer who doesn't have an inch of flab on his body. He'll tell you what you can do to become fit and trim too."
TALK TO AMERICA, Washington DC
LET'S SAY one
day you feel angry and very upset. Nothing unusual about that; it's normal to
experience such emotional moods. So, you get in your car and say to yourself,
"I am not going to follow the rules of the road today, because I'm angry.
I'm just going to drive any old way I feel like it, and, boy, do I feel mad! I'm
not going to bother staying within my lane. I'll push other drivers right off
the road. I'll drive straight down the center of the street if I like, and I'll
go as fast as I can. Pedestrians better stay out of my way because I'm very
upset. I don't have patience to stop and wait for red lights. I'll just crash
right through those cars..."
This silly hypothetical example illustrates how such emotional driving would be a sure recipe for disaster. Everyone agrees that allowing raw emotions to determine our driving habits is not the proper way to manage our driving. So, why do so many people think allowing raw emotions to determine their eating habits is the proper way to manage their weight?
"I am not going to follow my diet today, because I'm angry. I'm just going to eat any old way I feel like it, and, boy, do I feel mad! I'm not going to bother staying within my calorie allowance. I'll push those calorie-controlled portions right off the table. I'll eat straight down the center of the dessert aisle at the grocery store if I like, and I'll eat as much as I can. Other dieters better stay out of my way because I'm very upset. I don't have patience to stop and wait for those extra 10
of body fat to vanish. I'll just crash right through those diets..."
Anger is only one of many emotions that may adversely affect our feelings and mood. Sadness, guilt, anxiety...although most of us experience a wide range of emotions, and it is normal to do so, we all recognize that none of these emotions is an excuse to ignore the rules of driving. Why shouldn't the same apply to weight management.
People might criticize this idea and point out, "The pleasure of eating soothes my emotions."
Yes, eating is pleasurable for most people, and that too is a normal and necessary part of life. There's also pleasure in crashing bumper cars at an amusement park, at least for some people, but we don't allow that sort of emotional response to manage our driving in the real world.
Actually, emotions themselves are not really the problem. Our brains are designed to experience and express emotions in order to ensure our survival. How could life continue without the emotions associated with love, sex, food, discovery, protection, etc? The problem is we often need to separate our emotions from our weight management in order to successfully reach our body composition goals, just as we manage to drive properly, despite our emotions, in order to safely reach our destination. But how do we do that?
Let the Numbers do the Work
Think about it. You don't have to psych yourself up every morning to follow the rules of the road and drive safely to work, although the idea of going to work itself may require lots of psyching. Nevertheless, you don't place the responsibility for your driving on your raw emotions. Likewise, you must take the responsibility for managing your weight off of your raw emotions and put them on raw data...numbers!
You can't manage what you don't measure, no matter how emotional you get about it!
Research in the behavioral sciences shows that people are more successful in managing their weight when they self-monitor their daily calorie intake and expenditures. See: Science Backs Calorie Counting.
These people are not any less emotional than you are. They have simply learned to follow a program that works, like following the rules of the road when driving. They have learned that their emotions have much less to do with achieving weight management success then they first thought.
Why not follow a program that teaches you the rules to monitor your calorie intake and expenditures, modify the balance between the two, known as your energy balance, and measure changes in your body fat and lean body mass levels?