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  1. #1
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    More reason to "Act Local": Avoiding the binge

    More reason to Act Local: Avoiding the binge
    By Art Markman, Ph.D., Psychology Today
    November 08, 2008

    The holidays are coming. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa. They're all on the way. And with them come office parties, holiday parties, family gatherings, and stress. If you are trying to keep to a diet or to avoid alcohol, the holidays can be a real nightmare. Every party has a huge spread of food. And Thanksgiving meals are all about eating too much and then falling asleep on the sofa while a football game blares in the background. How can you help to prevent the holiday season from being an overall threat to your diet or your hard-won sobriety?

    In another recent post in this blog, I talked about the benefits of dreaming globally and acting locally. That is, having a big goal, but realizing that goal by acting in small steps. There is another benefit to this approach that is particularly important around the holidays. I'll focus on dieting in the rest of this post, but a lot of what I say here applies just as much to sobriety as it does to dieting.

    In the case of dieting, dreaming global means having a realistic long-term sense of where you want to end up. For example, you might be trying to lose 40 pounds and to get in better physical condition. However, you have to act local to achieve that goal. You have to have specific goals for each week that involve both the meals you will eat and the exercises you will do.

    One important reason to focus on these local goals is that they will help you to avoid what Martin and Tesser call the "What the hell effect." This effect occurs when failing in an effort to control your behavior leads to a binge. For example, in the case of eating, imagine you have gone to a big party for work, and there is a huge amount of delicious food there. You start by taking a small amount to keep with your diet. However, some of the food is just too tempting, and you eat a little more than you should. Having broken your diet a little, you might then be tempted to just give in to temptation and to gorge yourself at the buffet. And having gorged yourself on one day at the party buffet, you may feel as though you are failing in your overall diet, and soon you are back to eating too much.

    So, how can acting locally help? Each day is just one small step on the road to your ultimate goal. You really want to lose that weight and feel better physically. Each day, though, is just one step. If you go to a party, you should have a realistic plan for eating that day. You cannot expect to stay nailed to your diet when you are surrounded by food. On the one hand, you should give yourself a little leeway on that day. On the other, hand, though, you should recognize that eating a little more than you hoped to on one day is not necessarily a huge threat to your diet. So, you shouldn't feel like if you failed at that day, you have failed overall. You don't need to give up that day entirely and gorge. And even if you do happen to have a bad dieting day, there is no reason to let that affect your behavior the following day. Each local day is a chance to start fresh and to work toward pursuing your long-term goals.

    Addiction treatments have long-recognized this fact. The slogan "One Day at a Time" from Alcoholics Anonymous is a recognition that a big goal like losing a lot of weight or staying sober for life can be too large to contemplate. And failing even one day on your diet or your sobriety could potentially feel like a complete failure in your grand design. But it is not. After all, tomorrow is another day.

  2. #2
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    Re: More reason to "Act Local": Avoiding the binge

    what Martin and Tesser call the "What the hell effect."
    hahaha...now, THAT I can relate too.

  3. #3
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    Re: More reason to "Act Local": Avoiding the binge

    Thank you David,
    again I need to print this out in order to read it slowly.
    (it's been a downer day and I can't read well at present. Printing it helps me to take it in slower)
    For now,
    amastie

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