Too many exceptions can make the rule


At 10:27pm on Sunday night, I received a text message from a friend of mine, let’s call her Priscilla, asking me “Is Apple Pie okay?” Since it was April Fool’s Day, that very well could have been a joke. Since it was from Priscilla, I knew it wasn’t.

The day before, Priscilla started asking me how she could lose weight in time for her upcoming trip to Thailand. After all, she is going to be spending a lot of time on beach trying to pick up guys, who hopefully, won’t be using her as a mule. (I don’t think Priscilla would survive a Brokedown Palace scenario. The Apple Pie in Thailand is just not that good).

Anyway, in order to give her some tips that might help her, I asked her about her current workout regimen and eating habits. She has recently started going to a gym in the City of Brotherly Love, Sweat, and has been doing about 30 minutes of cardio a day. She is just beginning, and is also a doctor, so it’s kind of understandable that getting the time to go has been difficult for her. Actually, I suggested she get a few personal training sessions, but she has yet to subscribe to that idea. In any event, her 30 minutes of cardio a day is better than what she was doing before, which was, well, nothing.

Now, on to the eating habits. No breakfast. Ever. Candy at the hospital, because it is quick and easy to eat. Instead of lunch, more snacks from the vending machine. Then, without fail, just because she wants it, ice cream. Every day. Not to mention, 3 coffees with cream and sugar. By the time she gets to the gym, she is super tired.

Priscilla is a doctor at a hospital, and has a very stressful, busy job. However, she has identified some areas where she could improve in terms of her eating habits. The problem is, in spite of knowing that she needs to eat better, cut certain things out (like ice cream and sugar), she still text messages me and asks if Apple Pie at 10:27pm is okay. After all, she wants to be happy, and she only lives once.

I see this on blogs all the time. Making exceptions because it is too hard to maintain such a rigid lifestyle ALL of the time. I tend to agree that making an exception once in a while is probably a good thing. I had been doing 6 days on, one day off. It kind of worked for me, but then I realized that once I had settled into that one day off, it became much easier to start cheating on other days. Still, variety is good. However, so many people build such momentum with their variety or exceptions that they ultimately become the rule.

I just read one blog where the woman trying to lose weight had a great day of healthy eating, then came home and ate a pizza at 8pm. The next day, she had a healthy breakfast, but wrote about how she was going out to dinner and was going to be eating heavy Indian food with naan and white rice.

I realize that trying to tell someone to give up the little pleasures in life can be both daunting and discouraging. This is why, one of the things that I suggest to friends who ask, is that they should set short term goals. For example, Priscilla is going away in a few weeks. My advice to her is be strict until her trip, and indulge herself while she is away. It is a short term, feasible goal. She was excited about the prospects, and has cut the ice cream out. Of course, we had this conversation on Saturday, and she wrote me about the Apple Pie on Sunday. I wrote back to her, “No. Don’t do it.” Her response? “Too late.”

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