Sunday, July 28, 2019

Lose Weight by Reframing!

Ice cream is sweetened butter.

It's absolutely true, but we don't frame it that way. We think of ice cream as its own food group, a happy wholesome treat. That's how it imprinted when we were children, and while our adult minds recognize it as pure animal fat (aside from the gobs of sugar), it still viscerally strikes us as a visit to some bright candyland universe with vague consequences, rather than a nutritional bear trap.

I've never been drawn to large servings of ice cream. After mulling it over, I figured out why. Ice cream is sweetened butter, and I wouldn't want to scarf down like a pint of cold butter. I'm grossed out by the thought! And now that I've consciously staked out my position - my framing - on this, I find that I'm happy with smaller and smaller portions. A tablespoon of butte....I mean ice cream seems like plenty. I have reframed it!

Another reframing was what I called "The Best, Easiest, and Most Sustainable Diet Tip:
At some point in every meal you've ever eaten, the following mental question has arisen: "Do I want to eat some more?" It's always asked quietly - so quietly that it may not consciously register. And our reaction is, nearly always, to shrug and eat a few more bites. What the hell!

1. No one in the history of the human race has ever asked themselves this question while still hungry. Genuinely hungry people just eat! The fact that you're asking means that you have, in fact, eaten enough!

2. The gratuitous few bites you take after this point will probably add 10-20% more calories to your meal. And most of us are 10-20% overweight, so these are the marginal calories that make us marginally overweight. So drop your fork!
....and yet another was my "Pizza Protocol":
I was ordered on a permanent low fat diet....and I cooked up the following ground rules:
I'd eliminate all bad pizza.
I'd eliminate all so-so pizza.
Really good pizza is permissable, but only one slice.
If really necessary, I could occasionally enjoy two slices.
Since I already cooked healthy at home, I'd cook at home a bit more to offset the errant slices.
This policy eliminates 90% of my normal fat-ingestion-via-pizza, while removing only 10% of my enjoyment:
Dieting doesn't work if you just try to change your behavior. When the diet ends, you will, of course, simply spring back. What's required is reframing. But most people have no facility for reframing (they mistakenly think framing is imposed on them by external circumstances). That's why they can't lose weight. Or change in other ways. It's why adults famously can't learn.

Frozen perspective prevents change, stifles creativity, and causes depression. My framing spiel is not dry philosophy. It's nothing less than salvation, the remedy to humanity's blocks and unhappiness. Plus: it just melts off the pounds!

Many Slog postings - particularly the ones you may have found insightful or clever - are the product of perceptual reframing. That's always been my little trick: a simple flip of perspective.

Until recently, I was fuzzy about my own trick. I hadn't framed my framing! Once you've framed something (as you surely have in some aspect of your life - surely attributing it to "learning", "growing" or "maturing", though framing happens in the blink of an eye whereas those other things are processes), a clarity arises that makes everything feel easy. You don't want to trap yourself in a frozen meta-perspective, nor do you want to be like the centipede who thinks so much about his hundred legs that he's unable to walk. But it helps immensely to have a framework for understanding who you are and what you do.

I often note that I use the Slog not to explain stuff to you, but to myself. I can see now that what I've been doing all along is framing my framing. It's not intellectual philosophy, it's extremely practical. It's everything.


Display Name said...

Another great post Jim. The heat is making me crazy and gutsy. I cannot believe when I was pulling into Frankenfield's today the man himself this kindly older mennonite farmer happened to be carrying a load of fresh cantalopes from the field. I told him I simply could not resist I always wanted to tell a guy Nice Melons! He chuckled. Ice cream used to be more practical. My mom spent her summers as a child in Stone Harbor NJ and the whole family had ice cream every night to cool off. I used to stop at Rita's water ice on the way back from the post office and there were these two ninety plus degrees days. That water ice was transformative. The next day it was only in the eighties and I was puzzled that the water ice was good but not incredible. Well, duh.

Anonymous coward said...

I try to eat small amounts of really tasty dessert and then eat the bulk in healthy food. Try is the operative word. Often, the dessert is so mmmmmmm I can't stop eating it. I just got a brownie mix from Aldi for less than a dollar, I added in some left over chocolate chips, and it is awesome. I've spent $3-$6 on a mix that wasn't so good at some uppity place similar to Whole Foods called Fresh Market, btw Whole Foods also sells this.

Why oh why is the brownie mix at Aldi better than the one at Whole Foods? Here's an example of one mix that is expensive and not that great.

Richard Stanford said...

I love it. When I decided to lose weight (ultimately about 75b), I wanted to keep things simple so I only had two "rules" when it came to food - I ate out a lot, eating in these don't really apply.

1) No "free" food. Anything they bring you before you order is off-limits (except during the meal itself).
2) The meal ends with the entree. After the last bite of enchilada (or whatever), you're done. By all means eat rice, beans, chips, etc during that time but when the entree is over, so is the meal.

Between them they probably knocked 50% off the total calorie count of Italian and Mexican meals, my two most common cuisines. And you know what? I wasn't ever hungry afterwards either. Your "Do I want to eat more?" question reminded me immediately of the second rule. I like yours too btw - they'd work well together.

Jim Leff said...

But mine are not rules. They're reframings posing as rules. That's the diff. Perhaps you managed to reframe around your rules as well, but, if you did, it was the reframing and not the rules that lost the weight.

The number one rule of weight loss (catalogued elsewhere in the slog) is "never be hungry". Hunger activates deep psychological and physiological processes. You need to eat more to lose weight......but what bodybuilders call "clean" foods. No simple carbs, animal fats, sugar, fried stuff, processed food. Strip all that away and it's hard to eat 2000 calories per day without feeling like a foie gras goose. Also: balance carb/protein/fat at every meal.

Jon Lieb said...

It's certainly a reasonable strategy. It gets much harder if alcohol is involved.

Jim Leff said...

That's because we use alcohol to reframe. It's one of a very few available means to change the channel when you've forgotten you own - in fact you *are* - the remote control.

At a higher frame of perspective, alcohol is just more yadda yadda - part of the show, not a magical remote control. That recognition is instant and easy, but if you're stubbornly clutching that remote control and jamming your fingers on the buttons, you're going to miss the fact that it's just a cheap shoddy fill-in for a power you've always held.

Display Name said...

I really like the never be hungry comment Jim. I have seen and also been involved in miserable arguments with people who are simply hungry. I have even muttered in my own head that is just the hunger talking. It's like being hungry can lead to grouchiness. In self defense I ask Conan have you eaten anything today? If he snarls something like you're not my mother I know to run! And thirst! People around here Still get nasty dehydration headaches. Makes them fun to be around.

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