Monday, June 20, 2011

Weigh in #32

Ummm + 1 lb?  Gotta be muscle right?

In the interest of discussing more weight-loss related content I wanted to talk about something that I learned about in my psychology class a few months ago called Associative Behavior Disorder.  We're probably all a lot more familiar with associative behavior than we think; we've heard of Pavlov's dogs that salivated at the sound of a bell because he had taught them to associate the bell with being fed.  We see this in our own pets all the time right?  My cats come running when they hear food being poured into their bowls because they have associated the sound with the fact that they are being fed and my dog gets excited whenever I pick up her leash because she has associated that with going for a walk.

Humans can display associative behavior as well such as feeling like we need to drink when we go to a bar or night club.  Associative behavior can become a disorder or addiction when we lose the ability to control behaviors that we have associated with certain events or circumstances.  The party girl who goes to a bar every night and drinks until she throws up and passes out might be a good example of an associative alcoholic; or the mom with OCD who feels the uncontrollable need to flip a light switch thirteen times any time she has a "bad thought" would be classified as having an associative disorder.  Unfortunately for us, because we are social creatures, we can develop social addictions or, in other words, associative addictions that are based on social environments or specific individuals.

This brings us back to weight-loss and gain.  I am an associative eater.  This is why, when I am single, I tend to lose weight without trying and when I am in a relationship I tend to gain.  I associate eating, especially binge or over eating, with specific atmospheres such as family parties, hanging out with friends, or going to a restaurant.  When I am single my daily food intake generally consists of a granola bar; maybe an avocado smushed up all over a bagel with some lemon juice, salt and pepper; and a cup of coffee.  Of course add copious amounts of soda to that because I've not been single since I quit soda so when I was single I was drinking it constantly which was undoubtedly slowing my weight loss.  But the point is, I am not a natural food addict or over-eater when I am by myself ... just like the party girl who probably doesn't drink at all when she's alone but always ends up passed out in a bathroom when she goes out with friends.

I firmly believe that this could be a significant aspect of why my calorie levels have become so low and why so many of you are both concerned about and confused by that.  I've vowed to you that I am not intentionally on a low calorie diet but the intelligent person wonders how an obese woman can suddenly adjust, unintentionally, to 800 calories per day unless she is intentionally "starving herself".  I get it, it's unusual - yet true.  The biggest change that I have actually made in my current lifestyle is the change in my associative behavior through counting and monitoring food intake.  When I started to monitor food I started to simultaneously force myself to change my associative behavior.  In other words:
  • I can fix a sandwich for Snackers without having to fix one for myself when I'm not even hungry
  • I can go to a full-service restaurant without feeling like I need to order an appetizer, soda, margarita, and dessert.
  • I can go to my mom's house without raiding her cupboards for the home-baked goods she keeps for guests.
  • I can go to a friend's BBQ without trying one of everything - or two, or three, or four.
  • I can have a conversation with someone who's eating without feeling the need to eat also.
  • I can spend hours on my computer without a box of crackers or a bag of mini-donuts in my face (oh yeah, computer time was a big time eating trigger for me!)
  • I can watch food shows without feeling like I have to eat something (yes because feeling like I have to join Adam Richmond on his quest for the ultimate food challenge on Man vs. Food used to make me feel like I needed to eat something the size of a basketball during every episode).
  • I can say "no thanks" when Snackers offers to make us both an ice cream cone and STILL sit with him to watch TV while he eats it!!!!  Like, OMG! (no, I don't normally talk like that, I borrowed it for dramatic effect).
Once I changed the "need" to eat in those trigger situations the "food problem" changed.  Food really isn't all that great (most of it).  9 times out of 10 I eat something and then think "why did I do that?  It wasn't even that good".  Some people just love food and it all tastes amazing and those people are not in my shoes.  Sometimes I am still tempted by watching Snackers eat something and I steal a bite or share it with him but it never seems to taste as good as I remember.  Food isn't fun for me anymore and I'm starting to realize it was never about flavor (with some exceptions).  Once I started to curb or change that associative behavior the desire to over eat went with it, hence the super-low daily caloric intakes AND the insistence that I am not actually trying to starve myself, I promise!

8 glasses of water
1 cup of coffee w/creamer
Remainder of my reuben sandwich from yesterday (lunch)
5 oz grilled sirloin
1/2 cup herb & garlic rice
Daily Caloric Intake: 922

5 flights of stairs
Walking: 1 + mile (2,600-ish steps)
Sprinting: 10 sprints from one end of the dog park to the other

1 comment:

  1. No, not muscle. Muscle gains are slow. Very slow. 10lbs. of muscle in an entire year is a huge feat of accomplishment.

    I'm not saying it's fat, either, though.

    Given the higher-level of exercise geared towards building muscle, it's likely to be water-gain; it'll go away in time.