Envelopes, obesity and robots. Oh My!

We’re all at least 2 different people: the rational, best self and the embarrassing self.  The embarrassing self eats calories like they’re going out of style and plunges us into debt on a whim.  The best self is stuck with cleaning up the messes, and usually resents doing so.  Chasing the infomercial fantasy of getting rid of embarrassing keeps us on a hamster wheel of frustration and shame. 


Robot or human? 

Robots are rational.  Humans rarely are.  After a good night’s sleep and before an exhausting day we can usually think straight, but sooner or later we’re going to get irrational.  “Eat less and exercise more” is factually correct advice, but it’s also useless for humans.  


Accept and plan for reality. 

The most frustrated clients over the past 20 years are those who cling violently to the idea that with the right self-help book they can become a rational robot.  The most successful clients accept the reality of being a human, and work with that.   

 3 Ways to put this into action 

Little hinges swing big doors.  Focusing on a few small changes that have a big impact on the number of calories you consume will make losing weight and keeping it off much easier. 


  1. Cash over cards. Humans spend 15-20% more when we pay with a card instead of cash.  Giving someone cash is emotionally painful, so we cling tighter.  Going to the grocery store with only the cash you need to buy what’s on the list means 15-20% fewer calories will come into your home and stomach.  It also means you can’t afford the impulse items so it doesn’t take any willpower to say “no.”  (This has been stolen from Dave Ramsey’s envelope system.)


  1. Don’t go in. The number of calories in your house is one of the biggest determinants of the number of calories that go in your mouth.  So getting your grocery shopping right is huge.  An alternate version of #1 is to order your groceries online and pick them up.  Grocery stores have triggering impulse purchases down to a science – every additional minute you spend in the store = $1.75 of purchases over what you planned on. The best margins are on the highest calorie foods.  Online ordering removes you from the smells and sights that have been engineered to get you to buy more food.  


  1. Put your treats on layaway. A robot would be able to eat pizza today and simply eat less over the following days to compensate.  Humans think they will, but almost never do.  That’s not a character flaw, it’s part of how we evolved and why we survived.  It’s beyond the scope of this post, and if you’re curious check out The Hungry Brain. (NAT, set this link to open in a new window)

 We all enjoy eating foods that, like pizza, are amazing!  That impulse isn’t going away.  The upside of our strong desires/cravings is that they give us drive, and we can take advantage by putting them on layaway.  The full instructions for that are in this post right here. 

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