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Cognitive dissonance, and what I've learned from my junk food/no sleep experiment (non-intentional

Friday, May 21, 2010

"This is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.
Dissonance increases with:
The importance of the subject to us.
How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.
Dissonance is often strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief. If I believe I am good but do something bad, then the discomfort I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts. To release the tension we can take one of three actions:
Change our behavior.
Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions."

This is an excerpt from www.changingminds.org. This is what I think about when trying to maintain my weight loss during stressful times. I know what results I want, I know the path I need to take to get there, yet I passively or actively take steps in the opposite direction. I am trying to minimize the dissonance between what I want, and what I do. I know that eating clean will reduce my cravings greatly.

I need to focus on positive actions, so I will first state what I've been doing right. Working out 6 times per week (don't worry, my workouts only average 30-45 minutes) is helping me stay on track. I know that having shorter workout weeks (4 workouts) every few weeks helps me to not get burned out. I check in with the scale so I can't just blow all caution to the wind. I have an eye on where my body is going. My friend called me Michelle Obama yesterday because my arms were toned.. that was super cool :)

My challenges: Lack of a schedule/regimen for sleeping and eating. When I don't sleep right, I eat tons. Its easy to not eat well when I'm not drinking water regularly, when I don't establish for myself exactly what I WILL EAT each day, when I go to restaurants and accept what they have on their menu.

bottom line, i feel a need to 1) be honest with myself, 2) establish positive actions. without having intention to ramp things up, i have been turning my body into a junk food experiment. eating poorly shows me how easy it is to eat high amounts of salt and sodium, even though i'm not really into it. i also feel like i now understand why i've been cautious about sugar and alcohol all these years. other people think it is not an issue, and want me to agree with them, but i'm ruling for myself personally that it is. i can only drink 1-2 glasses of anything.. i think its a blessing to have a low tolerance.. i can't make it a regular part of my life.. it just doesn't feel good. as far as sugar, once my mouth is primed to that taste, it does not want it to end. this means i'm not safe around any type of baked good. i try to stay away from chocolate as well. i had a lot this week, and felt uncomfortable. i had a soda last night, and it was honestly hard to drink!! i couldn't finish it.

so, here is the conclusion. i was successful beyond my wildest dreams from february to april.. i dropped 15 pounds! however, i got comfortable and stopped doing a lot of the things nutrition and sleep wise that helped me get there. the workouts stay up because i have a PLAN. I've been doing 12 weeks of weight training to prep for the body sculpting bible for women's advanced workout. i have literally missed 1 weight workout in the past 12 weeks. on my cardio days, i've gradually trained myself into running again! i have more going in the workout area than EVER before.

i think i need a similar challenge/change with my nutrition and sleep. I'm thinking about a gold star experiment. keeping a calendar, and giving myself a star for every healthy meal, and every night that i sleep 7-8 hours.

New goal: to be able to breathe and feel happy and successful about the positive steps i've taken to improve my sleep and eating habits. to become more proactive with my food decisions and stop eating foods that only create more cravings!

to be continued.. suggestion welcome. i'm not a calorie counter, but i'll take anything that you feel works for you (even if it means counting some calories!)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • EWATER
    Thanks for the wisdom in this blog. I understand how big sleep is to overall health and weight loss/maintenance. I work at night, take one class, and often have long sedentary hours at my computer. Getting 8 hours a day whenever I can I have found to be essential, and I work hard to maintain that. In fact, I have been able to correlate weight plateaus with periods of not enough sleep. Best wishes to you.
    3498 days ago
  • LIV2RIDE
    What were you doing when things worked? Simply go back to that plan. My schedule is pretty much set in stone and I'm selfish enough to keep on track. My alarm goes off at 4:10am. I workout for 30 minutes to an hour depending on the day. I'm home from work at 6:30pm. Then I'm in bed by 9pm. I've done this so long I barely need an alarm to wake me up. I even get up by 5:30am on the weekends. All you need is a plan that works for YOUR schedule and stick to it.
    3536 days ago
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