Pattern Interrupts – A Key to Healthy New Habits in Figure Training

Sugar in a Coke_6My favorite recent book related to figure training and corseting, is by Barry Friedman,  I love me more than sugarReading that book in early June changed my life, at least so far, now four months later. It made me ask myself the question: Do I? (Here’s that amazing picture of the almost-1/4 cup of refined sugar in one Coke! Horrifying, no?)

There’s something helpful I just read in that book (again), p. 213 about pattern interrupts.

Perturbation is a word meaning deviation of a system or process from its regular state or path.

For many of us, the system or process or habit we follow, is to give into sweets.  There is just too much information out there the past year about the bad effects of refined sugar on health, for this topic to be ignored by anyone into corset waist training, or anyone for that matter, into long-term health.

The issue is how to break that process or path of choosing cake, cookies, ice cream, candy and other refined sugar treats and food additives?

Friedman suggests the following:

1. Wear a rubber band around your wrist every day. When you want to give in, snap it several times.
2. Sing the chorus from a favorite song as loud as you can.
3. Jump up and down 10 times and count jumps in a foreign language.
4. Pet your dog or cat (or stuffed animal).
5. Drum a rhythm onto a desk.
6. Drink a glass of water.
7. Take a one minute power walk.
8. Splash water on your face.
9. Do five squats (ten is better per me!)
10. Slap your forehead three times quickly.

I might add: do your lean/pull technique, change the tv channel or radio station, email a friend, or call your mom.

These steps are all quick, you don’t need props, and they require no thinking. They do break your train of thought.

This technique reminds me of Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisper, and his Saturday morning tv on Channel 12 out here in Calif. Have you seen the show? He is an amazing “trainer of people and rehabilitator of dogs” as he says. We all need training, but we all need to understand how to rehabilitate ourselves, too, away from refined sugar and toward healthier, clean and natural food choices.

Friedman’s suggestions are not as silly as they may first seem.

I think they give us a chance to re-think what we were going to do, just like when Cesar Milan snaps his fingers in front of a misbehaving dog’s face, and the dog stops in its tracks so that another more effective habit may come into the picture from Caesar.

This perturbation finger snap equivalent for a human being, doesn’t stop us from asking for a second piece of cake, but it interrupts the normal process of robotic thinking and robotic responses to go for the second piece when offered. Consequently, for the next moment or two after a finger snap we have to think and then we have to make more effort to go back and fall back into our temptation and into our normal automatic response. Perturbation works for Caesar’s dogs; I think it can work for us, too.

The other way I quit refined sugar was to commit to a three-month no sugar kick, period. Friedman says try it for one month and that’s enough (well, really he suggests a lifetime commitment, but that might be too daunting to start with as a resolve) . But you have to be rigid about the period you choose and not go about it half—-ssed. To make the experiment work, you have to give it an honest try and not give in to sugar temptations, ever, during the period you set aside.

I faced my partner’s sister’s birthday celebration with the larger family during it my first 1.5 months of my no-refined sugar experiment. Yikes! It wasn’t going to be easy, I thought. Everyone typically gets a huge piece of thickly-iced cake with seconds if we want them. My partner got his piece, but chose a smaller piece with not so much icing as before (my good influence so far?) — and he did not go back for seconds. He sat next to me and put that blessed and pretty little piece of cake right in front of me. But I was prepared! I stood up (the finger snap) and walked to the fridge where I  had brought from home my favorite 80-calorie Dannon coconut yogurt. I opened it up, came back and sat down, and while he ate his cake, I ate my yogurt. I reached over and took one medium-sized bite of his cake, then went right back to my yogurt. That’s all the cake I ate. No one forced cake on me either, although that is a distinct possibility — if you don’t first get your family and friends on board with your new resolve.

For my upcoming birthday in early November I am baking a two-banana Truvia spiced quick bread with dates and nuts, to take with us on our visit to the high sierras and to a neat old cowboy-styled lodge. That will be my birthday cake this year. It’s yummie and made without sugar. In any case, I much prefer a good cappucino after dinner  (with no sugar, and with cinnamon on top, or just take Truvia or stevia drops to add), to a lethal sugar dessert. This is what I might call the “substitution” strategy to break a bad dessert habit.

Also, there is the strategy of the “celebratory slice.” You can choose a small piece of cake without much icing, and stop there. A minister friend of mine calls it a “celebratory slice of cake” at weddings he performs: he simply accepts graciously a slim piece of cake so he doesn’t not not partake, but he does limit the size.  If the cake is a present to you and you are home, you can simply freeze the rest of your cake after everyone and you are served, or better yet, give it to a neighbor or guest to take home and away from temptation.

And here’s a thought about timing of celebrations  Is there any reason that you can not ask your family and friends to postpone a celebration til after your no-sugar experiment? My partner and I sometimes miss our exact date of anniversary or birthday, but we always get around to it. Why should we permit that temptations during figure training and….here is the corker to me…make it harder to act consistently with my goals for four weeks, rather than easier? That seems purely and simply insane to me!

Then there is cleaning your environment. My partner in the past has taken  some left-over Halloween candy to work and is now taking a left over bag of my very favorite treat to work this month: candy corn. I die for candy corn. I can eat myself literally sick! My stomach churns from all that sugar! Yet I used to do that every Oct. when candy corn came on the market. Anyone share my addiction? So, I asked him to take the left over bag to his work to share, and to get temptation out of this house. And for better or worse we are not going to participate in Halloween candy hand-outs this year. I just don’t want that huge dish of mini-chocolate bars starting me in the face as I run up and down to answer my door bell and try to give it all away without one indulgence.  Cleaning my environment has been one key to success in my resolve to try a sugar-free experiment.

I wonder what other “pattern interrupt” techniques and strategies you have tried in your quest for health and to cut back on refined sugar?

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