How An Overspender Helped An Overeater

Last weekend my foster kids had a Christmas party to attend. There would be food. I was the one assigned to take them.

Around the time we were to leave, my wife Caroline would take my “bio” daughter (yeah, bio’s a thing) and her friend to our church’s Christmas market. There would be artisans selling their stuff.

A short time before we were all to leave, I told Caroline I was afraid I’d overeat at the party. She turned toward me and shared she was afraid she’d overspend at the market! So, we traded!

Man, did it work out! Although there were desserts at the market, it was nothing compared to what I would’ve encountered at the party. Not only did I not eat anything, but I also bought Caroline a present. That’s what’s called a win-win. What’s more, this event got me thinking about why I was successful. Here’s what I learned.

Know thyself

The first thing you gotta do is know you. For me, discipline is in limited supply. And willpower? Fuhgeddaboudit. Do I have some? Yeah, sometimes. But I don’t wanna have to count on it . . . ever. Dr. John Berardi, co-founder of Precision Nutrition and one of my heroes, says, “If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.” Although the market did have food, it was a much lesser temptation than the party.

If you’re tempted by food, get it away from you or you get away from it. It takes a whole lot less willpower or discipline to decide to not be around it than to be around it and not eat it. Because if you’re around it, guess what, you’ll eventually eat it. Sad but true.

Accountability matters

We’re new to foster parenting. Because of that, few in the fostering world know us from Adam (I thought your name was Adam!?). And even less know what I do professionally. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve abstained from eating something simply because I was around people who knew what I do. “Whaaa?! The personal trainer is eating a bratwurst!?” (Yeah, that happened.)

Because no one at the party would’ve known me, I could’ve eaten my weight in whatever I wanted (and didn’t want) without judgment or condemnation (except for myself). But because I was at my church, where MANY know me, I abstained. Ultimately, I wanna be an example to everyone I’m around, whether they know me or not. But I most definitely wanna be one of those that do.

If you’re unable to avoid a party as I was, enlist someone to help hold you accountable for your actions. Find someone who will encourage you, be honest with you, maybe even admonish you, but will do it in love. Avoid those that will make pig noises as you eat.

Find [or make] a distraction

If I’d attended the party, because I would’ve been unknown, more than likely, I would’ve sat in a corner talking with no one. But if I’m not talking, my mouth’s gotta be doing something, right? Oh, the foods we eat when bored . . . or tired, lonely, stress, etc.

At church, there were things to see and people I knew, some quite well. In fact, only minutes after arriving, I became engaged in a great conversation with a friend I’d not seen in months. (I don’t mean to namedrop, but my friend’s the son of the man responsible for the “Ernest” movies.) What’s more, we talked away from the dessert table.

If you’re bored, food can serve as entertainment. But so can a lot of other things. Read a book. Walk your dog . . . or your kids. Call a friend you’ve not spoken to in a while. Post a list of alternatives to eating on your fridge. (Don’t put watching TV on the list.  It rots your body.)

I’ve been a trainer for 17 years now, and I continue to find growth opportunities. Sometimes, though, opportunities find me. But through awareness and intentionality, I’m becoming more and more prepared when they do.