The new year is barely three weeks old, and already I’m growing weak in my resolve to give up this or that.
It’s been so blasted cold, all I can think about is curling up by the fire with a good book and some “refreshment” (my euphemism for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a double latte).
One slip up and I’m likely to convince myself I’m weak and hopeless which makes me mad at myself. As punishment, I abandon all self-control and eat the whole bag of peanut butter cups and wash them down with a steaming Iced Caramel Macchiato from the bookstore.
These two guilty pleasures pack more calories than I’m allowed in an entire weekend and the bookstore clerks watch me like a hawk to make sure I don’t leave chocolate droppings in my wake.
The more determined I am not to do something, the more I want to do it. Sound familiar? Well, I have finally found the answer, and I promise you it works. I came up with this on my own last summer when I lost 22 pounds.
It’s called “surfing the urge.” Rather than running from it, head right into it. Face it, embrace it, erase it. Wallow in the raw desire for whatever it is that tempts you and it quickly loses its power.
Yesterday I read a magazine article which reinforced my theory. Scientists tell us that on average, cravings attack four to seven times a day and last only a few seconds. I figure each attack draws me closer to victory!
“Urges start small, build to a crest, then break up and dissolve,” explains Susan Nolen-Hocksema, in her book “Eating Dinking and Overthinking.”
“When you urge-surf, you ride the wave rather than fight it; as a result, you are less likely to be pulled in or wiped out.”
We’ve been conditioned to run from or give in to strong feelings. Surfing requires doing just the opposite: As soon as you become aware of a strong sensation, rather than ignore or indulge it, you pay more attention to it without trying to change it. Suffer a little, if you must.
Surfing the big waves, (cookies, macaroni and cheese, cigarettes, alcohol or drugs) takes a bit of bravery, but it doesn’t last forever and we will emerge stronger and more prepared for the next wave, says the author.
Since winter set in, I’ve quit “surfing” and the pounds are sneaking back on. Time to polish off the ole surf board and hang ten – with white knuckles, I guess.
Okay guys, Surfs up! Grab your mental boogie board and lets go surfing now, everybody’s learning how, come on and safari with me.
Ah, I’m sixteen again and the Beach Boys are having a party in my head. What was it I was craving again?
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at www.deludeddiva.com .