Habits of Disease and Behavior Chains – Diet Day 27

During my weekly check-in with my health coach Amy she not only checks on my progress and acts as my positive support system but she also assigns me a reading assignment for the coming week. It’s kind of like the diet’s version of “good cop/bad cop” but she gets to play both parts.

I have to admit, I had no idea there would be reading and homework when I signed up for this thing. If I had known that I’m not exactly sure I would have started this diet. It’s not that the homework is hard or time consuming. In many cases it’s interesting and educational but the assignments always includes a discussion about healthy choices.

It’s kind of the equivalent to getting a weekly lecture from your mother where she tells you every little thing you have done wrong in your life and how disappointed she is after all of her hard work raising you to be better than this. Yeah I’m sure the guilt trip is non-intentional but it is still real.

I once wondered out loud why it is that whenever I had a visit from my mother she would make a point of reminding me of all the things in my life I needed to work on; this despite the fact that my life has turned out much better than any of my siblings. The answer was rather simple. She lectured me because she knew I would listen whereas the others in my family just tended to ignore mom when she was talking.

So while I may not know Dr. Anderson personally I think he must have dated my mom at some point since he has very similar communication methods as my mother. After getting over the fact that every lesson was going to be a lecture and that it should not be viewed as judgment of how I am living my life I didn’t mind the weekly assignments.

This week the homework revolved around the premise that each bad choice we make is usually a series of events, which he refers to as a behavioral chain of events. His example was eating a whole bag of cookies. The result was emptying a bag of sugary cookies in one sitting but there was a long list of things that led up to it from finding a coupon in the newspaper to carrying the bag to the family room for something to do while watching television.

At any one of a number of decision points you could break the chain but without consciously thinking about the chain the patter will continue. The key then is to understand these behavioral chains and removing a link breaking the pattern.

The reading discusses a technique that will help you to overcome these chains of bad health decisions. The goal is to stop yourself during one of these chains and challenging the premise of why you are going down this behavior path. Once you analyze why you are doing something you can change and choose a healthier alternative.

This is not just about eating poorly it really boils down to understanding the ramifications of every decision you make in your life and analyzing whether there may be better alternatives to what you are choosing. It works for choosing between sitting on the couch watching television versus taking a walk and it’s equally practical for analyzing how you deal with challenges at work. In all cases if you carefully review what your behavior is, whether it is healthy or good for you, and choosing better alternatives you can reinforce your confidence in moving your life in the right direction.

Ok so like my mother I am listening to Dr. Anderson and don’t tell anyone this but I am starting to incorporate some of these things into my life in hopes that I will be healthier whether that health is physical, mental, or spiritual. The technique seems to work equally well no matter what challenges I face in my life. Now if I could just talk the good Dr. into letting me incorporate these changes while drinking a chocolate milk shake and an order of onion rings I’d have it made. Ok maybe I need to re-read that chapter again.

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